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Westbury, New Cassel Residents Seek Dust, Odor Answers

Elected officials meet with homeowners to discuss possible solutions

Westbury and New Cassel residents living near Grand Boulevard – a decrepit road that sees a high volume of cars passing through daily – met with local elected officials and representatives from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on July 13 to discuss the ongoing issue of dust and odors affecting homeowners in the area.

At the meeting, which took place at Assemblyman Michael Montesano’s office in Hicksville, DEC’s Long Island Regional Director Peter Scully and his team presented findings of soil samples previously collected and tested from 10 area homes.

A DEC report distributed at the meeting concluded that the area is “generally impacted by a variety of dust/particulate, especially mobile source (tailpipe emissions), biologicals, earthy materials and concrete dust. The ingredients are common to what we naturally have around us,” according to the report, which compared 10 samples collected from homes and several commercial properties in the area from Nov. 4 to Nov. 15, 2011.

“In situations where you have industrial areas in proximity to residential areas, it’s always an ongoing task and never something that’s completely solved. You have to remain vigilant and make sure that facilities are taking the proper steps. We’ve been trying to work with some of the businesses down there to convince, control or use our authority to compel them to use methods to address these concerns,” Scully explained.

Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Viviana Russell said that several businesses are running their sprinklers and deodorizers regularly to help alleviate the problem but that reconstruction of Grand Boulevard might be the key to more effectively eliminating dust in the area.

“Grand Boulevard and Grand Street are the most problematic in that area. We’ve been working on the reconstruction of Grand Boulevard; it’s been in the works for several years. There are several steps that need to be taken before work can begin,” Russell said, noting that the town needs to acquire a portion of the street before moving forward in its plans to reconstruct.

Many residents spoke regarding their dust and odor experiences throughout the years, citing concerns for air quality and possible dangers posed to students attending the nearby Dryden Street School. Scully said the New York State Department of Health handles air quality concerns, not the DEC.

“This is something that has been going on for years. The situation is still there,” one resident said.

Another homeowner said crushing concrete and growing heaps of dirt and debris over the years have made sprinklers less effective. “My greatest concern is the dust. If I looked at the dust on the car every day, it’s paramount; it’s unbelievable in that sense,” said one resident, whose parents live on Monitor Street.  

“Spraying the area doesn’t necessary alleviate the problem. The real solution is to reconstruct Grand Boulevard and then get the businesses to keep whatever materials they process on their property,” said Russell.