Roberto Clementè Park and Illegal Dumping

By Alanna McGovern, a third year law student at Touro Law Center and a Summer Fellow at Touro Law’s Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Institute.

As seen in the news recently, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office and N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation are investigating the illegal dumping of toxins in the Roberto Clementè park in Brentwood, New York, and residents are calling for criminal charges. As summer weather approaches, parks become an integral part of the life of a Long Islander. Many people venture to parks in order to get out of their homes with their children, take in the sunshine, and get some exercise. However, for many their traditional summer routine has been severely altered and people are demanding an answer from the Town of Islip.

The dumping of 32,000 tons of toxic debris in this park is being called an environmental nightmare. The Suffolk County District Attorney stated that the debris dumped by many different trucks contained asbestos and likely other contaminants.

“This calamity has occurred because of the greed and avarice of at least one unscrupulous contractor illegally disposing of toxic waste,” Spota said.

The DA’s office and DEC are investigating claims of illegal dumping said to have been done  by a contractor who was reseeding soccer fields for a nearby church. Assemblyman Phillip Ramos believes that the town of Islip had prior knowledge of this contaminated  fill. Also, the same day the allegations came into the limelight, town officials announced the resignation of Islip Town Parks Commissioner Joseph Montuori. The Town is conducting an internal investigation.

It is currently unclear how the dumpsite will be remediated, but one thing we know for sure is that many who were frequent patrons of the park will have to go elsewhere for this summer season.

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