Schiavoni Building Demolished As Remediation Begins in Sag Harbor

Posted on 02 October 2008

Early Tuesday morning, Diane Schiavoni stood alone with a cup of steaming coffee waiting for National Grid employees to demolish the Long Island Avenue, Sag Harbor building she and her husband Gabe have owned for some 30 years.

“I just felt like someone should be here for this,”

said Schiavoni, whose husband was away Tuesday. As the morning progressed, and little, save preparations for the demolition began, Schiavoni left the site, returning after National Grid employees informed her they would begin the demolition phase soon.

As chain saws blared in the background, removing a fence and street signs, and a bulldozer began crashing into the middle of the building, removing pieces of debris in a slow, methodical fashion, Schiavoni admitted it was all a little anti-climatic, but nonetheless difficult.

The Schiavoni’

s have leased the commercial building to National Grid, formerly KeySpan, which this week began the process of cleaning up the former manufactured gas plant and Superfund site in Sag Harbor. The demolition of the Schiavoni building, the closure of a portion of Bridge Street and the creation of a staging area in a public lot behind the post office is just the beginning of what is expected to be a nine-month long remediation of coal tar from the site.

Tuesday’s demolition is the culmination of almost four-years of negotiations between the Schiavonis and National Grid. The Schiavonis cannot divulge the contents of their agreement with National Grid, although they have confirmed the utility will lease the property from them during the cleanup, and have an option to lease for as long as three years. Once the cleanup is complete, the Schiavoni’

s will retain ownership of the property, and plan on rebuilding.

But despite the promise of a new building, what was difficult for Diane on Tuesday morning was remembering the tenants with whom she and Gabe had longstanding relationships –

tenants that had to vacate the premises, likely not to return.

By Wednesday morning, a majority of the building was gone, save a few remnants of the one-story structure. Now National Grid will embark on an ambitious cleanup plan and schedule in order to remediate the site, under a mandate by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The NYSDEC selected the form of remediation two years ago, although last year village officials put a halt to a planned fall 2007 start date in order to ensure aspects of the plan – namely the pumping of some million gallons of fresh, treated water daily into the waters off Sag Harbor, and truck traffic –

would not have a negative effect on the village or water ecology in the area.

In August, after a year of study, village officials said they were comfortable with the cleanup plan. The project calls for the removal of coal tar, a byproduct of manufacturing gas on the site, which occurred from 1859 through 1931 when gas production ceased. The remediation plan involves the removal of 10 to 15 feet of soil throughout the site. Due to the high water table in the area, water will have to be removed from the soil, treated and pumped clean through a pipe that will traverse the bottom of Sag Harbor Cove and Sag Harbor Bay. The water will dispense just past the breakwater near North Haven and it is expected the project will generate between 500,000 and a million gallons of clean, treated water daily during the nine-month process.

The fill, in the meantime, will be trucked to a DEC approved landfill. No more than 20 trucks a day are expected during the height of the excavation, according to DEC officials.

National Grid has promised village officials and members of the community regular updates on the cleanup process as it moves forward. For more information, visit



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