The highly anticipated test results for the open space fill area at 52 N. Broadway, the former Good Counsel campus, have been received by White Plains City Hall, and are posted on the city’s website.
The analysis, prepared by Hauppauge, LI-based VHB, is based on 14 samples taken from 11 borings at the site from late November to early December 2018.
The history of toxicity at the former Good Counsel athletic field dates back to a period between 2004 and 2006 when backfill containing construction and demolition debris was deposited on the site. Upon inspection by the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), it was determined that semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) were present in the fill materials at concentrations exceeding the NYSDEC objectives. Further backfill added to the site, meant to alleviate the problem, instead, indicated similar readings, causing the NYSDEC required that a geomembrane be installed above the imported materials, followed by a soil cap and vegetated cover to prevent direct contact with the fill material and to prevent the infiltration of groundwater. A deed restriction was placed on the property in 2005 to identify the boundaries of the backfilled area, prevent disturbance of the geomembrane, maintain the site cap and restrict use of the area to open space.
The NYSDEC further stipulated that they be notified of any disturbance of the backfilled area and that any proposed change of use of the backfilled area be reviewed and approved by the NYSDEC.
The report dated Jan. 8, 2019, to White Plains Commissioner of Building, Damon Amadio, suggests “the existing backfill material is not considered satisfactory and it may be necessary for same to be removed from each applicable building footprint (referring to proposed residential development of the site). Regardless of environmental impacts and the eventual plan for addressing the removal and/or capping of environmentally impaired soils, the generation and disposal of surplus soils should also be considered. VHB anticipates that surplus soils will likely be generated due to the proposed site redevelopment activities, and there is a potential that geotechnical specifications will require additional excavation/removal of the backfill. Off-site disposal of surplus soils should be considered due the impairments detected.”
The report further explains: “Additional investigation activities were conducted in 2012 to evaluate the fill area in association with a potential redevelopment. The soil sampling activities identified exceedances of SVOCs consistent with previous investigations, and identified petroleum compounds, chlorinated solvents and methane in soil gas beneath the geomembrane. The results were provided to the NYSDEC; however, the potential redevelopment was not further pursued at that time.”
At the same time VHB was taking samples for the White Plains independent study, AKRF, the environmental engineering firm representing the new owners of 52 N. Broadway, also took samples. The VHB report confirms the AKRF activity.
In a letter to Mayor Tom Roach and the Common Council, Bill Null, attorney for the developer asked for the Public Hearing on the site to be closed at the Feb. 4 Council meeting, citing that the VHB report confirms the developer’s determination that the project can move forward.