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Photocircuits Site - Potential for Development
From Newsday 6/20/07

The owners of the now-defunct Photocircuits plant in Glen Cove are busy reassuring potential buyers and development partners that the 25-acre site is almost clean enough to host a residential or mixed-use project, but state officials say the site is far too contaminated for any such redevelopment.

Next month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will release a plan that could restrict the land's future use and saddle someone with more than $9 million in cleanup costs. A DEC official said the site "has to be fully cleaned up before they can do anything on it."

And officials from the city and Nassau's economic development department are pitching the site - where as many as 4,000 workers manufactured circuit boards for 56 years - to major commercial users. In short, the parties involved in determining the future of the storied site are working at cross-purposes, and no one is ready to pick up the tab. DEC officials say the site is heavily contaminated. In a draft remediation plan, the agency calls for long-term soil and groundwater testing, a site management plan to involve continued evaluation, and - most distressing to potential landowners - a restriction that would require "limiting the use and development of the property to commercial/industrial."

Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi said that, contamination issues aside, a zoning change to permit residential or mixed-use development isn't in the cards. "Everyone wants residential because it drives the most dollars, but we're trying to create jobs in Glen Cove," he said, adding one proposal under discussion could bring 1,000 jobs.

And while acting Photocircuits president Michael Nussbaum said that all redevelopment options remain on the table, a June 4 court filing by the company's lawyers says, "It is reasonably expected that all remediation efforts will continue in order to be able to complete the redevelopment of that land into residential use, since the real property as well as the liability for environmental issues remain held by GCP."

GCP Llc is the land-owning affiliate of Photocircuits' parent, San Bernardino, Calif.-based American Pacific Financial Corp., which bought Photocircuits out of bankruptcy last year. At the time, the investor painted a rosy picture of Photocircuits' future, but in March, when the plant was shuttered, employees said the new owners had not reinvested in the company.

This month, Nussbaum objected to the DEC's findings. He said there were two small contaminated areas - one a step away from being certified as clean, the other being remediated with an existing $400,000 fund. But in May 2006, the DEC estimated cleanup costs at more than $9 million, according to the filing. Nussbaum said he had "no idea why the word residential is in" the filing, that he was "blindsided" by the DEC's remediation plan, and that he had not heard about the $9-million estimate. "There were no environmental issues in the 50-year history of Photocircuits," he said. "The whole environmental issue has never been an issue."

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