Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter in her first State of the Town address offered a positive forecast for the future, despite an $11.3 million budget deficit and the fallout from the illegal dumping of contaminated fill in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood.
Carpenter vowed to handle the park cleanup "expeditiously" and "safely" in her speech Thursday at Town Hall, and called Islip "Long Island's greatest town to live, work and raise a family."
She painted an optimistic picture for the park, now the focus of a multimillion-dollar cleanup effort. "The refurbished Clemente Park will be a safer, more beautiful place for the children and families of Brentwood, and all town residents, to enjoy for many years to come," Carpenter said.
Her speech comes six weeks into her first term as supervisor. She was named to the post by the Islip GOP executive committee after Thomas Croci resigned from the post when he won election to the State Senate last year.
Carpenter touched on future initiatives working with the private sector on reducing the town's debt and revitalizing town-owned Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.
In response, Islip Town Democratic Committee chairman Gerry Pallotta called the speech misleading.
"Supervisor Carpenter chose to paint a deceptive and misleading picture of our community, rather than be upfront and honest about the deep-rooted financial problems of this administration," Pallotta said in an email. "Rather than offer real solutions and change, Supervisor Carpenter is continuing with the same failed policies that gave us poor or reduced services, a failing Islip airport, and the scandalous toxic dumping at Roberto Clemente Park that has resulted in the indictments of Town officials and millions in cleanup costs."
Along with four private citizens, two former parks department employees have been charged by the Suffolk County district attorney's office in connection with the dumping in Roberto Clemente Park.
Carpenter declined to comment on Pallotta's statement.
In her speech, she also said the massive Heartland Town Square project presented "exciting offerings." Afterward, she declined to say if she would vote for the project when the application comes before the town board for approval.
Carpenter also noted the town was working with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on getting federal approval for MacArthur Airport's master plan for runway expansion, as well as coordinating with Brookhaven on shared services including use of the Yaphank landfill.
The park dumping scandal has been difficult for residents and the town's staff to grapple with, Carpenter said. "We're the victims of a crime, too," she said in an interview after her speech.
With the selection of a winning bidder last week for the park cleanup, she said she was hopeful the cleanup will launch in June and finish within 90 days.
Town Environmental Control Commissioner Eric Hofmeister is undergoing asbestos inspector certification so he can be on site at the park during the cleanup, she said.
"We're paying attention and listening," Carpenter said in the interview.
KEY POINTS OF STATE OF TOWN SPEECH
Highlights from Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter's State of the Town speech:
The town hopes to begin the cleanup of Roberto Clemente Park in June and finish in 90 days.
The town has convened a blue-ribbon commission to work on increasing business travel at Long Island MacArthur Airport.
Brookhaven and Islip are partnering in a shared-services agreement for Islip to use the Yaphank landfill.
-- SOPHIA CHANG