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Cleanup To Begin At Old Theatre Site – QNS.com

Cleanup To Begin At Old Theatre Site

An environmental cleanup project is slated to begin immediately to detoxify the former site of Cineplex Odeon Cinema 5 and the adjacent shopping complex on the westbound side of the Long Island Expressway in Fresh Meadows.
The multiplex, originally built in 1984, housed five theatres and was independently owned until it was sold to the Cineplex company and renovated a few years later.
Plans to tear down the building at 183-15 Horace Harding Expressway, and the surrounding properties began last year and the demolition work started just a few weeks ago.
EEA Inc., a consulting firm with offices in Long Island and Manhattan, New Jersey and upstate, prepared the building application for the owners, Whitestone Realty. A study and testing of the grounds, performed voluntarily by a company contracted by the property owners, revealed contamination due to dry cleaning chemicals and possible gasoline toxins from the nearby Citgo gas station. The commercial strip housed a dry cleaning business for almost 17 years.
Residents and community leaders are relieved the project is underway. The previously vacant property was slowly becoming a problem for surrounding neighborhood residents.
“The community was very upset,” said Community Board 11 district manager Susan Seinfeld. “There were a lot of problems with kids getting into the building.”
While community members like Cindy Lemi are happy the problem is being corrected, they’re worried about the future of the land.
“I am happy that something is being done there,” said Lemi. “I just hope the owners choose to develop the property without causing more problems for the community.”
Whitestone Realty has yet to release the plans for site.
Although the project is part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Brownfield Program, the cleanup was done on a voluntary basis and did not qualify for government funding under the Brownfields Opportunity Areas Act, which is aimed at benefitting economically dormant areas.
Additionally, the owners are not required to answer to the state concerning the project.
The cleanup is expected to last through the summer.
Cinema 5 was a staple in the community for two decades, well-known for its murals painted on the walls of stars like Judy Garland and Charlie Chaplin.
In more recent years the theatre had problems competing with the much-larger Cineplex Odeon just down the block and was forced to close.
melissa@queenscourier.com

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