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Veterans Way in Islandia under investigation as possible dump site

Investigators are testing soil at a newly developed

Investigators are testing soil at a newly developed six-home subdivision for veterans and their families as they look into possible illegal dumping of toxic waste at the Islandia site. Above, a view of the property on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

At the groundbreaking just shy of one year ago, six homes on a cul-de-sac in Islandia were hailed as the first affordable houses built for returning veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"One of the many hurdles facing returning veterans is finding an affordable place to live and anchor their lives," Thomas Datre Sr., then president of the Long Island Home Builders Care Development Corp. -- the charitable arm of Long Island Builders Institute that sponsored the construction -- said in a statement at the time. "We hope our program can help fulfill this need."

Tuesday, five months after the first-time homeowners got the keys to their new houses, the 3.5-acre subdivision off Motor Parkway became the latest site to be investigated in connection with a widening probe of illegal dumping in the Town of Islip.

Investigators were led to the site after learning companies associated with the Datre family were involved in the project, the sources said. The soil at the Islandia site is to be tested for contaminants, sources said.

Kevin Kearon, attorney for DFF Farm Corp., acknowledged Thomas Datre Jr.'s role in the construction of the Islandia homes.

"Tom Datre Jr. and his family were happily and proudly involved in this project to benefit American veterans and we resent any implication that under any circumstances we would have put such people in harm's way," Kearon said Tuesday.

The disclosure that Veterans Way in Islandia is also under investigation came hours after Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota confirmed that asbestos has been found in a second illegal dumping site in a lot on Route 111 and Sage Street in Central Islip.

Investigators believe the parties responsible for that contaminated debris are the ones to blame for about 32,000 tons of asbestos-laden debris dumped in Islip-owned Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood since June, Spota said.

Last week, DA investigators seized evidence at the Ronkonkoma corporate headquarters of "Datre/Daytree" companies in connection to the criminal probe in Roberto Clemente Park.

Kearon said earlier this week that Datre Jr.'s company dumped "permissible" fill at Roberto Clemente Park.

A Newsday reporter who visited the cul-de-sac yesterday afternoon saw a state Department of Environmental Conservation lieutenant with the bureau of environmental crimes unit speaking with homeowners.

One woman, who did not want to be named, clutched her infant in her arms and said: "We'll just worry about something when we have something to worry about."

Thomas Sr. and Clara Datre, who are prominent political fundraisers in the town, own several construction and hauling firms, including Daytree at Cortland Square Inc., where Clara Datre is president. Their son, Thomas Datre Jr., heads DFF Farm Corp.

Andrew Campanelli, attorney for Daytree at Cortland Square Inc., said Thomas Datre Sr. "is unaware that anything inappropriate was brought" to the Islandia site and "has no objection" to the DA wanting to conduct testing.

Earlier this week, the Long Island Builders Institute suspended Thomas and Clara Datre from their position with the industry lobby group. Datre Sr. was president in 2004 and Clara Datre its first female president in 2012.

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