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NE Queens residents worry about iPark complex

Northeast Queens communities are concerned that if iPark fills the old Lockheed Martin complex just over the Queens border in Nassau County with businesses, they could be overrun by traffic.

The residents of Glen Oaks and Floral Park across the street from the complex are glad the area is to be built up, but fear the new businesses on the site at 1111 Marcus Ave. — about 1.3 million square feet of office space in three buildings — might affect traffic and their quality of life.

“More power to them for finally fixing up the area. It has been vacant for a long time and an eyesore.” said Richard Hellenbrecht, chairman of Community Board 13. “The problem in the long run is the environment and the contamination in areas on the property that might leech into the water.”

Hellenbrecht said plans for a 126,000-square-foot New York Times distribution plant in the complex would not have a bad effect and might add some jobs for Queens residents, but he said he has not talked to the communities in the area to get their views on the site.

The remaining square footage could pose a problem for the area, he said, but “the impact on the stores along Union Turnpike could be positive and a boon for the businesses like the diner on the corner of Union Turnpike.”

As for the increased traffic flow through the area caused by the added businesses, he said the site’s proximity to the Long Island Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway should prevent major congestion.

The site, which sits between the Long Island towns of North Hempstead and Lake Success, is owned by iPark Holdings, which in turn is jointly owned by the Greenwich, Conn.-based National RE/sources and the Manhattan-based Apollo Real Estate Company.

The 94-acre site, which was once home to aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, Sperry, and Unisys, was bought by iPark in April 2000. The company has been advertising iPark’s availability as a perfect place for the technology industry.

Judy White, a spokeswoman for iPark, said that because of widespread dot-com failures, iPark has recently shifted its focus and wants to make the site a “front office, high-tech park.”

Mike Castellano, vice president of the Lost Community Civic Association, said he was less concerned when the iPark was talking about a high-tech complex, but with The New York Times opening a distribution center it will increase the truck traffic.

“Union Turnpike is a disaster because of construction on the LIE and our streets are overflowing with parked cars,” he said.

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said he and many of his constituents were concerned about the underground contamination caused by Sperry and the other companies that used the site before Lockheed Martin acquired Sperry.

Mark Lowery, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said Lockheed Martin is responsible for the cleanup, under the supervision of the DEC, because the company had owned the property. He said the owner or previous owners can be held responsible and Lockheed Martin was willing to pay for the cleanup.

If a company refuses to pay for the cleanup, the DEC will undertake the project and then go to court to recover the funds at a rate of three times the cost.

The company is responsible for finding out what type and amount of chemical caused the contamination and its location, he said.

The chemicals that were found to contaminate the soil and water are perchloroethylene, or PERC, which is used by dry cleaners and metal workers as a degreaser as well as another chemical that is formed when PERC breaks down.

Lowery said the removal of the chemicals will take between 20 and 30 years.

Dan Andrews, spokesman for Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, said that no one had come to her office to discuss the move to the iPark complex. He said The New York Times never discussed its expansion with them and Shulman’s office could have found space for the company in Queens.

“We are very happy with the [existing] Times plant in College Point,” he said.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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