Islip Democrats seek probe of ballfields project

Islip Town Councilman Steven J. Flotteron walks across Islip Town Councilman Steven J. Flotteron walks across one of the new Little League fields under construction on Eastview Drive in Central Islip. (May 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

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The Democratic candidates for Islip town council called for an investigation Thursday into a baseball fields project tied to a $45 million development in Central Islip that's being pushed by a Republican opponent.

Ken Mangan and Dafny Irizarry asked Suffolk County officials to examine the $2 million Little League fields project, which Yaphank-based developer Andy Borgia has agreed to build in exchange for the right to construct a sports complex at the site of the current fields.

The ballfields project has not been continuously bonded and has faced questions about construction quality and campaign contributions by the developer, which Mangan and Irizarry, in a statement, said "shakes the public trust."

Republican Councilman Steven J. Flotteron has pushed the plan to build the fields and the Ultimate Game Sports Complex, for which Borgia signed a lease with the town in 2011. Borgia recently began negotiating to buy the 34-acre site for $3.5 million.

Flotteron, who is seeking re-election, declined to answer questions Thursday but issued a statement: "The Democrats entered in this contract and lease with Mr. Borgia before we took control of the town board. . . . We are doing the best to get this project completed properly."

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County said she could not comment; a spokesman for the district attorney did not respond.

The Democrats also called for Flotteron to return $2,000 in donations from Borgia.

Borgia, who is a registered Democrat, denied the contribution influenced the deal. "This was approved by three Democrats and two Republicans in 2011, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who all give political contributions to worthy candidates who do good for the community."

Mangan said he was outraged. "They're children [who would use the fields] . . . to put even the slightest question toward their safety and causing them harm in any way -- it's outlandish, it's egregious. Somebody needs to be held accountable."

Amid criticism, Borgia this week paid the town $125,000 in escrow in lieu of a new bond for the fields.

John C. Cochrane Jr., who said Wednesday he was unsure if the escrow was adequate and said Flotteron had "put the fear of God in everyone in Planning to get this through," Thursday reversed course.

Cochrane, a Republican, said he spoke with planning officials and they "broke it down line item by line item. Everything now is in place, and I feel very satisfied now. The planning department has done a very thorough job."

Rich Zapolski, a deputy planning commissioner, said he gave Cochrane details on the project more than a week ago and they met Wednesday and "discussed that same information."

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