Lawrence Aviation buildings demolished, redevelopment awaited

Lawrence Aviation buildings demolished, redevelopment awaited

Conceptual plans for the 126-acre Lawrence Aviation Superfund site in Port Jefferson Station. Graphic from Suffolk County Landbank

By Sabrina Artusa

The long-abandoned Lawrence Aviation Superfund site in Port Jefferson Station is now completely demolished, and nearly ready for development.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been pursuing a contract to purchase 40 acres of the property to convert into a rail yard. Another portion is expected to be used for a solar farm. The rest will likely be preserved as open space. 

Herb Mones, Friends of the Greenway editor-in-chief and president of the Three Village Community Trust, wrote in an email that while there hasn’t been an official sale to either the MTA or to a solar farm firm, it is likely that these sales will happen and that a portion of the Greenway trail will have to be rerouted to accommodate a new rail yard. 

“This is great news for the surrounding community as it finally clears a giant eyesore and place for hanging out,” said Charlie McAteer, chair of Friends of the Greenway. “The idea of relocating the train yard to this site, along with the proposed passive solar farm and one-third of the space as open space, is a great benefit to all.”

The buildings are indeed demolished, but the area may need to undergo further examination to ensure that all harmful chemicals are neutralized. In order to continue with development plans, the Environmental Protection Agency is investigating for any residual contamination. The EPA expects to have more knowledge about the land’s status this summer. If further extensive remediation is required, it will be addressed in a public meeting. 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website stated, “Remediation activities will continue for several years to come. The site cleanup activities will also result in site safety and security, allowing for a planned solar farm to be installed in the former footprint of the site buildings.

According to Mones, the MTA and the NYS Department of Transportation are in disagreement over a portion of the Greenway. Reportedly, the NYSDOT is unwilling to relinquish the portion of the Greenway that the MTA plans to use for the new rail yard. 

The MTA hasn’t explicitly stated any intention to electrify the Port Jefferson Branch line. TBR News Media reported MTA CEO Janno Lieber as having said at an October meeting that electrification of the line was under consideration. 

In rerouting, Friends of the Greenway wants to ensure the preservation of the trail experience, and has noted “requirements” such as security barriers between the rail yard and the path, a “significant buffer” between the path and homes, and accessibility. 

“The redevelopment of the Lawrence Aviation property will benefit the wider community,” Mones said. “The removal of the buildings finally brings to an end a decaying, dilapidated industrial site that often attracted criminal activity: vandalism, graffiti, trespassing.”