The family of Billy Schettino at the Brookhaven Town park...

The family of Billy Schettino at the Brookhaven Town park on Sunday. The park will be named after Billy, who was killed in a 2012 crash. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Once a year for the past 12 years, Luigi and JoAnn Schettino have gathered with family members to remember their son Billy at the vacant lot near their Blue Point home that he had hoped to turn into a park before he was killed in a crash on the Long Island Expressway.

When the family meets on March 30 at the 2-acre site on Park Street, it’ll be for the opening of a $2 million Brookhaven Town park featuring skateboarding ramps — just like what Billy Schettino had wanted.

“This means a lot. Billy [was] trying to get this going when he was a little boy," Luigi Schettino said Monday, after visiting the park the night before. The park also features a children's playground, basketball courts and walking trails.

Brookhaven officials have said the facility, called Roe Park in planning documents, will be renamed Billy's Park for Schettino.

Billy's Park

  • Brookhaven Town will formally open Billy's Park (formerly Roe Park) at 11 a.m. March 30 on Park Street in Blue Point.
  • The 2-acre park is named for Billy Schettino, an 18-year-old Blue Point resident who was killed in a 2012 crash on the Long Island Expressway.
  • Construction of the park was delayed last fall because of late deliveries of construction material, town officials have said.

"It’s a big thing for him up there to be looking down on us,” Luigi Schettino said. “It’s a good feeling.”

Billy Schettino was 18 when he was struck and killed by a Suffolk County sheriff's cruiser on March 14, 2012, while standing by his disabled vehicle on the LIE. A grand jury did not indict the deputy whose cruiser struck Schettino.

The Schettino family later reached an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount with the county and sheriff's office.

Before he died, Billy Schettino had launched a community-wide effort to lobby for a park at the empty lot that Blue Point residents called "the wastelands," JoAnn Schettino said. The property — previously a commercial laundromat and auto repair shop — had been seized by the county for back taxes in 1998. The county demolished vacant buildings on the site.

The Schettino family and many supporters continued the project after Billy died, and last year the land was transferred to Brookhaven, which announced plans for the park. 

Funding for the park included $1.6 million from Suffolk County and $400,000 from Brookhaven.

The park's construction faced several hurdles in recent months.

Completion of the project, originally scheduled for the fall, was delayed because of problems receiving construction material, town officials said in December.

On Monday, the state Department of Environmental Conservation fined the town $2,000 for failing to obtain a permit before clearing vegetation and placing fill near Purgatory Creek, which runs adjacent to the park. The fine would be reduced to $500 if the town plants 10 trees at the park and creates a meadow with native grasses and wildflowers, the DEC said.

Brookhaven Parks Commissioner Edward Morris said Tuesday the town would comply with the order and complete the work within a month.

Ed Silsbe, president of the Blue Point Community Civic Association, said he worries that sediment washed into the creek during construction, potentially harming the river, fish and other wildlife.

He said he is "thrilled" about the park, but faulted Brookhaven officials for not obtaining a DEC permit before construction started. Town officials had said a permit was not required.

"It’s unfortunate that they avoided that for whatever reason," Silsbe said Monday. "It saved nothing and did a lot of damage.”

Luigi Schettino said he was not concerned about delays in the park's completion.

I know everything takes time, and what I appreciate is all the hard work that people put into it to get it here now, he said.
JoAnn Schettino called the park "fabulous" and said it brought to mind one of her son's favorite sayings:Cherish the present, change the future.

She and her husband said Billy would have been gratified that Blue Point children have a new place to play and ride skateboards safely.

"The beauty of this community is reflective of the love my son had for all around him, JoAnn Schettino said. "His dream is finally coming true."

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