The final phase of cleanup at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood is expected to soon commence as the Town of Islip set a Dec. 22 deadline for bids to backfill an area of the park where contaminated fill was removed last summer.
On Tuesday, town officials, including Parks Commissioner Tom Owens and the town engineer, accompanied 15 local contractors on a two-hour tour of a 3.5-acre section in the northwest corner of the park where soccer fields once stood, Owens said.
To date, more than 40,000 tons of contaminated construction and demolition debris have been removed from the park, from the soccer fields and also from a southern area of the park referred to as the recharge basin.
Four of six men indicted in December 2014 in a Suffolk dumping scheme at four locations pleaded guilty to illegal dumping for their roles at Roberto Clemente Park. Thomas Datre Jr., Christopher Grabe, former Islip Town Parks Commissioner Joseph J. Montuori Jr. and Brett A. Robinson have all agreed as part of their pleas to help in the rehabilitation of the park.
Datre Jr. and Grabe have yet to be sentenced for facilitating the dumping at the park and at a private 1-acre lot on Islip Avenue in Central Islip, while Montuori Jr. and Robinson have received conditional discharges for allowing the dumping to happen at Clemente Park.
A fifth defendant, Ronald Cianciulli, of Atlas Asphalt, was found guilty for helping Datre Jr. dump at a state-protected wetlands area in Deer Park. He has offered to help in that cleanup — which is still not complete — and has not yet been sentenced. Charges against Datre Jr.’s father, Thomas Datre Sr., were dropped when his son pleaded guilty.
Owens estimated about 20,000 to 30,000 tons of “clean, certified fill” — which will be required to have state Department of Environmental Conservation approval — will be needed to bring the soccer fields back up to its original grade. The fields will then be reseeded, Owens said.
The second phase of the restoration project, which will start after the backfill project is complete, will require another request for proposal for a consultant to help design and implement park features such as playground, parking lot upgrades and drainage hookups, Owens said.
Bids will also go out for work related to the pool and spray park, amenities that Town officials said they hope to have open by summer 2018.
Brentwood resident Herbie Medina, founder of Uplift Brentwood, a newly organized community group, has held several rallies outside the locked gates of the park since the summer to call on town officials to speed up the reopening of the park. Clemente is the largest public recreation space in the hamlet, and Medina said he hopes the bidding deadline is a sign that progress will continue.
“I’m happy that they’re starting to move along now, and starting to make it a little more promising for us,” Medina said in a phone interview. “We hope that the town will open up the community involvement process. There are a lot of passionate people in Brentwood who care about this park and it would be great for them to give input and help design it.”
Owens addressed public concerns over the timeline of the project at the town board meeting and said: “I want the public to know at no point has this project stalled. We are diligently moving through the process and excited to bring this park back to our residents in the Town of Islip.”