Roberto Clemente Park to reopen 4 years after toxic dumping

Roberto Clemente Park to reopen 4 years after toxic dumping

A Suffolk community is about to get their park back four years after contaminated soil forced the closure of Roberto Clemente Park.
The town of Islip says Roberto Clemente Park will be open Monday for residents to enjoy. The Brentwood park has been closed for four years after officials discovered hazardous debris dumped there. Tens of thousands of tons of toxic debris had to be removed from the park.
In recent weeks, residents complained to the town that no firm opening date had been set. Islip Town Parks Commissioner Tom Owens says the remediation and renovation process took time to complete.

“We didn't want to open the park while we had big equipment coming in and out,” says Owens. “We didn't want to put children at risk. We certainly feel their pain and we're certainly sorry that it took so long.”

Owens says the park is now ready to be reopened.

“As you can see everything's been renovated,” says Owens. “The baseball field's ready for use. We have an all-purpose field that's ready. We have a playground that's ready. The back field that was remediated where all the waste was dumped has all been backfilled with all new topsoil and all new seed.”
Community activist Nelsena Day says while she wants to see children playing in the park again, she feels the town is rushing it .

“My main concern is the pavement hasn't been done,” says Day. “The parking lot hasn't been done. The curbing all hasn't been done. You're going to have kids running around in that park, somebody's going to fall on the wrong thing and they're going to get hurt. What is the town going to do then?”

But Owens says the park is safe.

“We've been working with the DEC,” says Owens. “Everything here has been inspected.”

Owens says starting Monday the gates to the park will be open from 8 a.m. until dusk seven days a week. He says the town is looking forward to welcoming residents back to the park.