Glen Cove brownfields in line for Albany support

Recent Google Earth view of Sea Cliff Avenue.

Roughly 630 acres across two Nassau County sites are among the statewide properties designated Thursday for Albany-supported revitalization opportunities.

All told, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the designation of 11 new Brownfield Opportunity Areas – blighted zones where redevelopment efforts get special consideration on state-grant applications and access to tax credits through a state effort to remediate blighted urban properties and spur economic development.

“Brownfields” are loosely described by urban planners as land previously hosting industrial or commercial uses where soil contaminants exceed environmental health standards. Short of a nationally designated Superfund site, which is contaminated by high concentrations of hazardous waste, a brownfield may or may not have been abandoned – and is not beyond remediation, as defined by current pollution standards.

Through a months-long nomination and selection process, the New York Department of State named 11 new Brownfield Opportunity Areas, including two in Nassau: the Orchard Neighborhood, an approximately 109-acre area in the City of Glen Cove with 10 distinct potential brownfield sites, and New Cassel, a roughly 520-acre area in the Town of North Hempstead with 176 potential brownfield sites, according to the governor’s office.

The Orchard Neighborhood is bordered by Cedar Swamp Road, a Long Island Rail Road right-of-way and industrial properties on Sea Cliff Avenue. A majority of the area is in Glen Cove, though a small portion sits within the Town of Oyster Bay. A $150,000 grant helped local officials plot out various revitalization objectives, including remediation of contaminated sites, jobs creation and new affordable-housing initiatives.

“This program will allow us to implement planning strategies to put underutilized, blighted and vacant properties back to productive reuse, as well as putting them back on the tax rolls,” said Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello, who noted officials would focus first on the long-vacant Coles Elementary School, a circa-1930 structure on four acres near the Glen Cove LIRR station.

Nearly five times as large, the New Cassel property – located in the northwest section of North Hempstead – encompasses the New Cassel hamlet and adjacent industrial areas. A $180,000 grant helped town officials identify similar goals, including cleanup, increased economic activity and new housing opportunities; the New Cassel proposal also included a call for open space and new recreational facilities.

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the town was grateful for the BOA designation, which will help “generate quality-of-life improvements and economic development for the benefit of residents and businesses in New Cassel.”

The BOAs will receive “priority status” on state grant applications related to remediation and redevelopment, while development projects at the 11 sites will be eligible for Brownfield Cleanup Program tax incentives.

Secretary of State Cesar Perales said the designations would “spur the collaboration of public and private investment” around the 11 BOAs, while Cuomo called them “a vital first step in revitalizing lands left to ruin in communities across the Empire State.”

“Despite being ignored for years, these sites each have tremendous potential for developing local economies,” the governor added. “This new status gives these areas greater access to state resources needed to get projects underway.”