Questions ranging from air and water quality, noise pollution and park use to rodents and vermin were raised by residents during a meeting held Thursday by the New York State Parks Department regarding the demolition of selected buildings at the former Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital site.
Officials outlined asome of which have been condemned and contain asbestos and hazardous materials, in a plan they called well thought out and safe.
But one resident paralleled the 9/11 air quality issues and subsequent health issues that affected those close to the site.
“I live close by. I have children. I want to be insured that they (parks officials) are not going to say sorry later on,” said one resident who asked not to be named.
“We are dealing with a different situation here than 9/11,” said Ron Foley, regional director of parks for New York State. “This project has been studied, researched and planned,” said Foley. “There has been a long term planning and approach to this. It is not an emergency situation of diving in and taking care of the problem overnight."
Buildings on the property have become a habitat and haven for birds as well as rodents. Destroying the structures will likely result in their movement to other places, potentially the community. Officials say they are aware of the problem and will take steps to mitigate the problem.
“We have already consulted with a local firm in Kings Park that is familiar with local vermin and rodents,” said one official. “The concern is when the buildings come down, these critters need a place to go. You are probably going to see some Havahart traps around the buildings. We have to relocate them into other suitable habitat within the park," he said.
"What we don’t want to have happen is having the vermin getting into the community,” he said.
An engineering consulting firm will help to regulate the safety of the project and will provide monitors that will be used to regulate air borne particulates. An audible alarm will sound if air quality standards are not being met. According to Richard Walka, vice president of Dvirka and Bartilucci, the consulting firm that has been hired, water is used to wet the area down, helping to limit the amount of particulates that become air borne.
A special projects manager, appointed by the parks department will communicate with town officials, providing updates as well as be a point person, according to Foley.
“There are also going to be people, project monitors who will be there to give a good old fashioned eyeball to what is going on,” said Walka.
Officials say they will continue to inform the public through additional meetings and that plans for the project are available at the administration building located in the park.
“As we approach the project we will be more aggressive with the people around the property and will get out more intense, frequent communication about the property," said Foley.