BY JOE SCOTCHIE
The Roslyn School District has moved quickly address reports of possible illegal dumping by a Long Island contractor, one that took place over the summer at The Heights School.
The school, which is in the midst of an ambitious renovation project, was subject to a “truckload” of recycled concrete. Once the dumping came to light, Roslyn Schools Superintendent Allison Brown, moved to assure school district residents that the contractor would be held accountable.
“The school district has been made aware of an enforcement action taken against construction contractors by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Suffolk County District Attorney,” the letter began. “The district was only indirectly and briefly involved in this matter, but because we have been informed that our instance is part of a wider investigation that may soon be made public, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain exactly what happened as it applies to the district and to allay any concerns for our community in that regard.
“Last June, as capital projects were under way at the Heights School, a material supplier for the general contractor delivered a load of recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) on school grounds. This material is typically composed of old concrete from sidewalks, pavement, curbing and similar infrastructure. While the supplier was indeed working for our general contractor, the product was not being used on our project.
“Unbeknownst to the district, the DEC and law enforcement had been conducting an investigation relative to certain construction contractors, and chose that particular time to initiate an investigative action against the delivery truck. Because this was part of an ongoing law enforcement action, the district was directed by the DEC to leave the load of RCA in place and to refrain from communicating about the matter at that time. Out of an abundance of caution, the district immediately:
• Covered the material with a tarp;
• Cordoned off the area;
• Placed guards at the site to prevent anyone from accessing it; and
• Hired an independent environmental firm to test the composition of the product and to take air samples.
“The results of the testing in June indicated the material was not hazardous. Air quality samples were normal,” the letter continued. “In July, the DEC informed us that we could have the contractor remove the material and that no remediation was required. Our construction manager promptly directed the contractor to remove the material, in coordination with DEC. All costs associated with this matter, including testing, are the responsibility of the general contractor.
“While no hazard was posed to our community, it seems clear that something unusual and potentially illicit was suspected, and thus we greatly appreciate the efforts by the DEC and law enforcement. We will continue to offer our full assistance in any ongoing investigations by the authorities.”
According to published reports, Modern Leasing of Bay Shore faces charges in the incident ranging from felony criminal mischief to misdemeanor operation of a solid waste management facility without a permit. Published reports also stated that materials dumped at the school came from the Durante Bros Construction Corp., Flushing. However, prosecutors told the media that the firm was not charged “specifically” with the material delivered to the Heights School.