Islip Town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia to leave post to oversee toxic waste cleanup at Roberto Clemente Park

Inez Birbiglia, right, Communications and Media Relations director Inez Birbiglia, right, Communications and Media Relations director at Town of Islip, goes through a mock screening with US Customs and Border Patrol agents at Islip MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma on Feb. 6, 2014. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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Inez Birbiglia, Islip Town's director of communications, is moving to the town's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department to help oversee the cleanup of tons of contaminated fill dumped in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood.

Birbiglia, who was hired by the town in May 2012, will become deputy commissioner of the parks department, officials said. In addition to overseeing the cleanup efforts, Birbiglia will also handle media inquiries on the remediation efforts and other issues related to the park.

"The town board is committed to the cleanup and redevelopment of the park, so we are committing talented resources to the effort," said Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt.

The town's deputy communications director, Patricia Kaloski, will assume more responsibilities while remaining in her role. A search for a new communications director will begin soon, Bergin Weichbrodt said.

The town is also hiring a public relations firm to assist with communications. The town board unanimously approved a resolution at Tuesday's board meeting to hire Mineola-based Todd Shapiro Associates Inc. for a three-month, $4,000-per-month contract with options to extend the contract.

"Todd will be helping our public information office with all the other stories we deal with on a daily basis," Bergin Weichbrodt said.

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This is not Shapiro's first time working for the town. The board voted unanimously in 2012 to hire his firm to do public relations work for the town's Industrial Development Agency for a total of $3,000 a month for up to six months.

Shapiro also represents developer Gerald Wolkoff, whose proposed Heartland project the town board will vote on. Shapiro said he only serves Wolkoff in a public relations advisory capacity on the developer's golf course project in Brentwood and has nothing to do with the Heartland development proposal.

"I don't do any government work for Gerry. I work mostly on the golf course," Shapiro said. "I'm not a lobbyist and the golf course doesn't have anything to do with Town Hall. In no way, shape or form is there a conflict."

Town attorney Robert Cicale said Shapiro's work will be limited to the communications office, which has no influence over town board votes.

"He would not be implementing any voting on any issues that may come before the town, nor would the office that his company is assisting have anything to do with that," Cicale said. "By its very nature, his business is to deal with the press and not with applications or anything that would be before the government."

Roberto Clemente Park has been closed since April after the Suffolk County district attorney's office began investigating allegations of illegal dumping of 50,000 tons of debris laced with asbestos, petroleum-based products, heavy metals and pesticides.

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