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Hope And Renewal In Mid-Winter

Environmental center celebrates Fifth Annual Winterfest

On Saturday, Jan. 12, the Tanner Pond Environmental Center/Garden City Bird Sanctuary commemorated its Fifth Annual Winterfest.

A self-created holiday meant to retell the story of the bird sanctuary and honor those who have donated trees in honor of someone else and those whom they were planted for, this event also represents hope and renewal in the dead of winter.

Symbolism was rampant, as roughly 20 people formed a circle around a fir strewn with gold garland and dedicated to the memory of Curt Hoera. With a nip in the air and the overcast sky giving way to dusk, a solitary cardinal chirped as John Cronin, the current president of the board of trustees, handed out candles that were to be lit as the ceremony proceeded. In doing so, he also explained the inspiration for this annual event.

“[Rob] took this space that was basically a storm water basin/garbage dump and did a tremendous thing with it,” said Cronin. “I thought that in honor of what Rob has done and what he represents, this would be a way that each year we could tell how the traits he possesses make this a better place.”

The man he was referring to was longtime Garden City resident Rob Alvey, a current geologist for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Manhattan office. An inventory that he did of the village’s green space back in 1992,  when he was appointed to the Village of Garden City Environmental Board, eventually led to this storm water basin being officially proclaimed the Garden City Bird Sanctuary in 1996.

Since then, it has become environmental oasis smack dab in the middle of suburbia that has allowed birders to catch sight of species ranging from warblers and Scarlet Tanagers to Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Saw-whet Owls. It’s also home to one of the last remaining acres of the once-massive Hempstead Plains, a tract of land that at one time stretched from the Queens border all the way out to western Suffolk County.  

Beyond its biological significance, this nine-acre piece of green space has served as an outdoor classroom and an area tailor-made for local Scout projects, with three Girls Scouts earning Girl Scout Gold Awards and 20 Boy Scouts attaining Eagle status dating back to 1995. Currently an educator in the Stewart Elementary School, Cronin has been involved with the bird sanctuary since August 2000, when he took a position on the board of directors. As a teacher, he took his science classes on trips to this site and in the process, saw the important educational benefits that come from having such a unique place in the village.

“It’s important because [young people] get to see the importance of environmental conservation, preserving green space for tomorrow,” he explained. “This used to literally be a dump, so if they get to see a place like this, they get to see what nature has to offer. How beautiful it is and why we need to conserve it for the future.”

Being a non-profit means that volunteers are the engine that keep the bird sanctuary going from its March opening all the way through to when it closes on Thanksgiving. And while the damage was minimal from Hurricane Sandy, much of the clean-up couldn’t have been done without the efforts of people willing to put a few hours and some sweat equity into this project. It’s something Alvey admits is crucial to the sanctuary’s survival. Especially when roughly $11 is spent for every $10 the site receives in donations and grants.

“The biggest asset we have, which is hard to put a dollar figure on, is the literally hundreds of people that volunteer, work out there and donate their time. That’s where it really makes the difference,” he said. “The money doesn’t sound like that much. We’ve gotten $150,000 in donated labor services and I have two grants from New York State that I have had to document each hour of service committed and credited at seven dollars an hour. And it does add up.”

News

April 19 fundraiser to be

held for baby with rare disease

Tom Onorato, the nephew and office manager of Dr. Joseph Onorato Garden City practice All Island Dermatology Plastic Surgery & Laser Center, recently celebrated the birth of a baby boy with his wife Melissa. Both were thrilled when Thomas Kevin Onorato came into the world on September 10, 2013. Despite being born five weeks early, baby Thomas managed to surprise his parents with his indomitable spirit and was sent home with a clean bill of health. A mere four days later began the fight for Thomas’ life.

Budget adjustments, staff reductions recommended

The Garden City Board of Education will prepare to adopt next year’s school budget in a couple of weeks. Before they do, they’ll have to go over a few changes.

At the board’s public work session held at the high school on Wednesday, April 9, school superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen recommended a few adjustments, part of the annual balancing act that is the school budget.


Sports

Easter Egg Hunt For Pre-K To Grade 5

The Garden City Recreation Department is once again sponsoring the annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19 at Community Park’s fields. This Year Three hunt will be held at 10 a.m. sharp with three age divisions: preschool to kindergarten, grades 1 and 2; and grades 3 to 5.

Special eggs will be stuffed and hidden for all divisions. Each hunt will also feature a grand prize (an Easter basket filled with goodies) which will go to the youngster who finds the egg marked “#1 Lucky Egg.” For further information about the hunt, please call the recreation department at 516-465-4075.

Commitment at Kellenberg

Garden City residents continue to excel while participating in the athletic program over at Uniondale’s Kellenberg Memorial High School.

Each season, coaches of Kellenberg sports pick one player from their squad who has demonstrated remarkable commitment to the team through their hard work at practice and in competition.

The Village of Garden City has a long history of residents who've excelled both on the academic and athletic side of the ledger at Kellenberg. This time around, seniors Kelly O’Donnell (varsity cheerleading), Stacy Madelmayer (varsity girls basketball) and Bryan Salecker (swimming and diving team) have all been awarded the Commitment Award for their outstanding efforts, devotion, hard work and commitment to their respective teams.


Calendar

Dinner & A Movie: In Transition 2.0

Thursday, April 17

School Budget Meeting

Wednesday, April 23

Judi Mark One-woman Show At Library

Thursday, April 24



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com