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Rain Shower,52°
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
A post-Sandy tour of the Industrial Park
by Mark Treske

Following Wednesday’s New York Rising meeting, The Leader was invited on a tour of businesses and infrastructure in the village. Leading the tour were Rob Weltner and James Ruoco from Operation Splash, and also in attendance were Nancy Rucks from the New York State Department of State as well as New York city-based consultants Trent Lethco and Vincent Riscia from ARUP and James Lloyd from Urbanomics.

Mr. Lloyd explained that the purpose of the tour was to examine “the condition and vacancy rates of Freeport’s Industrial Park” and make them part of a “plan to be evolved” to deal with the state of the village, not only in terms of storm issues but economic ones. Mr. Riscia, noting larger numbers of vacant buildings in the Industrial Park, suggested that mixed use, business and open space, should be considered, as the cost of making all areas of south Freeport safe in the next storm needs to be taken into account.

Power Plant 2

“One thing we can’t move is the power plant,” one of the consultants observed, and so the first stop was Power Plant Two. With canals on three sides, and wetlands across the canals, the safety of the plant is a serious concern.

Anthony Fiore, Superintendent of Electric Utility, said that the water got within three feet of the curb in front of the office space on the north side of the building. Underneath that area is a tunnel connecting the building with transmission lines; had that tunnel flooded, all communication between the power plant and the outside world would have been lost. Mr. Fiore says that the electric utility has already received $700,000 from FEMA for mitigation of this and other issues, and received most of what it asked for.

Mr. Fiore then turned the tour over to Peter Reinke, a longtime electric utility employee who was at the plant during the storm. He described the southern part of the plant as the most vulnerable. Three tanks, two of which hold fuel oil, are housed in a depression designed to contain leakage a few feet from the water. Sandy caused that depression to fill with three feet of water; the third tank, decommissioned since 1991, actually moved a fraction of an inch on its foundation from the force of the water.

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