By all accounts, demolition progress at the former Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital is going well, in fact ahead of schedule according to one parks official.
Brian X. Foley, deputy state parks regional director said, speaking at the Thursday evening Kings Park Civic Association meeting, the expectation is that it will be complete before the fall of 2013.
The plan, which will demolish 19 buildings on the property, calls for the most dilapidated buildings to be removed first. Work at the marina, which includes removing the barge, is slated to begin the end of November. Foley said once the barge is removed, the view for those on land would be sweeping.
“You will have a more incredible view of the harbor area. It will be a really fine view, one of the best, right here in Kings Park.”
Foley said the expectation is that there will be a second round of demolition after the first phase is completed. Foley gave no clear date on when that would take place or when a master plan for the area would be developed.
“Once the second phase is complete, then we can take an appraisal of the landscape and think in terms of a master plan,” said Foley.
Residents in attendance at the Thursday evening meeting questioned the reluctance of the parks department to commit to a date on a master plan.
“We share the same frustration,” said Mike Rosato, chairman of the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation, at Thursday's meeting.
“The focus is to make sure this job is done right,” said Foley. State parks had allocated up to $15 million to undertake the demolition project. Bidding had come in well below that number. The contract was awarded to to Indiana based National Salvage and Service Corp. for $6.4 million.
The funding comes from a $25 million state budget appropriation initiated in 2006 by Sen. John Flanagan. Foley said their is not enough money allocated to demolish all the buildings.
“There won’t be enough money left. Part of the master plan will be to come up with a schedule of funding,” said Foley.
Sean Lehmann, president of the civic association said his group formally requested a master plan about a year ago and that the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation did as well.
"There is a historical value to some of these buildings. For the buildings that we can save, it will be too late," said Lehmann.
Though news that the demolition was gong well, one audience member referring to the amount of time that has lapsed since the hospital closed, scoffed, “sixteen-years is ahead of schedule?”
"We are not going to live to see it," said Barbara, who declined to give her last name. "This is a long, long process."
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