Costs to clean up Islip sites rise; final costs unknown

At an Islip Town Board meeting on Aug. 5, 2014, updates were given on the cleanup of the town's contaminated sites and residents could voice concerns about how the situation affects them. (Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz)

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The costs to clean up contaminated sites in Islip continue to rise, even as the town waits for the final tally for the estimated multimillion-dollar remediation of Brentwood's Roberto Clemente Park.

The Islip Town Board on Tuesday voted to pay Enviroscience Consultants Inc. -- a Ronkonkoma-based firm hired to aid the town in cleanup preparations -- an additional $21,000 to conduct further testing. That work was done on materials at the Bay Shore Marina, the Police Athletic League Fields on Clayton Street in Central Islip -- where asbestos has been confirmed -- and a site at Bayport Beach, which has been cleared.

In May, Enviroscience was awarded a $50,150 contract by the town to conduct the parks' assessments. Also in May, the company was awarded a $192,500 contract to help construct a remediation plan for Clemente Park, where Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota has said an estimated 50,000 tons of debris laced with heavy metals and pesticides was dumped.

The three town-owned properties were initially tested as part of a townwide assessment of each of its 109 parks, an undertaking prompted by Spota's criminal probe into illegal dumping at four sites found contaminated with pesticides and heavy metals. The three properties that underwent further testing are not believed to be related to Spota's investigation.

A resolution to sell up to $6 million in bonds to fund the cleanup of Clemente park passed in May, but those bonds have not yet been issued, Islip Town Comptroller Joseph Ludwig said, and won't be until the true cost is known.

"We pray for down, but unfortunately, the likelihood [is it will] probably end up going up," Ludwig said of the cost to remediate the park.

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The town is expected to submit its remediation plan for Clemente park to the state Department of Environmental Conservation by the end of this month, with approval likely to come by the end of September, according to Inez Birbiglia, deputy town parks commissioner.

"I think we'll have a better idea of the true costs after the DEC looks at our plan," Islip Supervisor Tom Croci said. "We'll know what material we can put in our own landfill, what material has to be shipped out, that's really going to be the bulk of the cost. Once that happens, we'll have a better idea."

At Tuesday's meeting, the town board unanimously passed a resolution to refinance $19 million in public improvement bonds, which would save the town $867,000 over the next seven years, according to the resolution. Ludwig said the refinancing is not in reaction to the mounting bills the town is being forced to pay in relation to the contaminated sites.Last week, town departments submitted their 2015 budgets to Ludwig for review. Croci said he is working toward cost savings in "every department and agency" and asked his commissioners to adhere to zero-based budgeting practices.

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The last-calculated deficit for the town stood at $11.3 million at the end of 2013.

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