Tags Posts tagged with "Landfill"

Landfill

Pixabay photo

Here on Long Island, local governments have been historically responsible for treating and disposing of solid waste. This dynamic is no longer workable.

Managing waste is among the most crucial functions of government. Without these services, untreated garbage would threaten the health and safety of our residents and endanger our local environment. 

However, treating solid waste entails ever-increasing costs to dispose of the trash and keep up with the fast-paced regulatory climate. Those costs will only compound in the years to come. 

In Port Jefferson, the village government is engaged in a messy permit dispute with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation over a small landfill it uses for branch and leaf pickup services. New DEC regulations targeting landfills have impacted Port Jeff’s kettle hole, entangling this small village in a much broader regulatory conflict. 

The controversy may be affecting Port Jeff right now, but it will soon involve nearly every community on Long Island. Plans are underway to close the Brookhaven Town Landfill by 2024, which serves the entire region, precipitating a garbage crisis here on Long Island.

From these examples we are learning that solid waste treatment is not merely a local policy concern. It is integrated within a much larger context, affecting neighboring communities, regions and states. 

Solid waste landfills, where much of our garbage is stored, are also significant emitters of greenhouse gases. These facilities may soon be prime targets for oversight and regulation under plans to curb the effects of climate change. 

At TBR News Media, we are committed to the premise that local government is closest and, therefore, most accountable to the people. Local control gives residents a stake in what goes on within their community’s boundaries. But garbage is blind to these political distinctions and its hazardous effects often cross over these lines, impacting our neighbors. The problem is too grand for any one municipality to handle on its own.

Effective waste management is an increasingly regional, national and even global phenomenon. The situation calls for a coordinated and efficient response from these higher tiers of government. 

Sustaining local control over waste management will soon come with a crippling price tag for municipalities and taxpayers alike. State and federal regulators will place heavy restrictions on the operators of solid waste landfills — local governments — passing the burden of cost and regulatory compliance onto these smaller governments.

Over time, municipalities will have to devote more resources and staff to their garbage, eating away at their budgets and diverting vital funds from other local programs and constituent services. All of this runs counter to the original idea of local autonomy.

Now is the right time for local governments to evaluate their involvement in waste management. Municipalities should seriously consider transitioning these duties to higher levels of government — such as counties or the state — with oversight from regional planning councils composed of delegates from our communities. 

A consolidated waste management apparatus could be more efficient and less restrictive for small governments, freeing up money and attention for local matters within their control.

At the individual level, we must also take steps to limit our impact on landfills. On Long Island, we don’t even have reliable measures of recycling rates, let alone a plan to bring those levels up. Furthermore, many ordinary household items have the potential for reuse. Residents should take advantage of special recycling events that assign these items a reuse value.

While policymakers work out the nuances of an integrated waste management hierarchy, we can do our part to limit our contribution to solid waste landfills. These complex problems may find meaningful solutions if governments and citizens act responsibly.

An aerial view of Town of Brookhaven’s Green Stream Recycling plant in Yaphank is surrounded by recyclables in August 2018. Brookhaven has since returned to dual stream recycling. Photo from Town of Smithtown

It’s a rubbish time to be involved in the recycling industry.

The Town of Brookhaven’s recycling plant is grappling with unprecedented mounds of bottles, used paper goods and trash. Ever since China implemented its “National Sword” policy in January banning the import of various nonindustrial plastics, paper and other solid wastes, Brookhaven’s had a hard time selling off collected recyclable materials. As China was one of the top buyers of U.S. recyclables according to NPR, this move has left many Suffolk townships unsure what to do with their residents’ recycled garbage.

To recycle or not: Tips  on handling your trash

By Kyle Barr

Operators of the Brookhaven recycling plant deal with a lot of junk. Not the good kind of junk, however, as many household items that residents assume can be recycled can cause havoc in the machinery.

In the four years since the town invested in single-stream recycling,  Erich Weltsek, a recycling coordination aid for Brookhaven, said there has been increased resident participation in the recycling program. But it has also led to some residents chucking in items that have no business being recycled.

We’ve gotten chunks of concrete, and you even get sports balls — like soccer balls, footballs — constantly,” he said. “A lot of what we call ‘wish cycling,’ where people think they’re doing the right thing and when in doubt they throw it in a recycle bin instead of the right receptacle.”

Weltsek said people have tried to recycle Coleman outdoor stoves and propane tanks, which is extremely dangerous and could result in an explosion at the facility.

The most pervasively disruptive items are plastic bags and other items that Weltsek called “tanglers,” such as Christmas tree lights, pool liners and garden hoses. The recycling facility operates on a number of conveyor belts that first feed into a device called a star screen, a number of rotating cylinders with feet that separate recyclable fibers from other items. These items either wrap around the wheels on the conveyor belt or star screen, either letting fibers through the wrong end or stopping the machine entirely.

Suffolk residents should clean out any plastic bottles or cans before putting them in the recycling. Any low-quality paper products or grease-stained cardboard such as used pizza boxes, should not be recycled because they affect the sellable quality of the entire recycling bundle.

Andrade said all plastic bags should be recycled at a local supermarket, which are mandated by New York State law to have a receptacle for all shopping bags.

The plant often has to turn away other nonrecyclable material, such as plastic utensils, bottle caps and Styrofoam. All of these are considered contaminants, either because they cannot be recycled properly, or they
dilute the quality of the material.

“While it hasn’t stopped it, China’s new policies have significantly slowed down the ability of recyclers to move material to market,” said  Christopher Andrade, commissioner of Brookhaven Town’s waste management department. “There are domestic mills and domestic markets [but] the thing is just finding them, negotiating them and moving the material.”

That is easier said than done, according to Andrade, as many recycling plants across the nation now have fewer options of where to sell their collected goods. China has publicly claimed the decision has to do with the quality of the materials, as low-quality newspaper print or thin PVC plastics are not considered valuable enough for reuse. There’s also the problem of recyclables being mixed with other, nonreusable garbage.

In 2014, Brookhaven moved from dual-stream to single-stream recycling, a system that allows residents to put out all their recyclables in a single can to be sorted out at the town’s facilities instead of bringing out a different material — plastic, papers or metal — every other week. This increased overall participation in the recycling program, Andrade said, but has led to some confusion.

The loss of the Chinese market has severely interrupted the Brookhaven-owned Green Stream Recycling facility’s outflow. Green Stream Recycling LLC, a company that contracts with the town and operates the town’s facility in Yaphank, made good use of China’s market. While the facility continues to operate without a definitive answer to where else the company can move its materials, some of it is now going back into the landfill, according to Andrade.

This crisis is not only affecting the Town of Brookhaven, but other municipalities on Long Island which sell their collected recyclables to Suffolk County’s largest township. In 2014, the Town of Smithtown formed a five-year contract with Brookhaven to send 12,000 tons of garbage to the Green Stream facility,  in return for $180,000 per year. While Brookhaven continues to honor the agreements with its partnered municipalities, the lack of market availability for recyclables has some members of Smithtown Town Board concerned.

At a Sept. 4 work session, Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) showed board members a photo taken by a drone in May showing recyclables piled in heaps just outside Brookhaven’s facility. The picture made Wehrheim and other board members question what might become of the town’s current recycling agreement.

“At one point, we’re going to come to some decision what to do with [Brookhaven Town,] Wehrheim said. “It could be a potential problem … in the short term.”

Andrade said that excess dumping on the facility’s land came from the “shock” of China’s National Sword policy being implemented earlier this year, though he said the situation has since been brought under control. Despite these international issues, Andrade said Brookhaven remains committed to recycling.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) “and the board believe very strongly in recycling, and we’ll bounce back from this,” he said.

The markets are being overwhelmed; the people taking the material can be picky on what they accept. We’re going to have to respond by being better at only putting out the things that people can actually reuse.”

— Russell Barnett

Russell Barnett, Smithtown’s environmental protection director in the Department of Environment and Waterways, said he is working on a solution with Brookhaven, including a regional approach comprising Smithtown, Huntington, Southold and several other communities that are partnered with Brookhaven.

Smithtown had its own dual-stream facility that was closed before it started sending its materials to Brookhaven in 2014, though reopening it could be costly.

“We’re assessing our equipment — seeing what’s operational, what’s not, what repairs need to be made and what upgrades need to be made if the occasion comes up that we want to go that route,” Barnett said.

In the meantime, he said residents need to be more discriminating when it comes to deciding what items to recycle. Otherwise, it will be much harder in the future to find a buyer for the world’s recyclable garbage.

“When they talk about the standard, they’re not just talking about nonrecyclable material
but the right kind of recyclable material.” Barnett said. “The markets are being overwhelmed; the people taking the material can be picky on what they accept. We’re going to have to respond by being better at only putting out the things that people can actually reuse.”

by -
0 1651

When done drinking a bottled water or soda, we usually make a conscious effort to get it into a recycling bin. No further thought given, our good deed is done. We’ve recycled the plastic bottle rather than throwing it out to sit in a landfill.

The photos released that clearly show the Town of Brookhaven’s Green Stream Recycling facility was nearly buried in mountains of collected recyclables from the residents of Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington townships this August are shocking. It should serve as an alarming wake-up call.

This is a direct result of China implementing its National Sword policy to ban the import of recycled plastics. The visual impact of recyclables piling up like trash, and learning some items are now being sent to the landfill, have led us to the conclusion this is an issue that requires careful thought and attention.

We, and we’re sure many of our readers, have lived with the presumption our recycled plastic bottles, aluminum cans and used paper were sorted, cleaned and reformed into reusable materials locally. However, we were blissfully unaware that China imported nearly half of the world’s recyclables to turn into raw goods through its manufacturing economy.

Now, with changing international trade policy, shipping our recyclables — or honestly, still household garbage — halfway around the world is no longer an option. Suffolk County’s townships are struggling to figure out a new way to handle the piles of debris. Finding a new market for these recycled raw materials will pose an obvious challenge. Striking a balance of recycling items beneficial from a fiscal and economic viewpoint while weighing environmental impact is a challenge on the horizon as well.

One of Brookhaven’s recycling staff suggested Suffolk residents need to be more discerning. Get back to the basics of checking plastic bottles for a number inside a triangular arrow on the bottom and rinse all containers out first. It will help improve the value of the recycled material we are trying to sell in a drastically reduced global market.

It’s a good first step. But we need take it one step further.

The most direct way we, as individuals, can help provide a solution to the problem is to cut back on our dependency on one-time use items. It’s been said for years, but we truly need to start regularly grabbing a refillable water bottle rather than a disposable. Think about taking up the “hipster” trend of using Mason jars to store food. Go back to old-fashioned, but traditional Pyrex to store leftovers instead of limited-use thin plastic containers.

These small changes may seem hard at first, but we have proof it’s possible. Sure, every Suffolk resident balked at the idea of paying 5 cents for a plastic bag at retail stores when the policy was implemented in January. In less than a year, it’s seemed to have had a dramatic effect in changing behaviors. Many shoppers now simply carry their own reusable canvas and plastic bags.

Permanent change is necessary if we don’t want to be buried up to our necks in trash on Long Island. Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) has predicted a “garbage crisis” within the next seven to eight years as Brookhaven looks to close its landfill. Let’s be part of the solution, and not the problem. Let’s focus on using reusable products, not recyclable or disposable.

The former Steck-Philbin Landfill on Old Northport Road in Kings Park is one of the eight blighted brownfields that the Suffolk County Landbank requested proposals for repurposing. Image from Suffolk County Landbank Corp.

The site of the former Steck-Philbin Landfill in Kings Park was slated to be repurposed this year as part of a countywide effort to eliminate blighted properties, as the Suffolk County Legislature approved a contract with Powercrush Inc. and Vision Associates LLC to develop on the land. However, another business that put in a proposal for the landfill site has criticized the deal and has called for an investigation of the operations of Suffolk County Landbank Corp. for development of public properties.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of Ecological Engineering of Long Island, said he believes Powercrush and Vision Associates “had neither the ability nor the good-faith intention to build a solar farm and that the Suffolk County Landbank was either willingly complicit or, at a minimum, completely inept during this process.”

In a letter and phone interview Nuzzo brought up the connections Powercrush has with donating to political campaigns — including two members of the Suffolk County Legislature — and said the current approved resolution that does not state the contract will include a solar farm on the property.

In January 2016, the county landbank, a not-for-profit entity that works with the county to redevelop tax-delinquent properties, issued a request for proposals to revitalize eight brownfields, including the landfill in Kings Park. About two months later Nuzzo’s company submitted a proposal for a 6-megawatt solar farm that he said could generate nearly 8 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity in its first year. He also said EELI would finance, build and operate the solar farm through a crowdfunding campaign, seeking small investments from everyday Suffolk County residents. The plan would be to sell 25,000 “solar shares” in the farm at $500 each. Some local officials threw their support behind Nuzzo, including state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station).

Out of the several proposals given to the county, the plan with Powercrush, a Kings Park company, was selected to move forward, with the same goal of reusing the site for solar farming. County Executive Steve Bellone (D) praised the plan as a turning point for dealing with blighted properties, and Amy Keyes, executive director of the county landbank, said in a past interview Powercrush was selected based on a number of qualifications, including design, impact and feasibility.

County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said the creation of the county landbank was his idea, and the process of selecting Powercrush and Vision was “completely fair.” He said claims that landbank operations are in need of an investigation are “not a credible argument.”

“We evaluated those proposals based on merit, [EELI] came up short,” Gregory said in a phone interview. “These were cases of not being able to say what you can do, but being able to do what you can say, and the strongest proposal with the best benefit to the taxpayer was Powercrush. Each proposal got a score sheet and they scored the highest.”

Nuzzo said he tried to see the winning proposal, to compare it to his own and see how his company could improve for the future, but he was unsuccessful.

“I can only speculate that the winning proposal was so inadequate and incomplete that the county is embarrassed to share it,” he said in a previous interview. “It’s a shame, because our proposal to build Long Island’s first community-owned solar farm could have been a landmark moment for Suffolk County. Instead what we got was politics as usual.”

Nuzzo said he also had an issue with the fact that the development may no longer be a solar farm. After the original resolution was passed by the Legislature, which included the intention of building a solar farm, an amended resolution was passed this past March that approved moving forward with the Powercrush and Vision contract without the language of it being a solar farm.

“If the selected bidder is unwilling or unable to develop the land in accordance with their proposal, then their bid should be voided,” Nuzzo said. “Powercrush and Vision Associates were awarded this parcel based on their plan to construct a 4-megawatt solar farm.”

Nuzzo said he’s concerned with the system as a whole.

“This is about how Suffolk County issues its contracts,” he said. “This is more of a condemnation of the system as a whole.”

However Sarah Lansdale, president of the county landbank, said a solar requirement was never a part of the original proposal from the county.

“There was nothing requiring the end use had to be a solar farm,” Lansdale said in a phone interview. “There was no foul play here. They proposed solar and if they didn’t win the contract with PSEG the redevelopment site still needs to be something acceptable to the community.”

Powercrush and Vision did lose their bid with PSEG Long Island for a power purchase agreement. However Mike Rosato, of Vision Associates, said a solar farm idea had not been scrapped.

“The original [proposal from the county] did not require a solar farm, but yes this might still be a solar project,” he said in a phone interview. “The whole idea of this project is to make something good for the community.”

Rosato said in a letter their proposal was chosen for many reasons including financial capacity to successfully implement the project and demonstrating the experience to successfully carry out the project; demonstrating the ability to start the remediation and redevelopment process within six months of tax deed transfer; and improving the environmental condition of the property.

“Although our solar partner lost its bid with PSEG Long Island, we clearly stated in our original proposal that in the event this were to happen we would work to identify another industrial end use that would be acceptable to the community and permitted by the [Town of Smithtown],” Rosato said. “Our intentions have always been to reuse the site for renewable energy and we will continue to pursue that objective.”

As for Nuzzo’s concerns with political ties, he pointed out Toby Carlson, owner of Powercrush, has donated to several political campaigns, including county Legislators Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) and Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills). Trotta recused himself from the Legislature votes on this issue, and said he has repeatedly tried to convince Rosato not to invest in this property because of the extensive work required to make it functional.

“If the original [proposal from the county] had required solar I would be screaming and [Nuzzo] would be 100 percent right,” Trotta said in a phone interview. “But it didn’t, that’s just not true.”

Stern did not return any requests for comment.

A satellite view of the Steck-Philbin Landfill site that the County plans to repurpose in cooperation with the Suffolk County Landbank. Image from Suffolk County Landbank Corp.

A former landfill in Kings Park has been transferred into the hands of a nearby developer with the intention of rehashing the site into a solar farm.

The site of the former Steck-Philbin Landfill on Old Northport Road in Kings Park has withstood 30 years of tax delinquency but was selected as part of an effort from the Suffolk County Landbank Corp. to be revitalized along with seven other brownfields across the county. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) signed the transfer of the property into law on June 2, allowing Landbank — a not-for-profit — to begin revisioning the parcel with developer Powercrush Inc., of Kings Park, with the goal of reusing the site for solar farming.

Powercrush Inc. did not return requests seeking comment, but Bellone heralded the deal as a turning point for blighted spots on Long Island.

“These properties have been a burden on our taxpayers and a blight on our communities,” Bellone said.  “The inactivity at these locations dragged down neighboring property values and served as magnets for criminal activity.”

The site in Kings Park is still owned by Richard and Roslyn Steck of Steck & Philbin Development Co., though penalties and interest bring the total owed in property tax on the roughly 25 acres of land to nearly $1.5 million. The property has been tax delinquent since Steck & Philbin Development Co. was found to be using the site to dispose of waste for which they did not have a permit in 1986. It is located less than a half mile east of the Sunken Meadow Parkway and about a half mile west of Indian Head Road.

The property is next to the future location of a multisport complex being developed by Prospect Sports Partners LLC. The $33 million plan for the 44-acre site was approved in July 2015.

A property is classified as a brownfield if there are complications in expansion or redevelopment based on the possible presence of pollutants or hazardous materials, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The Suffolk County Landbank was established in 2013 after its application was approved by the New York State Empire State Development Corporation. Some of the other brownfields included in the request for proposals include Hubbard Power and Light and a gas station on Brentwood Road in Bay Shore, Lawrence Junkyard in Islip and Liberty Industrial Finishing in Brentwood, among others. The group issued a competitive Request For Proposals (RFP) to the public for redevelopment of the eight specific sites and selected three developers to take title to four sites.

The four sites, on average, have been tax delinquent for 21 years and cumulatively owe over $4 million in back taxes. Once back on the tax rolls, the properties would pay a cumulative property tax of more than $175,000 per year.

The developers selected “possessed the qualifications and expertise to clean up the properties and reuse them in a way that benefits the community, stabilizes the tax base, and protects Suffolk County’s soil and groundwater,” the county said in a statement.

Amy Keys, executive director of the Landbank, said Powercrush was selected based on a number of qualifications, including design, impact and feasibility. Its partnership with BQ Energy LLC, which has worked on several solar projects across the region.

“[Smithtown] was clear they were supportive of solar happening there,” Keys said. “When reviewing solar proposals, we were looking for experience in developing solar on that scale, and a proposal that seemed feasible.”

Shawn Nuzzo, president of Ecological Engineering of Long Island, had also submitted a proposal for the site that he said had the potential to pump renewable energy into the Island’s power grid almost immediately. His proposal included a 6-megawatt solar farm as the largest landfill-to-solar project in New York State that could generate nearly 8 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity in its first year. The plan received support from various North Shore elected officials, including state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and others.

In an interview, Nuzzo said he was disappointed to learn of the county’s selection of Powercrush Inc. and accused the county of playing politics.

“This is the exact sort of ‘pay-to-play’ system that politicians like to say that they are against, but at the end of the day willingly corroborate, or at least turn a blind eye to. The seemingly endless series of Suffolk political scandals only serves to affirm that there must be a lot of blind eyes in Suffolk County politics,” Nuzzo said. “Despite the fact that the Suffolk County Legislature voted on the proposal and County Executive Bellone announced it at a press conference more than two weeks ago, the details of the proposal remain secret to the public. Our most recent [Freedom of Information Law] attempts have been thwarted by the Suffolk County Landbank. I can only speculate that the winning proposal was so inadequate and incomplete that the county is embarrassed to share it. It’s a shame, because our proposal to build Long Island’s first community-owned solar farm could have been a landmark moment for Suffolk County. Instead what we got was politics as usual.”

A satellite view of the Steck-Philbin Landfill site that the County plans to repurpose in cooperation with the Suffolk County Landbank. Image from Suffolk County Landbank Corp.

A North Shore-based group has answered the county’s calls to revitalize the site of a former landfill in Kings Park.

The Suffolk County Landbank Corp., which is a not-for-profit entity that works with the county to redevelop tax-delinquent properties, put out a request for proposals to completely rejuvenate eight brownfield spots across Suffolk, including the former Steck-Philbin Landfill on Old Northport Road in Kings Park. This week, Stony Brook’s Ecological Engineering of Long Island answered with a proposal to build Long Island’s first community-owned solar farm.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said the county wanted to team up with the private sector to revitalize the various brownfield sites and described them as blights on their respective communities. Shawn Nuzzo, president of Ecological Engineering of Long Island, said his group’s plan had the potential to pump renewable energy into the Island’s power grid almost immediately.

In a statement, Nuzzo described the 6-megawatt solar farm proposal as the largest landfill-to-solar project in New York state that could generate nearly 8 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity in its first year.

“Unlike other recent utility solar projects on Long Island – where large developers have proposed to clear-cut forests, raze golf courses and blanket farmable lands – our proposal takes a dangerous, long-blighted and otherwise useless parcel and revives it as a community-owned solar farm,” Nuzzo said. “The Kings Park Community Solar Farm will be a quiet, low-intensity land use generating nearly no automobile traffic after installation. As equally important, we will return proper ecosystem services to the site through the ecological restoration technique of phytoremediation — using native, low-light, low-lying and drought tolerant plants known for their long-term soil restorative properties.”

Related: Former landfill in Kings Park to be repurposed

A property is classified as a brownfield if there are complications in expansion or redevelopment based on the possible presence of pollutants or hazardous materials, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The site on Old Northport Road is still owned by Richard and Roslyn Steck, according to the Suffolk County Landbank Corporation Request for Proposals, though penalties and interest bring the total owed in property tax on the roughly 25 acres of land to nearly $1.5 million. The property has been tax delinquent since the Richard Steck, Gerald Philbin Development Co. was found to be using the site to dispose of waste that it did not have a permit for in 1986. It is located less than a half mile east of the Sunken Meadow Parkway and about a half mile west of Indian Head Road.

The former Steck-Philbin Landfill on Old Northport Road in Kings Park is one of the eight blighted brownfields that the Suffolk County Landbank requested proposals for repurposing. Image from Suffolk County Landbank Corp.
The former Steck-Philbin Landfill on Old Northport Road in Kings Park is one of the eight blighted brownfields that the Suffolk County Landbank requested proposals for repurposing. Image from Suffolk County Landbank Corp.

The property is next to the future location of a multisport complex being developed by Prospect Sports Partners LLC. The $33 million plan for the 44-acre site was approved in July 2015.

“This has been a long time coming and creating policies and procedures for the Landbank has been an arduous task, but I’m beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) said earlier this year when the county sought private sector support to revitalize the site. Cilmi is a member of the board of the Landbank. “Hopefully, soon we’ll see the remediation of this and other properties, which benefits our environment. We’ll put the properties back on the tax rolls, which means millions of dollars of savings for taxpayers.”

Nuzzo said Ecological Engineering of Long Island would finance, build and operate the solar farm through a crowdfunding campaign seeking small investments from everyday Suffolk County residents. The plan, he said, would be to sell 25,000 “solar shares” in the farm at $500 a piece.

“We calculate that the Kings Park Community Solar Farm will generate more than $24 million in gross revenue over a typical 20-year power purchase agreement. We will offer our investors a guaranteed 150 percent return on investment with annual payments deposited over the 20-year lifetime of the agreement,” he said. “Through design efficiencies we will maximize photovoltaic energy output to not only increase profit for our investors but also to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, which today — despite many residential and commercial PV installs — still represents the majority of Long Island’s energy production.”

The plan has already received support from various North Shore elected officials, including state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who threw support behind Nuzzo in a letter to the Suffolk County Landbank Corp.

“I am always happy to see younger members of our community active in civics, so it was especially heartening to this vibrant young man at the helm of my local civic association,” he said. “Mr. Nuzzo has also worked with the Setauket Harbor Task Force and was responsible for securing the donation of the use of a ‘solar trailer’ from a local solar installer to power our Setauket Harbor Day Festival last September with renewable solar energy.”

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) described Nuzzo as a “knowledgeable leader on environmental issues” who was “well versed in many modern environmental technologies and practices, including solar projects, LEED process and green technology.”

The Suffolk County Landbank was established in 2013 after its application was approved by the New York State Empire State Development Corporation. Some of the other brownfields included in the request for proposals include Hubbard Power and Light and a gas station on Brentwood Road in Bay Shore, Lawrence Junkyard in Islip and Liberty Industrial Finishing in Brentwood, among others. Cumulatively, the eight properties owe more than $11 million in delinquent taxes as of August 2015.

A satellite view of the Steck-Philbin Landfill site that the County plans to repurpose in cooperation with the Suffolk County Landbank. Image from Suffolk County Landbank Corp.

The site of the former Steck-Philbin Landfill on Old Northport Road in Kings Park will finally receive an overdue facelift after 30 years of tax delinquency. The Suffolk County Landbank Corp., which is a not-for-profit entity that works with the county to redevelop tax-delinquent properties, issued a request for proposals to revitalize eight brownfields, including the one in Kings Park, in a press release from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) in late January.

“We are working to partner with the private sector to revitalize brownfields sites which have been blights on communities for nearly two decades,” Bellone said in the release.

A property is classified as a brownfield if there are complications in expansion or redevelopment based on the possible presence of pollutants or hazardous materials, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The site on Old Northport Road is still owned by Richard and Roslyn Steck of Steck & Philbin Development Co., though penalties and interest bring the total owed in property tax on the roughly 25 acres of land to nearly $1.5 million. The property has been tax delinquent since Steck-Philbin Development Co. was found to be using the site to dispose of waste that they did not have a permit for in 1986. It is located less than a half mile east of the Sunken Meadow Parkway and about a half mile west of Indian Head Road.

The former Steck-Philbin Landfill on Old Northport Road in Kings Park is one of the eight blighted brownfields that the Suffolk County Landbank requested proposals for repurposing. Image from Suffolk County Landbank Corp.
The former Steck-Philbin Landfill on Old Northport Road in Kings Park is one of the eight blighted brownfields that the Suffolk County Landbank requested proposals for repurposing. Image from Suffolk County Landbank Corp.

“This has been a long time coming and creating policies and procedures for the Landbank has been an arduous task, but I’m beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) said in the release. Cilmi is a member of the board of the Landbank. “Hopefully, soon we’ll see the remediation of this and other properties, which benefits our environment. We’ll put the properties back on the tax rolls, which means millions of dollars of savings for taxpayers.”

The Suffolk County Landbank was established in 2013 after their application was approved by the New York State Empire State Development Corporation, according to the release.

“This program represents a tremendous opportunity that will help remediate these contaminated and blighted properties, transforming community burdens into community assets,” Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos said.

The property in Kings Park is next to the future location of a multisport complex being developed by Prospect Sports Partners LLC. The $33 million plan for the 44-acre site was approved in July 2015.

Some of the other brownfields included in the request for proposals include Hubbard Power and Light and a gas station on Brentwood Road in Bay Shore, Lawrence Junkyard in Islip and Liberty Industrial Finishing in Brentwood, among others. Cumulatively, the eight properties owe more than $11 million in delinquent taxes.

Proposals for the eight sites are due by March 18 and should be sent to the Suffolk County Landbank office on Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge.

If approved, BQ Energy would have to manage leftover debris at the solar farm site. Photo by Jared Cantor

A renewable energy company has its sights set on a former landfill in Kings Park to build a solar farm, but residents living nearby and conducting business there are not seeing the light.

The Smithtown Town Board considered a special exception request at its last meeting on Nov. 19 that would make way for roughly 18,000 solar panels on about 27 acres along Old Northport Road, according to Kings Park Solar LLC — a subsidiary group of the Poughkeepsie-based BQ Energy. The proposal was met with disdain, however, when residents voiced opposition on the grounds of potential health hazards and negative business consequences for a separate sport complex approved nearby.

A spokeswoman for Kings Park Solar said it would sell the electricity the panels produce to the utility company PSEG, similarly done at other solar and wind farms built throughout the state. If completed, the spokeswoman said the plan could offset more than 1,700 metric tons of carbon monoxide from the region.

Paul Curran, managing director of BQ Energy, said the project was designed like several other solar farms in Suffolk County and would pose no negative health effects because it would be a stationary system build on top of what used to be a landfill.

He said his group would work in compliance with the state Department of Environmental Conservation by consolidating two piles of waste left behind on the property and capping them before construction. Those piles would also be monitored by BQ Energy, he said.

“We look forward to working with our neighbors in the community,” Curran said at the meeting before several residents approached the dais to oppose the plan. “It is a very compatible use and we can fit in very well in the town of Smithtown and we look forward to that.”

But residents in the area were not convinced the proposal would not be a detriment to their health. Neil Rosenberg, president of the homeowners association for condominiums just north of the area in question, said the proposal was not compatible with the best interests of his neighbors. He requested that the board require BQ Energy to work with a neutral third party in drafting an environmental impact study on the solar farm plan.

“What I’ve learned tonight is that the people who are proposing it have said there is no radiation, no noise, nothing coming off this,” he said. “But there’s literature that says contrary. There’s too many unknowns in our opinion.”

And aside from health risks, residents argued that the solar farm would negatively affect a multimillion-dollar sports complex that was approved for construction over the summer on an adjacent lot in Kings Park. Kenny Henderson, a member of Prospect Sports Partners LLC, said that while he was not against solar power or clean energy, he was certain that a solar farm in that location would deter tenants from doing business with his group.

He said ignoring his concerns would be a detriment to the town, as Prospect Sports is poised to produce more than 400 jobs and generate roughly $38.5 million in annual spending in Smithtown.

“We are really struggling now to keep our head above water,” Henderson said. “We started this dream about six years ago, working side by side with the town to make this a reality. But we are 100 percent uncertain if we can build this now, because nobody wants to come do business behind the solar panels.”

The Smithtown Town Board said it would review the special exception request with those concerns in mind before determining environmental effects.

From left, Supervisor Ed Romaine, Councilwoman Connie Kepert, Councilmen Dan Panico and Neil Foley and town waste management officials Tim Timms, Frank Tassone and Frank Balsamo celebrate removing more than 1,500 illegal signs from town property. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Brookhaven Town announced on Monday that workers had removed more than 1,500 illegally posted signs from rights-of-way and utility poles in the year since the town adopted stricter laws on posting signs.

The town board banned all signs on public property last April in a unanimous move, after Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) introduced the tighter restriction.

Romaine had announced the idea during his 2014 State of the Town address, saying the ban would help clean up the town and bring local laws into step with federal regulations.

The outright ban on signs on town property replaced a rule previously on the books in Chapter 57A of the town code that faced a court challenge from a Mount Sinai business owner, who alleged it favored commercial speech over noncommercial speech. Brookhaven Town adopted its new regulations while that case was working its way through the courts, although the New York State Appellate Court ruled in favor of the town in December. The new code eliminated a requirement to notify violators before an illegal sign is removed.

Romaine and a few other town board members visited the Brookhaven landfill recently to mark the one-year anniversary of the new sign code and celebrate the town’s waste management department removing more than 1,500 illegal signs since the law’s enactment.

Violators of the town sign code face a $250 fine.