CORAM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The state Department of Environmental Conservation and the town of Brookhaven are investigating the continued dumping of construction debris and other trash at a park on Long Island.
The DEC first started investigating illegal dumping at Tanglewood Park in Coram in November, Newsday reported. The probe is ongoing and the agency is still trying to figure out how the waste arrived at the park and who’s responsible, DEC officials said.
“There was multiple vinyl siding sticking out, multiple two-by-fours, there was roofing shingles, sheets of linoleum in the park,” Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn said. “Buried construction debris, we found piles of cement and bricks.”
A spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said his office conducted a site investigation and found no evidence of hazardous or contaminated materials among the waste.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, there’s a new push to get the public involved in stopping the illegal dumping across Long Island.
Hahn is now proposing a parks watch program, much like neighborhood watches, in which residents are encouraged to report illegal dumping and suspicious activity in parks.
“Ask them to be our eyes and ears on the ground so that if you see anything it gets reported,” she said. “We are really only scratching the surface on what seems to be a region wide issue of parks dumping.”
One resident actually caught a dumper in the act at Blydenberg Park.
“It was a landscaper that I actually caught personally, driving in his landscaping truck and basically dumping out debris,’ Bob Sikora said.
Hahn has proposed a county law to deter dumpers.
“Folks had clearly been systematically dumping, and not just dumping but digging holes and covering it up. This cannot happen and should not happen, our parks are the people’s property,” she said.
The bill would setup a park watch program, a formal way for park goers who see something to say something.
“If you can have a revolution and you see somebody dumping something. It’s not hard to snap a photo and send it to someone at the county,” Kevin McDonald, Nature Conservancy said.
The problem is not only the high profile cases of dumping — truckloads of construction debris at Roberto Clemente Park and tractor trailer loads suspected at West Hills Park.
DEC officials say the Tanglewood Park situation does not appear to be part of a large-scale dumping effort, and was dumped over time by many offenders looking to save money.
The proposed watch program could bring security cameras, social media, and signange directing people how to report offenders. It’s part of a countywide effort to return cherished parks to the public.
The Town of Brookhaven is working with the New York State DEC to determine the source of the material at Tanglewood Park, and once cleaned up has promised to prosecute.
Suffolk officials are hosting a park dumping roundtable on Friday at Suffolk Community College to discuss better ways to protect parks from this type of misuse.
Penalties for dumping solid waste can be as high as $11,250 per violation.
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