"Keep Islip Clean" organizing highway cleanups

Randall Waszynski
Posted 2/27/20

Addressing the litter on the major roadways in the Town of Islip is an integral aspect of the mission Keep Islip Clean’s membership not only preaches but practices, too. The Long Island …

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"Keep Islip Clean" organizing highway cleanups

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Addressing the litter on the major roadways in the Town of Islip is an integral aspect of the mission Keep Islip Clean’s membership not only preaches but practices, too. The Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway — as well as their applicable service roads and entrance and exit ramps — were discussed at KIC’s meeting last Thursday at Brookwood Hall.

KIC’s director Nancy Cochran said that the group’s treasurer and the commissioner for Central Islip, Susan Pellegrino, is experienced at navigating various levels of government to get things done in this regard.

“[Pellegrino’s] superpower is figuring out who is responsible for what,” Cochran said.

Pellegrino explained that, through her conversations with county officials, an entity’s ownership of a roadway does not necessarily entail the responsibility of various aspects of upkeep like litter cleanup, as well as snow plowing and applying road markings.

“The challenging thing about the litter along roadways is [which] level of government’s responsibility it is. It is very dicey, and that is part of the frustration,” said Pellegrino, adding that there is at least one particular section of the LIE in which its service roads are owned by New York but maintained by Suffolk County.

Although the service roads are the responsibility of the county, the state takes the reins on exit and entrance ramps, according to the county Department of Public Works. It is also notable that the underpasses below the LIE and Sunrise Highway on county-owned roads are maintained by the state.

Pellegrino recalls recently driving on the north service road between exits 58 and 57 on the LIE, a stretch that she often traverses. Here, she saw a group of individuals cleaning up litter on the side of the road. Although she initially thought they were county workers, it turns out they were a group of volunteers.

“We do not really care who is doing it, as long as someone is doing it,” said Pellegrino, adding that she encourages persistence toward the responsible entity of any given spot. “It has been a huge improvement.”

In addition to the discussion of the LIE and Sunrise Highway, it was pointed out that the Oakdale Merge marks the parallel Montauk Highway’s change of ownership from state (to the west) and county (to the east). Cochran pointed out that this is notable when considering which entity is responsible for a cleanup.

“It is the Main Street of all these little towns,” she said.

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