A neighborhood blemish may finally be razed this summer. The former site of Rockaway Metal Products, a decaying building at 175 Roger Ave. in Inwood, is targeted to be demolished in the summer, according to County Legislator Carriè Solages (D-Elmont).
The location was named a New York Department of Environmental Conservation Superfund site due to the discovery of hazardous chemicals during an inspection in 1992.
Nassau County has owned the land and building since 1995. On April 24 of last year the County Legislature voted to borrow $2.1 million to demolish the building. Solages said that the county will handle the demolition, but the environmental contamination is the responsibility of the purchaser
The county began accepting bids for the site on Jan. 30, and Solages said there’s been considerable interest from a few bidders. “We’ve been receiving bids, and because of the sensitivity of the area I’m pushing for this [demolition] to be expedited by public works,” he said.
Damaged in a fire in 2011, the building has become an impromptu shelter for homeless people and has begun to collapse. Once it’s taken down the new owners would have to collaborate with the DEC to decontaminate the soil. The DEC would evaluate plans provided by the buyer and provide a certificate of completion assuming the plans meet their standards and are carried out.
Named a Class 2 site, as most superfund sites on Long Island are classified. Hazardous waste and/or the components of the original chemicals have seeped into the soil.
Bill Fonda, a DEC spokesman, explained that, “In general, most sites on Long Island are given Class 2 classifications because of Long Island's sole source aquifer. When sites are in investigation phases they generally have a non-numbered site classification code and when successful remediation work has taken place a Class 2 classification generally becomes a Class 4 classification.”
According to the site record, arsenic, lead and cadmium are among the carcinogenic contaminants found in the soil. In 1992, the federal Environmental Protection Agency discovered 240 55-gallon leaking drums, a 5,000-gallon tanker trailer in disrepair and dry wells that appeared to contain potentially flammable sludge. From 1993 through 1995 the EPA removed the materials, but the contamination lingered.
As a Class 2 site, 175 Roger Ave. is ineligible for the Brownfield Cleanup Program, according to the DEC. The program’s goal is to encourage private companies to clean up the sites and promote their redevelopment though financial incentives. Both Class 1 and 2 sites are excluded, however, the new owners could reapply and the DEC would review their claim.
This would increase the cost of the process for a buyer, although Solages said that as the county is covering the demolition of the building he believes it to still be an attractive opportunity, even without money from the Brownfield Cleanup Program.
Fonda said the time frame for decontamination will depend on how motivated the new owners are to clean the area, and that afterwards they are able to apply for tax credits that may help offset the cost of decontamination.
Vickie Mauro, president of the Inwood Civic Association lives a block away on Cherry Street. She said that she’s looking forward to the eyesore being removed, but after so long she’ll believe something is happening when she sees it. “We’ve seen things that said it was sold before, but no one’s done anything with it yet,” she said.