Petition calls for independent testing for Syosset Park development

Following a  six hour Town of Oyster Bay public hearing on Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the 92.8-acre residential/retail and recreation development proposed as Syosset Park, 790 local residents have signed a petition opposing the project, as of May 14th.

The petition, to the Town Board of Oyster Bay,  is targeted towards securing an independent contracting firm to test the grounds of the large site adjacent to Syosset homes and the Long Island Expressway.

Kevin McKenna, an outspoken and concerned Syosset resident, has led the initiative as creator of the online petition and by trying vigorously to organize a community rally at the Town of Oyster Bay government and officials’ offices at 54 Audrey Avenue. He has communicated via Facebook with many in the Syosset, Woodbury and Hicksville areas about the lack of information to date on the former town landfill and Cerro Wire site.

“The residential area and school surrounding this toxic Superfund site has a history of above average sickness and death. The site was capped with toxic materials buried beneath to seep in to ground. I have friends who as kids witnessed dumping of 55 gallon green liquids. The DEC (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) recently found radioactive results in Bethpage and Lake Success. They still have not put Syosset on new list of sites to be tested. Within the distance to Bethpage this must happen. The Town of Oyster Bay has been the responsible party to monitor and provide test results to authorities,” McKenna stated on the petition.

McKenna has had phone and email exchanges with the Town Board for nearly two years on thie matter, as he says fellow Syosset resident, former Town Councilman Chris Coshignano had also asked former Supervisor John Venditto and his fellow members of the Town Board (in 2016 and early 2017) for independent testing of the site. McKenna was recently contacted by Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia, as she’s responded to his request for a community meeting on Syosset Park and its environmental review by Town of Oyster Bay officials and consulting teams. Councilwoman Alesia has listened to residents’ relay their fears over the site’s potential environmental and public health hazards and she has asked residents including McKenna, and supporters of the petition, what would qualify as independent testing for the Town of Oyster Bay to pursue. One prominent resident, Bob Freier of Woodbury, spoke at the May 1 hearing on the DEIS and made his definition clear.

“I asked the Town Board before any vote is taken on this, that the Town of Oyster Bay hire a new and independent testing company from outside of New York State, one that has no political connections whatsoever to the Town or to Nassau County. They should test for radioactive materials as well as it is a fact — the area around Syosset Park is a major cancer cluster on Long Island. That needs to be addressed. The Town Board can only vote yes after seeing this new, independent data and every single one of you on the Board should be comfortable that the data proves that all children and families would be safe to live at the site,” Freier said.

In an email last weekend from Councilwoman Alesia to Deputy Commissioner George Baptista, Jr. of the Oyster Bay Department of Environmental Resources and other TOBAY officials, she explained her comments to McKenna on Friday May 11 and her interactions with residents recently about the Syosset Park proposal that caused an uproar.

“As you know my responsibilities at the Town exceed just this one project and more importantly, it is a complex project — I ask that you look into it and research his (McKenna’s) questions before answering them…. I enjoy having open and honest conversations with residents as we are all neighbors; this has been one of the hallmarks of my time on the Town Board. I always call residents back and speak with them individually, and pride myself on being an easy to reach and accessible elected official. Unfortunately in this instance I must ask that the department communicate directly with Mr. McKenna as I will no longer allow my words to be falsely represented on social media,” she said.

“As a councilmember and a resident living within a one-mile radius of the (former Cerro Wire) site, I remain persuaded that we need to learn more about the safety conditions that were voiced by many residents at the May 1 hearing held at Syosset High School. Residents’ valid and reasonable questions should be addressed, and it is my fervent hope that we are able to provide the independent testing they have demanded,” Alesia wrote to TOBAY officials this week.

The Town Board will not need to wait until its next meeting, Tuesday May 22 at 7 p.m., to find out more about community oppositions to the Syosset Park project moving forward unless independent testing is performed. Jason Guo of Syossed signed the petition and commented “when bad thing happens that affect the public, it is due to 99% of ignorance plus 1% of shamelessness. We residents need to be fully aware of the contamination and what it takes to clean it up before any further development.”

Resident Cheok Wong signed the petition and wrote “don’t build and stir the toxic chemicals around! Keep it undisturbed!” Another signee, Reena Sharma, writes she is concerned about “health, safety and preserving neighborhood quality of life.”

Linda Imbriale signed it and commented, “We have enough contaminated land on Long Island. If there’s any reason to believe this land is toxic, why wouldn’t you test first?”

James Burdge signed the petition and commented on the history of the site and operations of the defense industry in proximity to Syosset and northcentral Long Island.

Grumman-US Navy in Bethpage, Hooker Chemical Co in Hicksville who both created the Bethpage plume, as well as a dozen other US Defense Contractors sent their hazardous toxic and radioactive waste to the TOB Landfill. The Town of Oyster Bay DPW and Cerro Wire properties as well as surrounding neighborhoods must be PROPERLY tested for radiation in the soils and groundwater by a 3rd party independent consultant unconflicted with the Town or the Developer and coordinated with the community before the DEIS is approved to determine the appropriate environmental clean-up of the radioactive landfill waste, soils, and plume before a properly planned sustainable development with minimum impact to the community can be designed and developed,” he said.

Theresa Walch, who has addressed the Town Board many times and spoke about concerns over Syosset Park at the Syosset Board of Education meeting on April 17, signed the petition and commented: “I have recurring breast cancer. I lived in Syosset 20 years. I watched many of my neighbors die horrible deaths and suffer from heartbreaking debilitating illnesses related to this property. There has been no radiation testing. The only study here has been for a breast cancer study. I have talked to many people over the years with too many cancers to list…. It is criminal to develop this land without radiation testing of the site and surrounding five communities,” Walch said.

One response to “Petition calls for independent testing for Syosset Park development”

  1. Lorraine Burnard says:

    Great article. I did notice typos. Thank you

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