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Community leaders call on Islip town to reopen Ross Memorial Park

Community leaders and elected officials representing Brentwood and Central Islip held a news conference Tuesday to get answers for people who want to use the park.

News 12 Staff

Apr 6, 2021, 10:06 PM

Updated 1,196 days ago

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Members of two minority communities are calling on the Town of Islip to reopen Ross Memorial Park.
Community leaders and elected officials representing Brentwood and Central Islip held a news conference Tuesday to get answers for people who want to use the park.
"Am I unhappy that Ross Park has been closed so long? Yes, I am," says Legislator Sam Gonzalez.
Ross Park has been closed for renovations since last September. Town officials say they closed it because it had become a hotbed of illegal activity.
People in the community say they haven't heard a word about when the renovations will begin or when the park will reopen for their children and families.
Assemblyman Phil Ramos says Legislator Gonzalez seems to have some misguided priorities when it comes to dealing with the quality of life issues that the residents of Brentwood are experiencing.
Ramos issued a statement saying, "Ross Park has been plagued with drug dealers, vagrancy and prostitution. A police officer was assaulted there by some of the vagrants. The residents demanded action so I secured $650 thousand to develop the park with a stage for the performing arts and facilities for families to enjoy. The town closed the park and some of the work has started. I have met with the group of homeless people and offered them housing and substance abuse treatment. None have taken me up on the offer. Why would legislator Gonzalez want us to stop the construction and facilitate criminal activity? He should move the bus stop to another area as he has promised and stop exacerbating the crime problem that exist. That is what our resident want."
Community activists say the town needs to have a conversation about what goes on at the park, specifically with what they say is open drug use and homelessness.
"That's what the issues are out here in all these communities," says community activist Devon Toney. "There's no voice so there's a lot of confusion."
Residents hope that town officials will talk with them not just about reopening Ross Park, but also about their community at large.
A spokesperson for the Town of Islip released a statement saying, "The Town of Islip closed Ross Park in cooperation with Assemblyman Phil Ramos, in an effort to protect the community from heavy gang activity and drug use. It had become an open-air drug market. We are currently diligently working to improve Ross Park. It was a difficult decision, and while it is presently not open to the community temporarily, we felt it is in the best interests of our residents and their children to do so in order to protect them from nefarious gang and drug activity, and eventually return Ross Park to the community, as a safe haven for residents and families."


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