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Islip gets approval to install testing wells at Roberto Clemente park

A Town of Islip tank truck sprays what

A Town of Islip tank truck sprays what appears to be water on a section of Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood on Monday, June 30, 2014. This section of the park is among areas contaminated by illegal dumping, authorities said. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has approved the first phase of remediation at Roberto Clemente Park, the initial step in the overall cleanup plan to rid the Brentwood park of nearly 50,000 tons of debris laced with toxins, Islip Town officials said.

The DEC has approved the town's plan to install groundwater monitoring wells at the park, said Pierce Cohalan, a deputy commissioner in the Islip public safety department, at the town board meeting Tuesday. The wells will be in use for the duration of the cleanup, and are the starting pieces that must be in place before work begins.

"These wells must be installed prior to any disturbance of the materials," Cohalan said.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota launched a criminal probe last spring into illegal dumping at the park and three other Islip Town sites.

The full remediation plan for the park, which officials have said would be completed and submitted to the DEC by the end of August, is not yet finished, Cohalan said. It is expected to be complete in the coming weeks.

"The threshold is to get the wells in first, because before you can do anything, you have to have the testing wells in," Islip Supervisor Tom Croci said. "We got that in first to get that approval. . . . The next part is to tailor our plan and make sure we get it in."

Croci said the delay in submitting the full plan is due to the historic amount of rainfall, 13.57 inches, that fell on the South Shore town Aug. 13.

"We did have to make sure we were directing resources to our recovery after the storm, so some of our brightest minds were busy trying to make sure we could get through the storm," Croci said.

The wells will be installed by Enviroscience Consultants, Inc., a Ronkonkoma-based firm awarded several town contracts -- amounting to $263,650 so far -- to help assess and test the town's parks and monitor cleanup at Clemente Park.

Croci could not say when construction of the wells would start or how much installing and running them would cost. In May, the town board passed a resolution to sell up to $6 million in bonds to fund the cleanup, but the bonds have not yet been issued, town officials said. The bonds will likely not be sold until the true cost of the remediation is known, officials said, while some officials expect the cost to be more than $6 million.

The town has completed remediation work at the Police Athletic League fields on Clayton Avenue in Central Islip and the Bay Shore Marina in Bay Shore, where asbestos had been found, Cohalan said.

The town-owned properties were surveyed as part of a townwide assessment of each of its 109 parks, which was prompted by Spota's criminal probe.

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