RONKONKOMA - A purple flower oasis in Ronkonkoma dedicated to an 8-year-old girl with a terminal disease was destroyed by road construction crews on Friday.
Construction crews working on the Ronkonkoma Avenue Long Island Expressway overpass bulldozed a nearby garden and traffic median. The garden was dedicated to Kevin and Danielle O'Connor's daughter Emily, who has San Filippo Syndrome, which the O'Connors say is a rare disease that only about four children on Long Island have.
The family says they participated in Brookhaven Town's Adopt-A-Spot program and started voluntarily landscaping the median. The O'Connors and other volunteers have been maintaining the median garden for years, and there was also an official designation from the Town of Brookhaven.
Pressure from the community as well as inquiries from News 12 resulted in the contractor building a temporary garden this weekend, and returning the sign. The Department of Transportation has apologized for the damage, saying its contractor accidentally damaged the garden. The agency has also promised to restore it.
The median is the property of the Town of Brookhaven, so Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine told the contractor and DOT to return the area to the way it used to be within the next couple of months. Romaine says the town is prepared to step in and restore and replant the median, dedicate it to Emily and send the bill to the DOT.