Toxic dumping hits home for Brentwood children
Another tangible effect of the Islip dumping scandal is hitting home for Brentwood residents -- in particular, their children.
Instead of playing at Roberto Clemente Park this summer, kids will have to board a bus to enjoy programs in other parts of town.
That's making some Brentwood residents angry, as it should.
As Robyn McLeod told town board members Tuesday: "I left Brooklyn to give my children a better life. I thought this was going to be a better place for my children to be brought up in."
Earlier, she told a Newsday reporter that her sons, now teenagers, had been regulars at the park.
Long Island has some of the best public parkland in the nation, from beaches to pocket parks. In Islip, as in other municipalities, parks likely rank just below policing and roadways as the most important government services.
At Roberto Clemente Park, illegal dumping has left the soil tainted with asbestos and other hazardous materials.
According to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, it likely will take more than one summer to safely clear out the toxic material.
When will the park be safe for the community's children again? Even Islip Town officials, who are readying a remediation plan, won't be able to say for certain until they hear back from environmental and other officials.
Meanwhile, Spota's criminal investigation into the dumping goes on. And the town has vowed to pursue the parties responsible for the dumping to reimburse Islip for what likely will be an expensive cleanup.
And what about the children? On Tuesday, the town board passed a resolution to launch a slate of special summer programs for local children, including extending summer hours at the Brentwood Recreation Center and day camp and providing free daily breakfast at Brentwood West Middle School.
That's in addition to the town's earlier offer of free transportation to other Islip parks and pools and a 50 percent discount on daily pool fees for Brentwood residents.
With summer already here, Islip's provided what probably is the best temporary fix possible.
But it's no long-term solution for residents used to having their own park.
Brentwood residents pay high taxes, and like other Long Islanders, deserve the suburban services they pay for.
On Tuesday, a group of residents hammered that home by using the grounds near town hall as a park, laying down beach blankets and coolers outside before the town board met inside.
The message was clear: All residents want is their neighborhood park back. And for the kids' sake, especially, that needs to happen as quickly as possible.