Members of animal advocacy group Long Island Orchestrating for Nature...

Members of animal advocacy group Long Island Orchestrating for Nature rally in Brookwood Hall Park in East Islip on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, to show their gratitude to the Town of Islip for denying permits to the Cole Bros. Circus. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The Islip Town Parks Department has denied a permit application from the Cole Bros. Circus to come to town this summer to help raise funds for a local fire department because of what circus animals left behind the last time.

A permit application -- filed on April 20 by Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1 of the East Islip Fire Department, which would have held the event as a fundraiser -- was denied the next day by Islip Parks Commissioner Kerry Bassett. The circus company wanted to hold six shows at various times on Aug. 1 and 2 on the Brookwood Hall Park grounds in East Islip, which is also the site of town parks department offices.

Bassett, who was appointed to her position in January, said she turned to her colleagues in the parks department who witnessed the aftermath of last year's circus held in July, which included elephants and a Bengal tiger.

"They explained that the fields were left in complete disarray," Bassett said, adding it cost the town $1,100 for repairs and cleanup last year.

"Animal waste was left all over, and when people came to work Monday morning, it was not pleasant, let's just say that."

The town also expects to get a $500,000 donation from Quintal Landscape of Islip for groundwork at the park to restore it to the aesthetics of a century ago, Bassett said, work that is expected to be completed in early summer before the circus was to perform.

Had the circus come, conflicts would also have arisen with local Little League teams who have already been permitted to use the fields, she said.

Animal advocacy groups have protested outside the shows locally, claiming the entertainment group employs abusive animal practices, but Bassett said the picketing last summer when Cole was in Islip was not a factor in her decision to deny the permit.

John Di Leonardo, president of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, Long Island's largest animal advocacy organization, said he recently wrote letters to town board members, asking them to ban the circus out of concern for the animals involved.

"We are very glad the circus has been canceled," said Di Leonardo, who is also a campaigner for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, "but we definitely believe the animal welfare concerns and the public safety concerns should definitely weigh in a decision if a permit were ever to be considered again."

The controversial show was put on for the past two years by the Cole Bros. Circus at Brookwood, with a permit approved by the town, Islip officials said.

The Village of Greenport has allowed the Greenport Fire Department to hold a fundraiser for its safety education department with a Cole Bros. Circus for at least the past 12 years, village Clerk Sylvia Pirillo said. It has most recently approved a permit Feb. 23 for shows during Aug. 6-7.

"We've had no problems," Greenport Mayor George Hubbard said of Cole Bros. "They come in and they leave and the grounds look the same as before. We've had no issue with them."

Officials from Cole Bros. Circus and the East Islip Fire Department did not return requests for comment.

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