Letter To The Editor: Protect Port’s Natural Habitat

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Urgent: Attend the Town Hall Board Meeting on September 27 at 7 p.m. to Protect Port Washington’s Natural Habitat under Threat

By Dr. Laury Magnus

The Port Washington Environmental Emergency Action Network is urging all citizens to attend the next The Town Hall Board meeting on (Sept. 27, 7 p.m.) to protest the purchase of ecologically sensitive lands locally known as the “Hempstead Harbor Meadow” that is adjacent to the future Hempstead Harbor Preserve. This Town Board Agenda item should be available for public access by the week of Monday, September 24th.

The 7 acre “The Hempstead Harbor Meadow” is located on Fairview Drive, adjacent the Amsterdam Living Center and the Archangel Michael, Port Washington. The meadow consists of two lots: a 4-acre lot in the back and a 3-acre lot adjacent to the road, the latter of which is being considered for purchase by the Michael Archangel Church for the development of athletic fields or an athletic facility.

The Meadow hosts a great diversity of flora and fauna. On a survey done on August 21, 2016, David Jakim inventoried 26 species of flowering plants and observed many species of birds and butterflies, including species of conservation concern such as monarch butterflies and yellow-billed cuckoos. The development would not only harm the environment, but also the scenic viewshed of individuals living in the Amsterdam Living Complex. According to Amsterdam Resident, Betsy Budne,

Having an active field in this area would increase the traffic on Fairway Drive which is already very busy during weekends and evenings. We’re disappointed that so little notice was given prior to this meeting. We had been told that the Church was asked to reach out to the local environmental groups as well as the residents of the Amsterdam. The church has never initiated any contact, and despite promising to keep residents of the area informed of developments, they have not done so.

History repeats itself: Now, once again, people need to show up, just as they did on July 18, 2012, when more than 500 people packed the North Hempstead Town Hall to protest the development of a parking lot and diesel truck refueling station on top of what is now understood as Port Washington’s most important wetland and the center of the future 220 acre “Hempstead Harbor Preserve.” As the Port Washington News reported on p. 1 of the July 24-30th 2013 issue, “speakers representing the community accused the town of conducting a secret process, including lack of outreach to local residents who will be most affected by the proposed…project.”

For council on pressing environmental issues, contact David Jakim, Port Washington Environmental Emergency Action Network Coordination and Director of Environmental Research at the Center for Disaster Resilience Solutions, 501 (c)3 (David.Jakim@gmail.com).

1 COMMENT

  1. The church wants to purchase 3 undeveloped acres out of >220 acres (1.5%). Do they pay real estate taxes on the purchase if they’re a religious organization? I’d say “no sale” if they don’t. 2nd issue is that there’s plenty of space across the road at the Beach Park which needs re-development. Perhaps a public-private partnership could lease and use this land instead.
    Work together to solve problems.

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