FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS
TO QUESTIONS/RUMORS ABOUT THE PROJECT
WHY IS SYOSSET PARK BEING PROPOSED?
In 2013, over 70% of the community voted to sell to Simon/Castagna the 53-acre Town Department of Public Works (“DPW”) site. This was to ensure a nearly 1-million-square-foot traditional mall was not built on the adjacent 39-acre former Cerro Wire Plant property. The community fought that for over 20 years, and advocated a mixed-use approach to the properties. We followed the community’s desired road map.
WHAT IS HERE NOW? OVER THE YEARS WHAT WAS HERE?
The current 53-acre DPW site consists of over 120,000 square feet of office and heavy vehicle maintenance/industrial uses, plus an animal shelter. 38 of the 53 acres is a “cap” over the former Town landfill–closed in the 1970’s, and officially capped in the late 1990’s, with a US EPA mandated permanent concrete, rock and heavy industrial sealed liner, then covered with a minimum of 2’ of clean soil, with the southerly portion paved as an asphalt parking lot to be used for heavy trucks/equipment. The 39-acre former Cerro Wire property once housed a nearly half-million-square-foot copper rod/cable plant operation in the center of the site. The Cerro Wire Plant closed in the mid 1980’s. The Tribune Company bought the property in 1989, with the intention of building a printing plant for the NY Daily News. It was subsequently sold to another developer who tried for nearly 20 years to put a 1-million-square-foot super-regional mall (larger than Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington) just on the 38-acre Cerro Wire site. Several cleanup efforts took place from the early 1990’s until 2004, when the factory buildings finally came down. The vote in 2013 put the prospect of a mall on the Cerro site to bed.
Simon and Castagna acquired rights to the Town DPW site in September 2013 (after the public vote) and acquired the Cerro property in early 2014. After a year of research and planning studies, we worked closely with the local community in 2015 to integrate the community’s mixed-use wishes into the development plan. Specifically–five open-house-style community meetings were held from April through July 2015 to help sculpt the mixed-use vision, which included an addition of a 30-acre park to complement the homes, retail, office and hotel spaces. Several thousand homes were sent direct mailers advertising these meetings, and we used social media as well to advertise them. In total, over 700 people attended those working meetings, and over 2,000 engaged with us on social media before we submitted a land plan to the Town on August 2015.
We understand the interest in the project and invite you to attend all future meetings. Meeting notifications will be sent in the mail and posted on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SyossetPark/
IS THE SITE SAFE AND WILL THERE BE MORE TESTING?
Both the former Cerro Wire site and the former landfill on the DPW site have undergone cleanup and review by the State and Federal government and have both been deemed safe for redevelopment. However, given the adjacency to homes and an elementary school, and with feedback received in our 2015 community meetings, the developers have chosen to exceed the prior cleanup standards.
An application has been made to have the Cerro Wire site reevaluated under the more stringent current New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program, versus standards in place nearly 20 years ago when the factory buildings finally came down, and the site was then deemed safe to develop. All development on the DPW site will require the oversight of the EPA as well as the State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation.
We’re in agreement an independent follow-up of the data and reports to date should be performed, and as warranted additional confirmatory testing should occur–so that our concerned neighbors have that independent confirmation of what is there today. And importantly–a confirmation nothing we would do would make things worse than conditions in place today.
On the contrary–the Syosset Park project will ultimately pay for more independent testing and further cleanup and protection of the two properties. Absent Syosset Park–the issues raised by some members of the community will not go away. We didn’t create the existing conditions–but we’re committed to making things less impactive to the neighbors and South Grove School through Syosset Park.
IS THE WATER AT THE SITE SAFE?
At least five groundwater investigations have taken place at the property and all have documented the history since the DPW site landfill was covered. Additional groundwater testing was performed and is in process to be performed again on the former Cerro site for the water table some 100’ below the surface.
What is misunderstood is that no one is intending to use the groundwater under either the Cerro property or DPW property for public water use. Water will be provided by the Jericho Water District from their existing well fields, and supplied via pipes like for every property within their District. There is no connection between groundwater at this location and their well fields, nor is there any intention to draw water from anywhere underneath these two properties for any public or private use.
HOW WILL THE DEVELOPMENT IMPACT PROPERTY TAX REVENUES?
When completed, Syosset Park is projected to generate at least an additional $20 million in property taxes annually. About 60% of locally generated property taxes are available for use by the Syosset Central School District. The other eight million dollars of this amount will be allocated across Nassau County, special districts, and the Town of Oyster Bay. Another $20 million in potential sales and hotel taxes will be generated for the State, County and Town.
WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL CHILDREN AND THE IMPACT ON OUR SCHOOLS?
$12 million in new tax revenue and maybe more will go to the Syosset Central School District to enhance the already excellent educational opportunities it offers students and their families. There is the possibility for more revenues because the “values” for homes in the original tax model are three years old and home prices have increased significantly during that time.
At completion, between 243 and 350 school-aged children are projected to reside in the Syosset Park development, based upon two distinct studies by consultants, using the past decade plus enrollment records to forecast expected changes. We are committed to working with the school district to evaluate and plan for the potential needs as a result of this growth, and ensure no local resident will be burdened by the project, as to their fair share of taxes based on school district budgets going forward.
HOW WILL TRAFFIC BE AFFECTED?
Syosset Park Development, LLC has closely studied area traffic patterns and the widening of roads, addition of separate turn lanes, and improvement of signaling at the LIRR grade crossing are all intended to ensure Syosset Park improves traffic patterns from today’s standards. In addition, the project is designed so that none of the customers or residents coming or leaving Syosset Park will need to go through neighborhood streets as a potential shortcut. As well as widening both Miller Place and Robbins Lane to allow better traffic flow, well over a dozen other intersections will be improved and several other traffic signals throughout the community will be updated/upgraded by Syosset Park to not only address project-based traffic, but also to improve existing traffic concerns.
WHAT IS THE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT? (DEIS)
The State of New York requires a diligent study of a project’s potential environmental impacts and how those impacts can be mitigated or resolved. Syosset Park was sized so impacts could be mitigated–especially traffic–by the project paying for several roadway improvements, widening, etc. Another important part of this inquiry is a projection of taxes generated against the “impact” of demands on local services–including schools.
The DEIS begins the dialogue with the community so the proposed plan can be adjusted to respond to local concerns. Evaluation criteria in a DEIS are established and governed by the State and Town, with the input of every major jurisdiction impacted by a proposed project.
The Town will not consider an actual project until the public’s DEIS comments are received and Town directs/reviews all responses to ensure that they meet State of New York environmental review criteria. A Final EIS (FEIS) would then be considered by the Town for adoption, which would include addressing all comments received during the DEIS process. Only at this juncture would they deliberate on the parameters of the final project.
WHY IS THE STATE LOOKING AT POTENTIAL RADIOACTIVE CONDITIONS IN THE FORMER LANDFILL?
The State of New York is reviewing their records and looking at several former landfills to determine if there is any credence to a rumor that a major corporation shipped waste from a nearby facility to area landfills decades back. This inquiry is important to put to rest such concerns and/or to identify any potential disposal in the past that was not properly documented. Syosset Park Development is aligned with the State, Town, School District and our nearby neighbors in the view that any suggestion of information of this sort needs to be fully researched and checked.
It is important to note this investigation is independent of the application for the Syosset Park development. This inquiry is related to the leftover conditions UNDER the cap. Syosset Park would propose to have a greenbelt on TOP of the cap, and not puncture or expose anything buried under that landfill cap in any way.
WHAT IS TAKING PLACE TODAY ON THE TOWN’S DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS SITE AND WHAT ELSE COULD TAKE PLACE IF NOT SYOSSET PARK?
Today the DPW site is home to snow plows, salt bins and salt trucks, trash trucks, highway vehicle storage and maintenance, a tow yard, heavy vehicle fueling and repair facilities, and acres of land used for intermittent placement of road debris collected from past storms and snows. The facility has also been historically the home for the Town’s Dept of Public Works and Planning Divisions. More recently, an animal control facility was constructed on the property, and a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling facility for Town trucks and equipment. The snow plows, salt trucks and bins, road debris piles, CNG facility and paved areas that are in support of the 120,000 square feet or so of Town buildings sit on top of the landfill cap today.
In 2013, over 70% of the community voted to sell this property to Simon/Castagna for $32.5 million–of which $30 million of purchase price the Town received in the Fall of 2013. The contract allows the Town to stay on the DPW site through the end of 2021, at which point redevelopment would occur in some form.
The land today is zoned “Light Industry.” Uses like the uses that take place today on the property, as well as business/ industrial park uses that lie north of the LIRR, generally fit into this category of uses. If the mixed-use development does not happen, the most likely options would be to build up to a two-million-square-foot business/industrial park or large office campus similar to Jericho Quadrangle or Jericho Plaza at the LIE/Jericho turnpike intersection. The landfill cap would be transitioned to a 5,000-car-capacity parking lot supporting buildings on the non-landfill portions of the two properties. These are allowed uses under this zoning.
Syosset Park as proposed would introduce a permanent greenbelt on the landfill cap. This would eliminate the past and current industrial activity, in addition to significantly reducing the residual emission exposure to the school and our neighbors from the heavy trucks and equipment today. We believe our proposal to be far less impactful, as to air quality, noise, and traffic concerns versus a significant office/industrial park presence that would be the “by right” type of development, with the entire landfill cap closest to existing homes and the school likely used as an employee parking lot for those type of uses.
WILL CONSTRUCTION OF THE PARK BREAK THE LANDFILL CAP AND EXPOSE US TO THE LANDFILL?
No, the cap was designed for the current heavy vehicles and equipment used by the Town. The equipment used to create the park will likely be no heavier than the current trucks and machinery that use the property every day today. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has predicted the “half life” of less robust landfill caps to be in excess of 300 years. This is more robust as it was designed/built for heavy vehicles on top.
Syosset Park committed to building the park in accordance with community desires and then give it back to the Town once completed. This will ensure the Town owns it as a public facility forever, and can maintain/continue to test regularly the landfill itself–with the EPA conducting routine 5-year observations. A public park or greenbelt will be far less impactive uses on the top of the landfill cap, versus the current heavy vehicles, road salt storage and debris piles.
WHAT BUILDINGS WOULD BE BUILT ON THE LANDFILL CAP?
NONE. The closest structure to the outside edge of the cap would be 25’ and in most cases much further. South Grove classrooms today are as close as most buildings proposed with Syosset Park.
WILL THE SITES GET CLEANED UP FURTHER, AS YOU REPRESENT, IF SYOSSET PARK (OR SOME FORM OF IT) IS NOT APPROVED?
If a mixed-use development with residential space is not approved, then no further cleanup efforts will be required. Simon/Castagna are undertaking the extra efforts on the Cerro site based upon the past history and concerns expressed in community meetings in 2015. We feel going back through the State Brownfield Cleanup Program and bringing compliance up to current standards, versus standards from 20 years ago, is the right commitment to make to our neighbors. But it is not required for Light Industry uses.
WHAT ABOUT CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY DUST FOR OVER SEVEN YEARS OF CONSTRUCTION?
The seven-year time frame is related to the construction of 600 homes–as homes do not get built and sold all at once. An example of this is Meadowbrook Pointe which took nearly 10 years to build and complete.
However, the bulk of the site work for the project would take about one year to 15 months to complete, which would as a result have grading and paving in place. The grading/earthwork activities would occur within the first nine to 15 months with plans to work closest to the elementary school during summer months when the school is empty. Note the Town runs trucks and heavy equipment daily on the pavement and dirt areas of the site, including the salt bin storage, next to South Grove Elementary today. Once the park is built, those activities will stop for good.
During construction, all Federal and State construction emission rules/regulations will be followed. We are 100% committed to working with the School District and immediate adjacent neighbors to provide further monitoring and protections until all of the work nearby is complete, and the park is in place.
HAVE MORE QUESTIONS? REVIEW INFORMATION AT SYOSSETPARK.COM OR ASK YOUR QUESTIONS VIA OUR EMAIL AT firstname.lastname@example.org