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Vallone: Future looking up for S&L Aerospace

Hindered by years of contentious discussions, S&L Aerospace, a College Point company that produces small precision parts for the defense industry, is one step closer to purchasing additional space on a 37-by-350-foot parcel at 29th Avenue, between 120th and 122nd streets.

At a hearing held on Monday, the City Council’s subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions heard the land- use application.

Following testimony from the city’s Economic Development Corp. and S&L Aerospace, which already occupies approximately two-fifths of the overall site and is looking to expand to an L-shaped facility that would cover approximately three-quarters of the total space, the subcommittee unanimously voted it through.

Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said in a statement that the hearing “was a direct result of community involvement leading to government action on behalf of College Point. Until we received the additional agreements and concessions regarding the complete cleanup from all parties, in addition to information about the work that had already been done, this project would not have been approved.”

The full Land Use Committee was scheduled to hear the resolution on Tuesday and is expected to vote the application through unanimously. If approved in committee, the application would then be voted on by the full Council at a hearing, scheduled for July 23.

Vallone said through a spokesperson that he was “very confident” that it will pass the full Council.

The controversy has revolved around a land swap five years ago involving Cofire Paving, an asphalt company, and S&L in the College Point Corporate Park area.

Cofire has been under criticism for years by area residents over what has been described as the company’s spewing of asphalt throughout the area.

The situation has been complicated by the fact that part of the property is owned by the EDC and another part by the city.

If approved, S&L would move into a 10,000-square-foot existing building on the EDC-owned portion of the lot, followed by new construction of a 24,000-square-foot building on the city-owned part of the property, according to Seth Myers, director of project implementation at the EDC.

According to Vallone representative Lionel Morales, Community Board 7 disapproved of the land sale because it was unaware of the soil remediation efforts that had been undertaken by Cofire. Morales suggested that lack of communication between Cofire and the EDC kept the board in the dark.

The spokesperson said that Vallone “would not have supported this sale if he weren’t sure that it was going to be done properly. To ensure College Point would no longer suffer from long-standing broken promises, additional agreements, concessions and remedial action plans were set in place to make sure the cleanup of this site is completed.”

At Monday’s hearing, Myers addressed the community board’s concerns regarding environmental remediation on the site.

According to him, the prior owner of the land, RJR Realty Associates, LLC, a Cofire affiliate, assumed liability for an oil spill on the property by entering an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2007.

Myers added that RJR “has been working in good faith to remediate the spill [and] has made progress.”

The company, he said, has already removed the failed underground fuel tanks, associated piping and the surrounding contaminated soil; removed the free product that had been floating on the water table; disposed of the nearly 1,500 pounds of contamination via soil vapor extraction; and removed over 1.5 million gallons of impacted groundwater.

In a letter to Vallone, dated July 17 and obtained by the Chronicle, RJR said, “It will take 2-3 months to analyze the data, prepare the report and meet with DEC to discuss the results and agree on what additional remediation may be required.”

The company promised to meet with the College Point Corporate Park Task Force on the status of the project and its projected completion date.

The DEC, in another letter to Vallone, dated July 15 and also obtained by the Chronicle, indicated that Cofire has been working “in good faith” to remediate the spill.

The DEC added that “additional groundwater monitoring wells and soil borings will be installed in order to more fully delineate the extent of the contamination. Tri-annual groundwater monitoring will continue.”

Calling companies like S&L “exactly the good neighbors we need in College Point,” Vallone said he looks forward to their long-term commitment and future expansion in the district.

See Queens Chronicle for full story.