East Northport development raises concerns in community

A bucolic plot of land, home to the last working dairy on Long Island, is being downsized, and the proposal to build housing is sparking outrage.

A senior complex with 360 units is proposed for the 37-acre site of the Oak Tree Dairy, located near two schools in East Northport.

But is the soil safe? The piece of land and what developers may do to it is keeping people up at night.

"We quite honestly don't trust them. I don't trust them with our most valuable resource, our children," said Elwood resident Lisa Polese.

Soil samples from the property have showed substantial levels of arsenic and pesticides.

A local developer wants to build a large 55 and over residential complex called the Seasons at Elwood.

People worry about what that may mean for their health and the health of their children, since a middle school and high school are adjacent to the property.

"We don't know anything about how he's going to remediate the area and what's going to do with the toxins we have just discovered," said Elwood resident Loretta Hamann.

"Are we nervous? Yes. Do we have moms who are breast cancer survivors saying to us, what's in the soil? Yes," Polese said.

"It will absolutely be clean, acceptable and at no health risk to anyone," said the developer, Jan Burman of the Engel Burman Group.

Burman says if the plan is approved the company will clean up the toxins at no risk to people's health.

"I absolutely will reassure you it will be better than it is now because right now it has not been remediated. It's an existing condition which we will take care of. We build all over Long Island, other people do too. This is not new science. It's science which is tried, tested and true," Burman said.

But that reassurance may not be enough for people here.

"If it's zoned for 32 houses and you want to put 360 houses in there that's going to disrupt the environment, the traffic and the aesthetics of the community. You know we think it's too much," said Elwood resident Tom Van de Merlen.

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