Toxic chemicals in soil close Roberto Clemente Park on Long Island

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Kristin Thorne reports from Long Island with alternatives for campers. (WABC)

Contaminated soil concerns on Long Island are leading to some summer changes for children.

Seth Dortch, 14, has basketball, friends, and free time but no court to play in.

"In the summertime a lot of us used to live over here. We would play basketball from morning to night," said Seth Dortch, a Brentwood resident.

Roberto Clemente Park is the place for kids in this area to be in the summer.

It's closed indefinitely because of toxic materials found in the soil.

"How do you feel that you can't go into the park this summer?" Eyewitness News asked.

"I feel sad," said Jalline Martinez, a Brentwood resident.

"What do you guys do if you don't have the park?" Eyewitness News asked.

"We don't do anything. We just stay home or, like, go places," said George Pascacio, a Brentwood resident.

But now there is welcome news.

Local officials announced that part of the campus at the New York Institute of Technology in Central Islip will offer free activities during the week from 5-9 p.m. for local kids.

"We will not allow our kids to remain vulnerable out on the streets this summer without a recreational facility," said Steve Bellone, the Suffolk County Executive.

Activities will include swimming, dancing, and mentoring.

"When a kid says, "I'm bored", those are words you do not want a child to say because then that child will be tempted," said Legislator Monica Martinez, (D) Suffolk County.

Eyewitness News spoke with young people who live around the park and showed them the flyer and asked them if they would do any of these activities. They said, "Sure, why not."

"It would be great to play basketball again and do other programs," said Brandon Lambert, a Brentwood resident.

Music to Seth's ears was that they're even having basketball tournaments on Saturday mornings.

Perhaps this is all a silver lining in what people call a tragedy.

The program is available to children ages 6-18 residing in Central Islip, Brentwood, and North Bay Shore. To sign up for the program visit: Or sign up in person on July 14th from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. at the New York Institute of Technology Student Activities Center located at 300 Carleton Avenue, Brentwood. For more information contact the Suffolk County Youth Bureau at 631-853-8270.
Related Topics:
familytoxic wastesoil contaminationBrentwood
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