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Suffolk DA eyes possible illegal dumping at third Islip Town park

Town of Islip engineering staff inspect the grounds

Town of Islip engineering staff inspect the grounds of the Clayton Street PAL fields in Central Islip on Thursday, May 15, 2014. Credit: Barry Sloan

Asbestos has been found at a second Islip Town park, town officials said Thursday, and Suffolk County district attorney investigators are looking into possible illegal dumping of hazardous waste at a third town park.

Both town facilities are on the site of the former Central Islip state psychiatric hospital.

"We were advised today that there is friable asbestos at the Police Athletic League fields at Clayton Avenue and Lowell Avenue in Central Islip," said Robert Clifford, spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Town officials said five pieces of asbestos-containing pipe insulation had been discovered at the PAL fields during an inspection conducted earlier in the day by EnviroScience Consultants president Glenn Neuschwender.

Less than a mile to the south, investigators are examining a site at Eastview Drive to see if illegal dumping occurred.

"We are also aware EnviroScience will examine the Town's Eastview Drive baseball fields for evidence of hazardous materials and we await those results," Clifford said.

Testing for contaminants is expected in the coming days, town officials said.

The town hired EnviroScience, which specializes in toxic-waste investigation and remediation, after the district attorney's office launched a criminal probe into illegal dumping at nearby Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood -- also a town park.

An estimated 32,000 tons of debris was deposited at the park, Spota has said, and high levels of asbestos were found in initial samples of the surface.

Investigators are awaiting the results of more samplings taken at three different depths beneath the park's surface to determine if more asbestos and other toxic materials, such as petroleum products and heavy metals, are present.

Islip Councilman Anthony Senft, the town's board member responsible for parks, said Thursday a townwide review and assessment of all park facilities was instigated as soon as the town learned from the district attorney that asbestos had been found at Roberto Clemente Park. The town decided to focus first on any facilities where recent construction has occurred, he said.

At the site on Clayton Avenue, Senft said the asbestos was found in a 10-foot-by-10-foot area on the park's southwest periphery.

The park -- a 30-acre site that is under a long-term lease to the county PAL -- is undergoing construction of two new multipurpose playing fields, officials said, with one field already sown and the second awaiting the placement of topsoil.

The five pieces of asbestos pipe insulation were found some distance from the fields, the town said, behind an aged mulch berm. Officials reported the discovery to the district attorney's office shortly afterward, said Senft, and decided to place a stop-work order on the fields' construction.

"We don't yet know the origin of this material," he said, adding it's possible it may have been at the site for some years, even dating back to the demolition of the psychiatric facility itself.

At the Eastview Drive site, Paul Solaski, a coordinator with the Central Islip Soccer Club, said Wednesday he was excited when he found out a soccer field was going to be built at the Eastview Drive site. But that field is now covered with debris.

"What's going to happen if a kid falls on this?" Solaski said. "It's a lawsuit waiting to happen."

Spota said last week that "at least one unscrupulous contractor" was involved in dumping asbestos-laden debris at Roberto Clemente Park.

This week, investigators found asbestos at a privately owned site two miles from Roberto Clemente Park, Spota said, and now believe multiple sites -- including an Islandia veterans housing development -- in the town may have been used to dump illegal fill by the same contractors.

A visit last week by investigators to the corporate headquarters of "Datre/Daytree" companies was connected to the criminal probe, officials have said.

The Datre family owns several construction and hauling firms. Thomas Datre Jr. heads DFF Farms Corp., which had a permit to dump "permissible" fill into the park last summer, his attorney has said.

His parents, Thomas Datre Sr. and Clara Datre, are prominent fundraisers in the town. In addition, Clara Datre ran for supervisor in 2007 and Datre Sr. became a member of the town's plumbing examining board in 1981.

Andrew Campanelli, an attorney for one of the couple's companies, Daytree at Cortland Square Inc., said there are two trucks titled to the Datres' company that were seen going to the park, but that they may have been operated by their son or grandson.

In a Wednesday interview -- their first since their offices were searched -- Thomas and Clara Datre stood by their son.

"Good or bad, he's still my son," Thomas Datre Sr. said. "I'm not walking away from my son. . . . The truth will prevail."

A second round of air sampling at 16 sites around the periphery of Roberto Clemente Park, conducted Wednesday, showed no presence of asbestos, the town said. The first round last week showed the same result.

On Wednesday, two Democratic Suffolk legislators, Monica Martinez of Brentwood and Rob Calarco of Patchogue, filed a resolution to bar those found guilty of environmental crimes from doing business with the county.

Their proposal says that anyone convicted of an environmental crime in the previous decade would be disqualified from bidding on county contracts by determining they are a "non-responsible bidder."

The measure broadens the existing law, which already bars the county from using firms convicted of theft, bribery, extortion, fraud to include "any environmental crime including, but not limited to illegal use or disposal of toxic/hazardous waste or chemicals."

With Rick Brand


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