Residents organize rally to demand cleanup of Bethpage Community Park

News 12 reached out to Northrop Grumman for comment but haven't heard back.

Jon Dowding

May 3, 2024, 2:23 AM

Updated 16 days ago


Bethpage residents organized a rally Thursday evening to demand an expedited clean up at Bethpage Community Park and to reopen the baseball field to the community.
Thursday marks 22 years since the baseball field was closed off from the public so the cleanup could begin. The community’s frustration over decades of inaction is what brought roughly 100 community members together for the rally outside of the Bethpage Public Library.
"And it's still not cleaned up,” said Frank Debobes, of Bethpage.
Residents say it's past time for federal, state and local officials as well as Northrop Grumman to expedite the cleanup process.
Donald Schiavetta has lived in Bethpage all his life and helped organize Thursday’s rally.
"Every day, there's one more problem and there's one more person involved,” he said. “We want it to end. Fix the park, then go after the perpetrators. It's time to fix it now."
During the rally, longtime residents shared their memories of playing baseball and football on the fields where just last month, crews discovered 16 chemical drums buried beneath the surface. On Monday, the state DEC says ground penetrating radar detected two more anomalies underground.
"I come from a baseball family. My brothers played ball. Now my nephews play ball. And the kids today, they need to go outside,” said Donna Catapano, of Farmingdale.
Community members also called for the release of the results of soil and chemical drum testing.
"All kinds of things get repaired and taken care of in an orderly, quick orderly fashion,” said Debobes. “This area that Grumman has polluted has been pushed to the side."
This is the first of many rallies community members say they'll organize. They say they just want to know when they'll get their park back.
"It's taken so long to get done,” said Catapano. “Why can't they get it done now?"
News 12 reached out to Northrop Grumman for comment but haven't heard back.
News 12 heard from officials from the Town of Oyster Bay, the state DEC and Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office about Thursday’s rally.
“We encourage all Long Islanders to join us in calling on the state Department of Environmental Conservation to hold Grumman fully accountable for the immediate removal of all contaminated soils at the park along with the costs associated with restoring the park, ballfield and other amenities,” said Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino.
DEC Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said in a statement:
“It’s important to remind Bethpage residents that New York State DEC is overseeing the responsible party Northrop Grumman as they undertake this work. We’re not pleased with what we found at the ballfield. DEC is overseeing this work to make sure that there isn’t a risk to public health and the environment. We know that encased drums are contained on site but we’re not happy we’re in this position and we’re going to do this step by step and let science be our guide into any other additional areas we have to investigate in this area during the State’s ongoing and comprehensive efforts to address the Navy-Grumman plume and historic contamination in the park.”
A spokesperson for Sen. Schumer’s office said, "We are in close contact with all parties from the top down to the local level. We have spoken with the NYS DEC and are closely monitoring."

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