Roughly two years ago, longtime Keep Islip Clean volunteer William Raftery was preparing for a local KIC cleanup event when he stumbled upon a concerning scene.
Typically, the East Islip resident will stop by cleanup locations prior to the event and pull trash from beyond fences and guardrails so the garbage is easily accessible for KIC volunteers to grab.
In this instance, Raftery and his friend were walking on Overlook Drive in East Islip, along the fence line near Manistee Lane, when they noticed some trash had built up beyond the fence.
Upon further inspection, Raftery said he found what he estimated to be over 10 years’ worth of litter – well over a thousand pieces of trash – accumulated in a ravine.
“Out of sight, out of mind,” Raftery said. “I think that’s the mentality. You don’t see this from any roads.”
The large ditch, located on the cusp of East Islip and Great River, is part of a drainage system which runs beneath Heckscher State Parkway and Great River Road. Water drains just south of Bayard Cutting Arboretum and into the Connetquot River.
Though it would take several years for the trash to flow through the drainage system and into the river, it still presents a concern, Raftery said: “Every time we see a heavy rain, this stuff gets pushed a little bit farther.”
Raftery said he was unsure if the area was in state, Suffolk County or Islip Town jurisdiction, so he did not contact officials regarding the buildup.
Luckily, the environmental eyesore may soon be removed.
After The Islip Bulletin asked Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip) about the litter accumulation, he immediately notified officials from the New York State Office of Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Cilmi, who represents most of East Islip and Great River, said, “What a shame it is that the natural beauty of this area—and, for that matter, parkland all across Long Island—is befouled by litter. Not only is it visually disgusting, but in a very real way, litter is harmful to our ecology.”
He added, “It’s infuriating that some people are so disrespectful that they treat public property as their own personal garbage dump. Just bring it home with you and throw it away in a proper trash or recycling receptacle… it’s not that difficult.”
Furthermore, Brian Nearing, deputy public information officer of NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, confirmed that the area is owned by New York State. On Jan. 8, Nearing said that a crew will be sent to clean up the area sometime next week.
Raftery said he’s hopeful the issue will be addressed. He noted that he hopes the location is cleaned safely: no trees are demolished, and wildlife is kept intact.