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Seniors worried about toxic Trump cleanup

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Seniors fighting the plan to replace Trump Village Shopping Center with a massive apartment tower are worried the project could move forward over their dead bodies.

At a meeting about the removal of the contaminated soil beneath the site, one resident expressed fear that stirring up the toxins could drive the opposition underground — literally.

“The harder it gets for us, the easier it gets for him — we’ll just decease faster,” said Rose Alder, a longtime Trump Village resident. “One way or another, a lot of lives will be shortened — and that is good for the developer.”

National Grid — which acquired the company that used to operate a manufactured gas plant at the site — held a meeting at Trump Village Section Four on Feb. 23 to explain its plans for the cleanup of the soil, which is contaminated with coal tar and other chemicals, including mercury and cyanide.

The site was the former Dangman Manufactured Gas plant and it operated from the 1880s to around 1918. Like many of the hundreds of former manufactured gas plants throughout the city, the site has been contaminated for decades, but the toxins were contained by the parking lot and the shopping center, which serve as a protective barrier.

But a representative from National Grid said the contaminated soil will have to be carted away if the developer rips up the pavement and excavates the site, which will be necessary to construct the foundations for the planned 40-story residential tower.

“This area of New York, you’re covered with asphalt and buildings, so no one comes into contact with that material,” said Andrew Prophete, the project manager for National Grid. “If not for the development, it is completely safe, you wouldn’t have to do anything.”

The Department of Environmental Conservation, which will oversee National Grid’s cleanup, assured residents at a public meeting in Brighton Beach earlier this month that the cleanup process will be smelly but safe, and won’t pose a threat to residents. But locals and elected officials have expressed concerns about the potential for hidden health threats, especially to senior citizens who may be particularly vulnerable to these toxins.

Local zoning allows owner Rubin Schron to construct the planned tower as of right, so opponents have little hope of blocking the project, but one resident said she wished he would be satisfied simply sprucing up the shopping center without demolishing it to build the tower, which would eliminate the need for the cleanup.

“A positive change would be a nice improved shopping center that everyone needs,” said Andrea Bobrow, who added that the developer is trying to make a quick buck regardless of the impact on residents. “It is all because he wants to get richer at the expense of many.”

Alder said the developer is ignoring the opposition to the project because he’s banking, quite literally, on the fact that time is on his side.

“In five, six years, all the complainers will be gone. What does he care?” she said.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
Updated 5:40 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reader feedback

larry from luna says:
The reality is that living in brooklyn is very hard for elderley. Only strong can survive the extreme weather and unforgiving capitalist enviorment. The seniors who have successful children should revaluate thier options.I visit family at warbasse and will miss parking lot there willmbe no street parking for miles.city must create municipal parking somewhere.Isnt 40 stories unbelievable height .
Feb. 27, 2015, 7:53 am
Bruce from Coney Island says:
Schron is old too, maybe he dies and takes the project with him. Hey, he don't care about my life, why should I care about his??
Feb. 28, 2015, 9:52 pm
Eddie from Coney Island says:
Not sure why you would want someone to die Bruce from Coney Island. It is just a building.

larry from luna. Are you a socialist? Thank God America is capitalistic and has freedom of speech so that you can be a socialist. Maybe the elderly should use capitalism to their advantage and sell their coops at a high price. Then they could move to Queens or Staten Island or Long Island or New Jersey where there is less capitalism and less extreme weather. Don't know how the old folks survive in Boston or Minneapolis. Maybe there aren't any.
March 4, 2015, 4:47 pm
Tim from Coney says:
This isn't about being for or against capitalism. It is about fundamental fairness and doing the right thing. Shron's rights aren't unlimited and the community does have the right to breath clean air and not be overly saturated. There is so much empty space even further out in Coney Island that to knock down and build this building in this spot is ludicrous. Also, who will buy apartments there? Are you so sure it will be a success?
March 5, 2015, 12:50 am
Boris from Coney Island says:
Hey Eddie from Coney Island, it's not just a building like any other. It is to be built on top of a toxic dump on an already congested corner, Eddie, would YOU like your family to be exposed to coal tar, cyanide, and other toxins? Would YOU like your mother to have to walk past the excavations for months on end just to buy a carton of milk? YOU can be a real big man when YOUR family aren't the ones who are being put at risk. Easy for YOU to say the elderly should move out of their homes for the past 50 years and move to Staten Island, Queens, or New Jersey. Maybe Ruby Schron shoukd come to YOUR street and ruin YOUR life Eddie.
March 11, 2015, 9:44 pm

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