After more than a year's delay, officials announced Tuesday that demolition of up to 15 abandoned buildings at Nissequogue River State Park is slated to begin in the spring.
The state is releasing up to $15 million to raze the buildings, which were part of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center, state Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said in a letter State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) received Tuesday.
Demolition of the buildings, originally set for the fall of 2010, has been held up by the state budget crisis. Local lawmakers and community leaders had lobbied state officials to release funds set aside in 2006 to level the structures.
"It's going to take down buildings that are in very negative, bad shape, and hopefully it will create some local jobs," Flanagan said.
Removing the buildings, many polluted with asbestos, could be the first step in a longtime plan to develop the park for expanded public use.
"We've been waiting several years for the cleanup to finally begin, so this is good news," said Michael Rosato, chairman of the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation, a community group developing plans for future uses of the park. "This is a great first step in what we hope will be a complete remediation of the park over the next 10 years."
The 500-acre park overlooking the Long Island Sound is dotted with dozens of buildings that were used as clinics, dormitories for patients and staff, and support facilities. The hospital closed in 1996, and a portion of the property became a state park in 2000, with additional acreage added in 2006.
The structures to be razed include a smokestack and other buildings near an abandoned power plant, state parks department officials said. The state is expected to launch public bidding next month to select a private firm to do the work. The winning bid is expected to be announced in March, with demolition to begin in May.
"I think it's a good start to at least start cleaning up the derelict buildings," town Councilman Edward Wehrheim said. "I think they're the worst of the worst down there."
In a statement, Harvey said demolition and site restoration will take a year to complete.
"Removal of these deteriorated and unneeded buildings will represent real progress at the Kings Park site," Harvey said.
State lawmakers and community leaders envision rehabilitating and finding new uses for some of the park's other dormant buildings. A proposed master plan on the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation website calls for adding theaters, restaurants, a hotel and conference center.
Published: October 18, 2011 10:12 PM
By CARL MACGOWAN firstname.lastname@example.org