State and Islip Town officials announced plans for a spray park to be built at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, the hamlet’s largest public park that has been closed since April 2014 when 40,000 tons of contaminated material was found illegally dumped there.
The gates to the 27.9-acre recreational space remain locked one year after Islip Town spent $3 million to clean it up.
At a news conference Friday outside the Shipwreck Cove Spray Park at the Bay Shore Marina, state Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) said he had secured $2 million in this year’s state budget to go toward the building of a similar water feature in Clemente Park. Officials said they hoped it would be open by the summer of 2018.
A decrepit pool inside Clemente Park was last open in summer 2012 before it was closed months later due to what town officials at the time described as budget cuts. Public dismay voiced by local residents over the shuttering of the pool led town officials to announce plans to fix the facility at a news conference in August 2013, when they stood in the empty Olympic-sized pool and vowed to have it reopened by summer 2014.
However, the illegal dumping had been taking place at the park since earlier that summer and continued through spring 2015, closing the entire park.
In December 2015, six individuals were indicted by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota for illegal dumping, including Tom Datre Jr., who pleaded guilty in March to several felonies for dumping at the park and four other Suffolk sites.
Christopher Grabe, of Islandia Recycling, pleaded guilty alongside Datre Jr. for dumping at Clemente Park and a privately owned Central Islip site; Ronald Cianciulli, of Atlas Asphalt, was found guilty after a bench trial in June for aiding Datre Jr. in dumping and processing materials at a sensitive wetlands site in Deer Park; charges against Datre Jr.’s father, Tom Datre Sr., were dropped in lieu of his son’s guilty plea.
Two ex-Islip Town officials, former parks commissioner Joseph J. Montuori Jr. and his former secretary, Brett A. Robinson, are due back in court on dumping-related charges Tuesday.
In April 2015, state Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville) held a news conference outside the locked gates of the park where he announced that $1 million in state funds was earmarked to help clean up the contaminated debris.
At a town board meeting in August 2015, the board voted to take that $1 million and attach it to an amended bond resolution to fix up the pool. The money was later used for the cleanup, but was replaced to keep the same amount of funds for a pool rehab, an Islip Town spokeswoman said.
At Friday’s news conference, Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter couldn’t say if the pool was still part of the town’s plans and said she wasn’t aware of what funding was still available for such a project.