Islip Town officials have secured $450,000 in state funding that will make way for plans to build a long-awaited skate park at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood, town officials said.
The money from the state capital funding for the skate park, which is now estimated to cost about $1 million, was secured by Assemb. Philip Ramos (D-Brentwood). The town had already budgeted more than $600,000 for the park but faced a funding gap as a result of higher costs for labor and materials caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter in 2018 announced plans for the skate park after residents, particularly young people, demanded a place where youth could skate, saying it could play a role in changing Brentwood’s image, which has been tarnished by gang-related crime. Hamlet residents have largely been supportive of the skate park — which will be the only one in Islip Town and will be located in the southwest portion of Roberto Clemente Park.
No dates have been determined for when construction will begin, but it could be completed this year, Carpenter told Newsday on Wednesday. She had previously said the town board will need to approve design contracts.
Roberto Clemente Park, the site of illegal dumping in 2013 and 2014, was shuttered for more than three years as crews removed tons of hazardous construction waste. The state attorney general's office in 2017 filed a federal lawsuit against companies involved in the illegal dumping.
State Attorney General Letitia James in May 2021 announced eight companies would pay $627,000 for the contamination of multiple parks in Brentwood. The settlement was earmarked for park enhancements but the town has not yet received approval from the attorney general's office to use the funds.
Brentwood students have been a driving force behind the proposed skate park, Ramos told Newsday.
Alberto Melgar, a Brentwood High School senior, garnered 1,100 signatures for a petition in support of the park. As a representative of the National Honor Society, Melgar, 18, attended the attorney general's office meetings related to the park, which, he said, enabled him to discuss the skate park with his peers and stakeholders.
"I have a lot of friends who skate, and I think it's something that I wanted to do for my friends and for everyone," he told Newsday on Wednesday, adding that while he doesn't skate, he plans to skate at the new park.
Roberto Clemente Park in recent years has received some $13 million in improvements, including a $2 million splash park and a revamped pool. The skate park will be the latest addition at the facility.
The skate park is a key focus of the newly formed District 1 Youth Advisory Board, composed of local high school and college students who hope to engage town officials on issues important to them.
"This skatepark is more than just a place where kids skate. It's a spot where dreams can be talked about, where lifelong friendships can be created, and serves as a memory for the lives taken way too early," the youth board said in a news release on Wednesday.