Popular LI Park to Reopen After ‘Environmental Racism’ Case

The Acosta family eagerly waiting for the approaching reopening of the popular park. (Photo via Noticia Long Island)

[Editor’s note: Noticia LI reports that several weeks after the Islip, NY authorities announced that Brentwood’s Roberto Clemente Park would reopen after a toxic waste scandal, residents and local activists are complaining that cleaning work is lagging behind and it looks like it will remain closed for the summer season.

“The unjustified delays in the reopening of the Roberto Clemente Park have left Brentwood’s working families with little options for their children this summer,” said Legislator Mónica R. Martínez (D-9th LD).]

On Thursday, May 4, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed a federal lawsuit to recover millions of dollars in damages from waste handling companies and individuals who dumped 40,000 tons of contaminated debris in Brentwood’s Roberto Clemente Park, depriving this Suffolk County community of a popular recreational area.

The lawsuit, filed by Schneiderman in the district court, is also seeking to obtain monetary compensation from more than two dozen companies that had not been previously associated with waste disposal.

“Roberto Clemente Park was closed in 2014 because contractors would dump waste in the park, contaminating the community. It was easier for them to dump it here because, otherwise, they would have to go all the way to New Jersey to do it, and they saved money throwing it here in this local park. […] That is called environmental racism,” said Assemblyman Phil Ramos.

“From the moment I began my term in the assembly, I took it upon myself to return this park to the community,” added Ramos, who said that he obtained $2 million in funding to build a water park inside Roberto Clemente Park.

New York community leaders and activists are happy to see that justice was done at last. “It is a lesson for the people who perpetrated this crime, this evil act. It is cause for satisfaction for the community, as our pride was hurt by this offense to human dignity,” said Frank Sprouse-Guzmán, from Make the Road New York.

Meanwhile, although the Long Island community is glad to hear the news that the park will reopen this summer, they express some skepticism. “We hope that they keep the promises they made us and really open the park again. I have been to City Hall before to ask them to clean it up and reopen it, but it was all in vain,” said Blanca Acosta, 49, a Brentwood resident.

Roberto Clemente Park will open its doors again this summer, but construction for the water park will not begin until 2018. All monies obtained through this lawsuit will be invested in the recreational area.

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