Group Rips State's Sale of Facility Site
Saturday, November 12th 2005
Deborah S. Morris, Staff Writer
About 200 angry residents turned out Friday to protest the sale of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center site because they said the ground is contaminated with dangerous metals.
Chanting "Stop the sale, clean up your mess" and waving placards, the adults and children marched about a block along Route 25A to the entrance of the former facility, to say the state's contract with the Arker Companies to develop the land is no good because the site is environmentally contaminated.
"It's a very political deal. An unbelievable deal that does not benefit Kings Park," said Rob Trotta, one of the event's organizers.
"We want to stop the sale. We have researched this deal and it stinks. The site needs to be cleaned up by New York State because they are the ones who polluted it. The state owes us something and it doesn't appear they are listening," he said.
In January, the Empire State Development Corp. accepted a $6.5-million bid from Woodmere-based Arker Companies for the land. Trotta said the deal may be tainted by political patronage because Charles Gargano, Gov. George Pataki's chief campaign fundraiser, is the head of Empire, and Arker Companies was one of the governor's biggest campaign contributors.
Trotta also complained the contract says that 1,800 high-density housing units will be built there but does not say anything about cleaning up the 368-acre site, which he says is polluted by mercury, arsenic and lead.
"The contract has been left intentionally vague," Trotta said. "There is no criteria which says how the site will be cleaned up. How can there be a fair bidding process when there is no criteria to go on?" he asked.
In an undated statement released Friday by the Arker Companies, George J. Carfagno, a spokesman for the firm said, "We are committed to working with our neighbors and other stakeholders to propose a redevelopment plan that will meet community objectives. ... When closing is behind us, we will be able to pursue redevelopment planning in earnest and work with the community in a process of dialogue and accommodation."
However, Trotta said residents are prepared to take the fight to the next level.
"We are not going to stop. We are going to raise money and sue the state of New York for not cleaning it up if we have to."
This article was written by Deborah S. Morris, Staff Writer and published by Newsday on Saturday, November 12th 2005 and NOT owned by nor affiliated with opacity.us, but are recorded here solely for educational use. The photographs featured in the article are randomly selected from the Kings Park Psychiatric Center galleries on opacity.us unless noted otherwise; they may not directly relate to the article subject matter except for the site location - any other relation is purely coincidental.