Monday, November 26, 2007

Friends of the Massapequa Preserve

Preserving Open Space And Parkland And Keeping Nassau's County Parks In Nassau

We all need friends.

Thankfully, the Massapequa Preserve -- among Nassau County's finest parklands -- has plenty of them.

The President of the Friends of the Massapequa Preserve, Richard Shary, graces The Community Alliance blog with this update and invite.

Let's all become friends of our parks, helping to keep Nassau County green and clean!
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Dear Friends,

Please join us on our seventh anniversary for a very important open meeting on Thursday, November 29, 7:30 P.M. at the Bar Harbour branch of the Massapequa Public Library. The library is at 40 Harbor Lane, one block south of Merrick Road.

We have two major issues impacting Massapequa Preserve that need to be shared with everyone:

First, representatives from the Nassau County Dept. of Public Works (D.P.W.) will be on hand to explain, and answer your questions, about their multi-year, six million dollar stream enhancement and pond restoration project, scheduled to begin inside the Preserve in the spring. This massive construction project will necessitate the temporary closing of some access points, parking areas, and portions of the Preserve. Bicycle and foot traffic will have to be rerouted to alternate routes. The paved bikeway from Sunrise Highway north to Linden Street will be torn up, section by section, and completely rebuilt. Massapequa Creek and some of the ponds in the Preserve will be partially dredged.

Several concerned Preserve visitors have asked us if this project can be stopped, and we've had to answer with a firm "No"; restoration was agreed to under a consent decree signed by the County with the Federal government decades ago, when Nassau put their sewer system in the area. Fortunately, Friends has established a strong working relationship with Nassau County from our very beginning. We have worked very hard to keep the lines of communication open, and we are working with the D.P.W.; we're both trying to ensure that this massive project proceeds with a minimum of disruption and damage to the Preserve and the surrounding community.

Our organization has requested, and been assured, that advance notice of any pathway closings or detours will be placed in the media, on signs posted at all entrances, and on the County's website. We have also been promised that a 24-hour number will be posted in case problems arise during construction, and that user groups will be notified in advance of all trail closings and detours.

We've been working extra hard behind the scenes to try to make sure that the largest public works project ever undertaken in a County preserve runs as smoothly as possible. The Friends are merely volunteers, and we don't want to be bombarded with complaints if the contractor hired by the D.P.W. messes up. It's up to the D.P.W. to do their part, but thanks to all of you, they know that there will be hundreds of "eyes and ears" out there watching them every step of the way.

The second major issue we will discuss is Nassau County's proposal to transfer the entire Preserve, and several other parks and preserves, to the Town of Oyster Bay. What impact will this have on both the future of the Preserve and those who currently use it?

The County is currently in the process of transferring nine parks to the Town of North Hempstead; we seem to be the only county in this country trying to get rid of parks! Our preserves are "forever wild" and have no buildings to maintain, no plumbing or electricity to fix.

How much money are taxpayers going to save by giving away our preserves, which don't even have any designated employees? Our volunteers have completed dozens of cleanups, Eagle scout, and community service projects.

On a yearly basis, we work more hours in the Preserve than County Parks? workers. Maintaining the Preserve costs the County between $1,000 and $3,000 a year, or about five bucks an acre! Right now, Nassau is spending $150 million in bond money to improve our parks and buy open space (for over 1/2 million dollars an acre). Nassau's also going to spend over six million dollars restoring the Preserve. Why are we giving it away? What's the real agenda here? Nassau has a set of laws and regulations to protect its parks from illegal activities.

The Town of Oyster Bay has no encroachment laws for its parks, no A.T.V. laws, and no parks protocol to protect preserves. They've never even had a perpetual preserve to protect. Our open meeting will explore the many disturbing questions raised by this supposed "consolidation" of resources; we will consider other possible unintended consequences, such as some residents' sudden loss of control and reduced access to our parks, and new athletic fields being bulldozed into the woods.

Friends has spent the past seven years establishing strong partnerships that have, for the first time in decades, finally succeeded in bringing the Preserve under control; readers of the Long Island Press voted Massapequa Preserve the Best Nature Walk and Best Nature Preserve on Long Island for the past two years.

Please bring your family members, friends, and neighbors on November 29th -- we need as many people as possible who care about keeping Massapequa Preserve "forever wild" to stand up and be counted.

If you are a member of the Friends of Massapequa Preserve, it's been at least a year since you joined or renewed your membership. We warmly appreciate your past support, and remind you that it?s time to renew your annual dues. When you join or renew, you will get a free copy of our acclaimed documentary video. Even if you already have the video, you can get an extra copy to play on your DVD player or computer, or to share the beauty of the Preserve with your friends, family, neighbors, or interest group.

If you haven't seen our inspirational video yet, you don't know what you're missing. At this time of the year, give yourself and your neighbors a special holiday gift by investing in the future of Massapequa Preserve. We rely on the continued support of our members, the "eyes and ears" of the Preserve.

We gratefully thank, in advance, each and every one of you for all we have accomplished in the past seven years. We're looking forward to seeing you on November 29. Have a happy holiday and healthy new year. If you haven't done so lately, walk, run, skate, jog, or bike through the Preserve. I've been going there for 33 years and even though some problems remain, I've never seen it in better condition!

Richard Schary, President
Friends of Massapequa Preserve
P.S. Be sure to see our stunning photo display on exhibit during the month of November at both Massapequa Public Library buildings, and don't forget to pick up a copy of our brochure when you visit the library.

Call Nassau County Public Safety's 24-hour hotline: (516) 572-0300

To contact Friends of Massapequa Preserve, write to us at 90 Pennsylvania Ave., Massapequa, NY 11758 or Call: (516) 541-2461; E-mail:
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  1. where can I find information about the current project andwhat the changes are going to accomplish?

  2. For more information, contact Bruce Piel, Chairman, Park Advocacy & Recreation Council of Nassau, 246 Twin Lane East, Wantagh, NY 11793
    (516) 783-8378