Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Parks Is Parks

Guest Bloggers, Tom Suozzi, The Nassau County Exec, And Bruce Piel, Chair of PARCnassau, Dig In On Park Clean-Up

From the County Executive:

Dear Neighbor,

Let's stop the litter! We have cleaned up the County's government, now let's clean up the County.

On Saturday, October 22nd, we are organizing a major cleanup in our County's largest preserves and we need your help. On that day we will be focusing on Cow Meadow Preserve in Freeport, the Massapequa Preserve in Massapequa, Mill Pond Preserve in Wantagh, Roosevelt/Rev. Mackey Park and Preserve in Roosevelt, Tackapausha Preserve in Seaford/Massapequa, Tanglewood Preserve in Lakeview, Garvies Point in Glen Cove, Welwyn Preserve in Glen Cove, Stillwell Woods in Syosset and Sands Point Preserve in Sands Point.

Phase 1 of our Nassau County Parks Come-Back Campaign has been a major success. The comprehensive renovation work of our largest park facilities is complete and the public response has been fantastic. We are now in the process of Phase 2 of our Parks Come-Back Campaign and we need your help.

The Parks Department has been hard at work all summer long fixing the trails, putting down new plantings, as well as doing much more hard work, however, we need your help in removing litter and other debris.

If you are interested in joining me, your neighbors and the Parks' staff on Saturday, October 22nd at 9:00 a.m., please call 516-572-0218, e-mail me (through the website) at www.co.nassau.ny.us/agencies/parks/cleanup.html, and let us know where you would like to be situated that day.

Thank you for your interest and I look forward to seeing you on the 22nd.

Tom Suozzi
County Executive
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And now, a counterpark, of sorts, from Bruce Piel of PARCnassau:

We sent out the following e-mail on August 8th concerning the politicization of volunteer cleanups in Nassau County Preserves and Passive Parks:

"County administration has directed Park Department management including individual park directors to solicit, importune, suggest and otherwise pressure Park User and Advocacy Groups to schedule volunteer cleanups of county parks for October of this year. How convenient, just before the election!

You know how this works, well meaning citizens gather for community service, the parks department drops off some rakes, shovels and plastic trash bags and like locusts, incumbent politicians flock to the scene wearing their designer jeans, hold a shovel or rake for 15 minutes and get their photo op for campaign literature. They also take credit for the cleanup with minimal acknowledgement of the taxpayers who do all the work.

While we fully support citizen volunteers and involvement in county parks, this blatant misuse of community service we find abhorrent! Our county parks do need some TLC from people who care since most of those same politicians do not. So what we are asking all PARCnassau groups to do is to schedule cleanups for county parks one or two weeks AFTER the election. Not only will this de-politicize this activity but conditions for manual labor in the parks improve.

Mosquitos, ticks and other little "nasties" have begun to die off lessening the chance for West Nile Virus, Lymes Disease and overall discomfort affecting the volunteers, though everyone should dress appropriately anyway. The weather should be cooler, foliage should be less making the locating and collecting of trash easier and more efficient.

So please, do volunteer for park cleanups, not for the politicians in October, but in November for the community those parks serve. See you then."

Well, the administration is moving ahead on this bad idea under the direction of Ian Siegel, CE Suozzi's aide de camp. It is scheduled for Saturday, October 22nd (just before the election) and involves 9 facilities. Interestingly 5 of them already have volunteer groups that have been maintaining them all along. In addition, no such coordinated effort has been used for the past 3 years, so why now? The answer is obvious. Using well meaning citizen volunteers for political gain is, we believe, wrong. We urge the county and park administration to reschedule all cleanup activity for after the General Election on November 8th.

Bruce Piel,
Park Advocacy & Recreation Council of Nassau (PARCnassau)
246 Twin Lane East
Wantagh, NY 11793-1963
(516) 783-8378
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Editor's Note: While we hear where PARCnassau is coming from, let's not discount the good efforts of community volunteers, the real work horses who have kept our parks and public facilities up and running, particularly during the Gulotta years, where care was nonexistent, and maintenance was a four-letter word.

Though there remains much to be done in terms of the beautification and physical improvement of our County parks - and in particular, those parks categorized as "passive" - even PARCnassau must admit that the Suozzi administration has made quantum leaps, examining the situation both in light of the utter neglect of the previous administration and standing on the merit of the Nassau County Parks Come-Back Campaign.

Are the projects politicized? You bet. Long on photos and short on action? No question. That's been a way of life since the camera and the press release were invented. Put on a hard hat, pick up a shovel, smile for the camera, and move on to the next venue. Is this right? Of course not. Add it to the list of things in this life that are simply unfair.

There needs to be a balance between public relations and the public good. Unfortunately, we are not quite there just yet.

As for postponing park clean-ups scheduled in the summer and fall until after Election Day, were we in Florida or the Carolinas, we might agree. To wait until winter in New York to clean-up our parks, however, would be to stand all reason on head. In fact, we're surprised no one has thought of it before! LOL

Our thanks to everyone - from County Parks workers to the park volunteers - who help keep our parks green and clean. Keep up the good work!


  1. Of Course the Editor's Note would have to say that " In the Gulotta years" ???

    How long has Tom Souzzi been in Office???

    Guess Tom Gulotta is still to blame for the poor conditions in the parks???

    PARC Nassau is absolutely correct schedule the volunteer cleanups for after election day and see how many politicians show up???

    Is this just another Political Stunt you bet it is!!!

    Let's all volunteer to do what the County Parks Department is supposed to do on a daily basis that's keep the parks CLEAN!!!

    Hey I got it maybe Tom Souzzi can make everyone "Seasonal" workers to help clean up!!!

    I know I can sure use $25 to $75 per hour as a "NO SHOW" seasonal worker!!

    How easily everyone forgets that one; but then I guess the editor would find someway of tying KATE MURRAY into that one???

    Because we all know that Tom Souzzi has "Cleaned Up" the Nassau County Government, but fell short on cleaning up the Parks which is a public issue.

    Gotta love it keep these posts going I so enjoy reading and responding to them.

  2. While on the subject of County parks, allow me to share an observation I made last Sunday. As I spent the early afternoon at Eisenhower Park with my kids, a couple Parks Dept. personnel drove slowly by (I'm not sure what exactly they were doing - perhaps patrolling or something) in an 8-10 year-old Chevy Suburban. A few minutes later, I noticed a public safety officer patrolling in an 8-10 year-old Jeep Cherokee. Needless to say, both these vehicles get woefully poor gas mileage. Of all available cars, is there really a need for our Parks Dept. workers to be driving around in these gas-guzzling monstrosities? The Chevy Suburban gets an estimated 13 MPG while the Jeep Cherokee gets a measly 15 MPG! After all, I feel the current Exxon-Mobile boycott we're all involved in is worthless when I realize that our county tax money is flowing into the gas tanks of these cars, and by extension, into the pockects of bil oil.

    The County can certainly take a cue from the TOH who recently applied for and received 77 free electric cars as part of a pilot program on conservation. (see related article http://www.americancityandcounty.com/mag/government_finding_fuel_alternatives/). The vehicles are now deployed throughout the Town Parks Dept, and undoubtedly saving TOH taxpayers a ton of money and all the while helping cut down on pollution.

    It's nice that Tom Suozzi is soliciting help from the outside by touting a volunteer parks cleanup program, but I'm afraid the real problems with the County parks dept. lies within an evidently broken system - a system that can't even muster the initiative to adopt a win-win strategy all around - for the county, for taxpayers, and for the environment!

  3. Kudos, indeed, to the Town of Hempstead, not only on the procurement and use of those electric cars, but moreover, on the impeccable manner in which the Town cares for and maintains its parks, beaches and public recreation facilities.

    We have said for the record, time and time again, that the TOH has the most beautiful, well-managed parks. Indeed, we've implored the Town to take over the operation and control of some of the County's so-called "passive" parks, including the local community parks which, by all reason, should fall under the Town's mandate.

    We can't - and we won't - fault the Town of Hempstead (or, for that matter, Supervisor Murray) for the County's past failures and present shortcomings. And we will (as we have on an ongoing basis), praise Town Hall for getting the job done and doing it right at the Town's parks and beaches.

    Should we expect no less - of both Town and County - on the myriad other quality of life concerns that impact upon our hamlets, villages and unincorporated areas? We think not. The time has come to revitalize and re-energize our "downtowns" and "Main Streets" with the same vigor that the Town has (and the County purports to) hit the beaches and parks!