MGP Site Far From Done Deal
While it may appear that remediation is all but wrapped up at the former MGP site along Beach Channel Drive in Rockaway Park, the project’s official completion is being delayed thanks to a small piece of land bordering the bay directly across the street.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation owns a bulkhead across the street near Wainwright Court (the Rockaway Freeway turn) which is a deteriorated steel wall that prevents, in part, the bay from rising onto Beach Channel Drive. The project’s remediation plans have primarily been focused on the MGP site, but that small portion of land is also included in the project and the project cannot be considered completed until it’s remediated as well. However, in order for the remediation to take place the bulkhead must first be replaced in conjunction with a new barrier wall that will prevent migration of the harmful contaminants into Jamaica Bay in the future.
According to National Grid, two major documents must be submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). The first document is the Construction Completion Report, which details how the project was undertaken and how it meets the requirements of the NYSDEC-approved Remedial Design Report. The second document is a Site Management Plan which includes details of future maintenance and monitoring activities as well as the processes for managing any environmental conditions remaining at the site. Once the remaining bulkhead work is completed, National Grid will also complete a Final Engineering Report, which will document the bulkhead work and include the Construction Completion Report for the main site. National Grid will prepare and submit to NYSDEC the Construction Completion Report and Site Management Plan by late 2012.
It is at that time, National Grid says, that the utility company will begin considering re-use and redevelopment options for the site. The final engineering report is critical, however, to actually close the book on the remediation project and give the green light to physically develop the site.
But first the funding must be provided by the city before the bulkhead is replaced. The person partially responsible for that is Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who’s uncertain about when the 1,065-foot long steel bulkhead will be funded. Therefore, there is no timetable for the final engineering report.
“Someone has to fix the bulkhead there,” Ulrich said. “National Grid and the city have a responsibility to work together to make sure the remediation is completed at the site so it can be developed in the near future for the community’s use.”
But according to Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, the bulkhead is at least a year away from being repaired even if funding is included for its repair in the upcoming fiscal year budget, which should be announced in the coming weeks. Many on the board and in the community would like to see something that benefits the entire area, whether it’s a commercial or recreational space.
“This is holding up the whole project from being completed,” Gaska said. “The utility [National Grid] will not talk to us about plans for the site until they get a certificate of completion.”
National Grid described the situation as complex in an e-mail to The Wave this week.
“The only [portion of the project] not yet completed is a barrier wall adjacent to the current City of New York bulkhead,” National Grid spokesperson Karen Young said. “The City’s bulkhead must be replaced in conjunction with the installation of the barrier wall. The City and National Grid are working together to develop an appropriate solution for this complex problem.”
No one knows when that appropriate solution will actually be worked out between the parties. And until then, nothing will become of the site in the near future, even if plans are being talked about by the company. As a utility company there is a regulatory process National Grid must abide by with the Public Service Commission before a decision about the land can be made.
“National Grid will evaluate development options for the site once it evaluates potential utility needs,” Young added. “National Grid has an obligation to the Public Service Commission to offset the costs to our customers associated with the remediation through the use of the site for utility purposes or redevelopment.”
Basically that means the site may be sold to offset the costs of the remediation if the price is right for a developer, or National Grid can also keep the land for their own infrastructure needs.