Regarding the delayed development of the former Elmhurst Gas Tanks site, the community’s worst nightmare may just come to fruition. Information has surfaced that Keyspan is proceeding with negotiations with the developer, Mattone Group & Starwood Ceruzzi (MGSC), for the construction of a Home Depot. In addition to the big box giant, a storage business would also operate from the site on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the structure.

The Home Depot would take up about 90,000 square feet; about 1/3 smaller than most of their stores. Keyspan had agreed to wait until December 31, 2003 to give elected officials time to offer alternative development plans that included a park or a senior assisted living residential complex. However if either of those two plans were funded, Keyspan would be required to spend considerable money to clean contaminants from the soil. It appears Keyspan is looking to rid themselves of any responsibility for future cleanup cost. Toxins include lead contaminated soil and gas condensate found inside of pipes 4 feet underground remains, as over 3,000 linear feet of pipe exists throughout the site.

The Juniper Park Civic Association will request both soil tests for lead and blood tests for residents living near the site.“Before Keyspan washes their hands of the problem we want to make sure that they are held responsible for any damage done to the community,” said Bob Holden.

By secretly continuing negotiations with the developer even though the sale was on hold, Keyspan was not acting in good faith. Also by not cleaning toxins from the property to residential standards, Keyspan was not truthful when they told the community they were considering all options and proposals for the site, including residential.

This issue will be discussed at the September 18th Town Meeting at Our Lady of Hope Auditorium.