Nassau County Department of Public Works 2006 Environmental Bond Act
Posted on June 11, 2015
Client: Nassau County Department of Public Works
- Phase I Environmental Site Assessments of Large Tract Properties
The firm was retained as part of Nassau County’s Environmental Bond Act of 2006 to perform Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) of various properties comprised of larger tracts of land that Nassau County was considering purchasing to maintain as open space. Due to the rapidly growing shortage of undeveloped property in the county, Nassau County passed its Bond Act allowing for the purchase of open tracts of land to prevent the spread of urban development to remaining natural open spaces. However, in order to ensure that it was not purchasing contaminated properties, Nassau County commissioned the performance of Phase I ESAs for each property planned for purchase to allow the review of existing conditions and historical uses of the property to determine if the environmental quality of the property may have been adversely impacted.
As part of the Bond Act, Nassau County identified a total of 30 properties that were relatively undeveloped and available for purchase. The properties consisted of undeveloped back lots of large estates, former farmland, open lots and other properties comprised primarily of open space, where only a few structures may have been present. Based on purchase price and tax incentive negotiations with properties’ existing owners, Nassau County pursued the purchase of a total of 16 of the original 30 properties. These properties include:
- 490 North Central Avenue, Valley Stream (0.7 acres)
- Banfi Vintners, Glen Head (31 acres)
- Cutting Property, Oyster Bay Cove (7 acres)
- Fruggies Farm, East Meadow (2.5 acres)
- Gold Property, Seaford (1 acre)
- Grossman’s Farm, Malverne (5 acres)
- Hall/Wood Wentworth Estate, Muttontown (18.21 acres)
- Held Property, Oyster Bay Cove (7.98 acres)
- Humes Estate, Mill Neck (37.9 acres)
- Old Mill Horse Farm, Jericho (41.09 acres)
- Parkway Drive Properties Lots 109 through 111, Baldwin Harbor (0.17 acre)
- Parkway Drive Properties Lots 115 through 118, Baldwin Harbor (0.22 acre)
- Parkway Drive Properties Lots 126 through 131, Baldwin Harbor (0.26 acre)
- Red Spring Extension, Glen Cove (1.75 acres)
- Schwab Property, Oyster Bay Cove (5.2 acres)
- Trout Lake Property, West Hempstead (3.128 acres)
The above list comprises all of the properties for which Phase I ESAs were performed by the firm. All activities completed during performance of each Phase I ESA were conducted in accordance with the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard Practice E 1572-05.
In order to complete the assessment, historical sources of information were reviewed to identify historical use of the property and neighboring properties, as well as to identify potential areas of concern relative to environmental quality. These sources of information include available historical United States Geologic Survey (USGS) topographic quadrangles, historical aerials photographs for each available decade, available historical local phone directory listings for the site, and available historical fire insurance maps for the property and surrounding areas.
In order to identify current on-site use, areas of potential adverse impact from historical use and current neighboring property use, a site inspection was performed for each property. During the on-site inspection, an individual familiar with the use of the property accompanied the inspection team to answer questions that arose during performance of the inspection. Since the properties comprised large acreage, D&B utilized the current and historical aerial photographs, as well as the historical fire insurance maps, to identify areas on the properties where activities of environmental significance are/were conducted in order to target these areas for investigation during the on-site inspection. In addition, since most of the acreage comprised primarily wooded and vegetated areas, the time of year for performing the site inspection was considered to avoid “limiting conditions” such as fallen leaves, impassible vegetation, snow, leafing, etc. that could potentially limit the observation of the property for identifying areas of potential environmental concern.
A search of current environmental databases maintained by environmental regulatory agencies was performed to determine if the site or neighboring properties within specified search radii from the site were identified. Records for any listed properties were reviewed to determine if the environmental condition of the site could have been compromised. In some cases, regulatory agency representatives were contacted to determine the current status of any listed properties.
A search of local agency files was performed through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) review that requested specific information regarding the site. If any agency indicated that it maintained a file for the property, a representative of the firm visited the agency to review the files in person or a request was made to have the agency send copies of the file to the firm for review. The local agency files requested during this process included those maintained by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the Nassau County Department of Health (NCDH), the Nassau County Fire Marshall and the local building department for the village in which the property was located.
Interviews were conducted with individuals familiar with the history of the property in order to ascertain the past and current uses of the property. Interviews were also conducted with representatives of Nassau County to determine any noteworthy knowledge or commonly known information regarding the property. These interviews were primarily performed in-person but were occasionally performed via telephone.
The findings of the information compiled and reviewed through the previously identified activities were documented in a Phase I ESA report prepared for each property. Any conditions that have or could likely have an impact on the environmental integrity of the property were identified in the conclusions of the report as recognized environmental condition (RECs) and/or out-of-scope considerations. Recommendations for additional activities deemed necessary by the environmental professionals conducting the assessment to further investigate or remediate any of the RECs identified for the property were also included in the report. Lastly, in some instances, Nassau County requested a cost estimate for addressing the recommendations of the report so that those costs could be considered in negotiating the purchase price of the property.
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