The Suffolk County Legislature approved three items at Thursday night’s meeting that effectively green-lights plans to raze the Bavarian Inn, but lawmakers are still haggling about what to do with the property once the structure is leveled.
According to Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr., the body approved three certificates of necessity that now officially paves the way for demolition to begin. First, the legislature accepted the State Environmental Quality Review determination that razing the Lake Ronkonkoma building would not negatively impact the environment. Secondly, they approved setting aside $325,000 for demolition costs and thirdly, the bond that accompanies those funds.
Those initiatives, coupled with the DEC permit now approved, allows the county to begin taking the building down as early as the end of this month. According to Legis. Kennedy, the demolition process has hit one snag: the building has tested positive for asbestos, which will require an expert to remove it before bulldozers can knock down the walls.
The Republican lawmaker--whose constituents live around the site and who has been actively seeking to demolish the building since it fell into disrepair--said not only was the toxic material in the ceiling tiles, but was mixed into the wall plaster. The discovery forced the county to hire an outside contractor, which has impacted the overall cost of demolition.
“Even though we originally thought we were going to use county staff to conduct the demolition, once it became apparent that there was asbestos throughout the whole building it became pretty clear that we were going to have to go ahead and engage someone who specializes in hazardous materials,” Kennedy said.
The county has tapped Branch Services of Ronkonkoma to conduct the removal. According to Kennedy an RFP was not required for the job because Branch Services already has an ongoing contract to do spot work for the county as needed.
Once the asbestos is removed and the payloaders clear away the remains of the dilapidated building, the fight will then turn to what the county wishes to do with the property.
On one hand, County Executive Steve Bellone’s office has stated a desire to see the land auctioned off and developed so the county can draw tax revenue from the property. On the other hand, Legis. Kennedy and his constituents want to see the land restored to parkland and blend into the adjoining parks on either side.
For now, that argument is on hiatus, as Legis. Kennedy has agreed, as a compromise, to table Resolution 1252, which would transfer the property to parks. He said the decision to do so was to clear away political distractions from his main objective--getting the building torn down
“One of the skills of a legislator is to be able to zealously advocate on behalf of your constituents and to ultimately achieve desired outcomes,” Kennedy said. “Everybody has said ‘we are long past the time when that building should have come down.’ So my job is to basically achieve as much as I can in the way of a positive and favorable outcome on behalf of my constituents.”
Kennedy added that he believes ultimately the County Executive’s office will reach the same conclusion as his camp: that the land is not viable for commercial development and should be restored to its natural state.