The following excerpt is from an article by Lon Cohen that was published by Greater Port Jeff on January 1, 2020. Richard Murdocco of The Foggiest Idea was quoted throughout. You can read the entire piece here.
An electrified rail line might create more demand for housing in the area immediately around the LIRR station, both north and south of the tracks. This is important to the revitalization efforts currently underway in Upper Port Jefferson, sometimes called Uptown Funk.
Richard Murdocco is a public policy and planning expert who teaches in the public policy graduate program at Stony Brook University. From his perspective, an MTA yard would be a more appropriate use for the Lawrence site than any other option, like housing or mixed-use retail.
“The reality is that a former Superfund site doesn’t offer much flexibility in terms of options for redevelopment,” Murdocco said, adding that the MTA has needed a new yard at the terminus of the LIRR’s Port Jefferson branch for years.
“Electrification brings additional trains and passenger demand, both of which a new yard will help properly support. Given the limited areas for an unpopular use like a rail yard in Port Jefferson, Lawrence Aviation isn’t the worst idea.”
An MTA spokesperson said that a Port Jefferson branch modernization study is underway.
“We are looking at infrastructure improvements required to improve service,” the spokesperson said in an email.
The infrastructure improvements they are studying include electrification and potential yard sites, one of which is the Lawrence Aviation property.
The EPA said that land use is generally a local decision and does not dictate how remediated properties should be redeveloped, although that is a consideration for the end game.
“EPA factors redevelopment plans into our work at Superfund sites as cleanups progress,” the representative said when asked about possible uses for the site including a rail yard. “Any future development must be consistent with the cleanup and the protection of human health and the environment. “
With its toxic history, Murdocco thinks not much else can be done with the property.
“It’s really either something like that, or protected open space — but that doesn’t solve the issue of where to put a new rail yard,” he said.