Protecting Green Space
Brentwood Illegal Dumping
Ensuring the Safe and Transparent Cleanup of Toxic Waste Illegally Dumped in Community Park: In June 2014, NYLPI was contacted by community members from Brentwood, Long Island, a low-income community of color that is part of the Town of Islip. Their local park had been the site of illegal dumping of 50,000 tons of construction debris contaminated by a variety of toxins including asbestos and DDT. As a result, the park and its pool have been closed, and an expensive clean-up effort is underway so that it can be reopened to the public.
Over time it became clear that the dumping was done by a politically-connected construction firm and to some degree, with the knowledge of local officials. In December 2014, the Suffolk County District Attorney indicted two former Islip Town parks department officials, the owners of a politically-connected construction firm and two contractors on charges related to the dumping, including multiple violations of state environmental laws.
Working with pro bono partner Dentons US LLP, NYLPI successfully advocated alongside community organizers from Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change to ensure that the Town’s proposed clean-up process has been transparent and thorough. We have worked with community partners and public agencies to ensure ample opportunity for community engagement and input.
Gowanus Canal Superfund Cleanup
The Gowanus canal in Brooklyn is among the most polluted in the country and has been a dumping ground for manufacturing plants and factories since the 1800’s. In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency declared the canal a Superfund site, laying the groundwork for an extensive cleanup. Shortly thereafter, community groups and activists began organizing to ensure that Gowanus residents have a voice in the clean-up process.
NYLPI has been working alongside Fifth Avenue Committee and activists from FUREE and other community members to help navigate the complex Superfund cleanup process at the Gowanus Canal, with the primary goal of certifying that a local park – known as Thomas Greene Park and/or the “Double D pool” – is not unduly threatened by the cleanup. The park is located a block from the canal at its north end, and is a crucial area of green space and recreational facilities in an area lacking open space and is highly used by residents in the area.