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Know Your Rights
Source: Newsday
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Islip officials frustrated with pace of Clemente Park cleanup approval by state

Town of Islip officials yesterday questioned what they called a lack of progress in getting state Department of Environmental Conservation approval for plans to clean up the estimated 50,000 tons of contaminated construction debris from Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood.

Town officials initially projected the first truckloads of fill would be carted out of the park by the end of November.

In an update at Tuesday’s town board meeting, Deputy Town Parks Commissioner Inez Birbiglia said she last met with DEC officials on Dec. 3 to go over five pages of DEC comments about the remediation plan. The letter, sent to the town Nov. 26, included requiring two groundwater monitoring wells to be installed in addition to the three that were put at the park Sept. 24.

“We’re hopeful that this round of comments from the state will be the last and we will soon receive an approval to clean up the park,” Birbiglia said. “Entering the winter season without an approval in hand is a concern to our team.”

DEC spokesman Thomas Mailey said in a statement that the agency had “not yet received a revised Work Plan from the Town of Islip.”

Birbiglia said in a statement that the town was disappointed in the amount of time it took to get comments from the state and is still awaiting clarification on some issues. The initial 250-page plan, prepared by Enviroscience Consultants, Inc., of Ronkonkoma, was submitted to the DEC on Sept. 5.

Birbiglia could not provide an updated timeline but said that even after approval the town will need time to advertise a public bid for the work, select a qualified contractor and allow time to organize the cleanup.

Supervisor Tom Croci said he is “frustrated with the slow pace” of the DEC approval.

Residents and members of New York Communities for Change and Make The Road New York Tuesday demanded a community participation plan be set up, as outlined in the DEC’s suggestions.

“That will not be in my hands, but the request has been made to the board and to the [parks] commissioner,” said Croci, who is leaving office Jan. 1 after being elected to the State Senate. “So we will include all the community members — that was the promise — if the DEC requires us to do it.”

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