WADING RIVER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A battle is brewing over some incredible land on the Long Island Sound.
Decades ago, it was supposed to be a nuclear power plant, but that never opened. Now, it’s just sitting there, and some want to make it a state park.
“It’s just sitting there, like an eyesore,” one man said.
The Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant was decommissioned two and a half decades ago. The $6 billion white elephant rising above the marshland sits on 700 acres of some of the most pristine property on the East Coast, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports.
“I know there are some ideas circulating about the local land here,” a Wading River resident said.
Among the ideas are installing wind turbines offshore, dredging and developing a deep water port for ships, or razing the forest and installing hundreds of solar panels, like the solar farm in nearby Calverton.
“Everybody supports solar, but you don’t cut down trees in order to have solar. That’s like saying we need to destroy the environment in order to save it. It’s just stupid,” Richard Amper, of the Pine Barrens Association, said.
The Pine Barrens Association favors installing solar panels on existing buildings or cleared land.
On Tuesday, the group hosted a walking and bus tour through the woodlands and invited local leaders from both sides of the aisle to see what’s at stake.
“If this is able to be preserved, it would complete a north-south greenbelt right through the middle of our largest town,” a tour guide said.
The latest proposal is to partner private and public funds to preserve the land, creating the newest state park in New York.
Some on the tour Tuesday said preserving the Shoreham Wading River Forest would also protect the aquifer and underground water supplies, McLogan reported. The acreage has existed as a critical habitat for endangered bird and animal species.
“To make one big, great, giant, preserved state park,” Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner said of the ambitious goal.
“I think we would hate ourselves if we didn’t make this fight,” Sid Bail, of the Wading River Civic Association, added.
Both National Grid and PSE&G would have to sign off on the state park plan for it to be considered feasible.