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Kings Park Discussion at LaQuinta

March 9, 2007 @ 12:00 am EST


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This morning’s meeting was held at LaQuinta instead of our usual location.The meeting was sponsored by Joe Oliveri  and LaQuinta, as well as Cliff Sondock from The Land Use institute and Mike O’Reilly of Trade winds Environmental Restoration.

The topic was; “What Should Be Developed at Kings Park Psychiatric Center.” Most of the hospitals and facilities buildings were abandoned years ago. The property was severely polluted during its service life and the responsibility for cleaning it up is the source of most of the rhetoric that pervades any discussion.

The format of having a panel discuss any problem opens up the opportunities of having a “food fight.” This particularly true when you have strong personalities on the panel such as;Jack Kulka, Smithtown Supervisor Pat Vecchio, Land Use Director Cliff Sondock and Carmine Martuscello from  Racanelli Construction. Then there were the local people who are emotionally involved in the issue. It was a spirited discussion to say the least. The good news is, we all walked out of the room with the feeling that we agreed on at least one thing. That is;The property must be cleaned up, and the state has the responsibility of doing it. It is the state’s responsibility because the pollution was put there on their watch.

The discussions about whether or not any construction should take place and what that development should consist of, gave rise to some sharp exchanges. Despite that we were able to carry out a dialogue that gave us good information. Some of that information was new to me and new to a lot of other people too. For example the state has already set aside $25 million to be applied to the environmental clean-up. It was pointed out that the true cost estimate was over $50 million. Jack Kulka suggested that the money we have be applied to the first stage of the work at once, instead of waiting for the rest of the money. Later we can petition for the rest.

The prospect of developing the land for commercial use, or the building of homes for that, matter did not resonate well with most of the crowd.

We also learned that there is a power plant on the property that was completely modernized in the 1990’s and never used. It is a gas fired unit, and It has been “mothballed” and could be used if needed.

In any event the final use precludes total development, except for about 92 acres. The rest of the almost 500 acres would remain park. Perhaps that’s the way it should be, but that would only happen after a clean-up is completed. If this property ends up being a park then let’s make it a magnificent place where all of us can be proud of it.

Pictured: Carmine Martuscello (Racanelli Construction), Pat Vecchio (Town Supervisor), Jack Kulka (Kulka Construction), Clifford Sondock (Land Use Institute).