Debris dumping described at site of homes for veterans

Land Water Environmental Services work on removing dirt Land Water Environmental Services work on removing dirt for collecting samples in front of homes at Motor Parkway and Veterans Way Frida in Hauppauge on May 16, 2014. Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Eyewitnesses have told detectives of seeing lime-green Datre trucks arriving at a 40-foot-deep hole at the construction site of a six-home veterans development in Islandia and watching construction and demolition debris being dumped, sources say.

Photos of the site under construction last year have been handed to investigators, who will use computer mapping, satellite images and aerial photos to determine the pre-existing topography of the 31/2-acre subdivision built by the charitable arm of the Long Island Builders Institute, people close to the criminal probe say.

Today the site where the hole lay is a finished, landscaped mound with trees and shrubs planted throughout, which rises to about 8 feet above the original grade.

The site is one of at least five locations in Islip Town that investigators are looking at in connection with the illegal-dumping inquiry that the Suffolk district attorney launched last month.

 

Investigators at site

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For more than four hours Friday, investigators from the Suffolk County district attorney's office, the state conservation department's bureau of environmental crimes, and Enviroscience Consultants were at the development, taking samples to be tested for contaminants.

Staff from Enviroscience Consultants used ground-penetrating radar to provide a profile of soil conditions below surface. Another machine took 20 subsurface boring samples to be analyzed for contaminants such as heavy metals, PCBs, petroleum products and asbestos.

Six samples were taken at the location where a satellite image shot while the site was under construction depicts an excavated trench measuring roughly 80 feet in length and 20 feet in width.

Investigators also took a sample at the front and back of each of the six houses, and two other samples from an area considered untouched by the construction to provide background comparisons to the other test results.

Asbestos-containing materials have not been found on the surface at the residential cul-de-sac known as Veterans Way, however, full analysis of the samples will take two to three weeks, said Enviroscience president Glenn Neuschwender. Asbestos has been found in debris at three other Islip sites under investigation.

 

Vets had moved in

The veterans and their families moved into the houses in December. The development was built by a program created by the Long Island Home Builders Care Development Corp., a charity run by LIBI. Until recently, the charity's head was Thomas Datre Sr., father of Thomas Datre Jr. The LIBI board suspended Tom Datre Sr. and his wife, Clara Datre, from their posts at the building industry lobby group Monday in the wake of the criminal probe.

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On May 6, investigators executed a search warrant at the Ronkonkoma corporate offices of "Datre/Daytree" companies, which Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota has said was related to the criminal probe into illegal dumping at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood.

Kevin Kearon, an attorney for Tom Datre Jr., said earlier this week that his firm DFF Farm Corp. dumped "permissible" fill at the Islip Town park.

Yesterday, Islip Town Board member Anthony Senft said accusations the town was "asleep at the switch" are "inaccurate." The town had relied on experts within the parks department and at the DEC -- which gave an area of the park a clean bill of health in late January, he said.

Investigators were led to the veterans subdivision site after learning companies associated with Datre were involved in the project, sources have said.

Clara Datre, a one-time GOP candidate for Islip town supervisor, Islip Town Board members, Suffolk legislators, veterans groups and a representative of Rep. Tim Bishop's office watched last May as Islandia Mayor Allan Dorman and Tom Datre Sr. joined in wielding a shovel at the site's groundbreaking.

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"There has never been anything like this to my knowledge," Datre said at the time. "We are providing much-needed housing for those who bravely served our country -- and their families -- in a community where all the neighbors will be veterans."

In an interview this week, Tom Datre Sr. said residents "have my word" fill going to the site was clean.

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