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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

Michael Stano named to Master Teacher program

Michael Stano of Garden City High School has been named a New York State Master Teacher by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“The Master Teacher Program creates a community of teacher experts dedicated to providing a first-rate learning experience for students across New York, and contributes to our efforts to attract and retain the best and the brightest in our STEM classrooms,” Cuomo said.

Stewart Manor Fire Department to host open house

You hear the horn sound multiple times a day, around the clock, but did you ever wonder what happens during the critical moments after a distress call is made to the firehouse? Who are the volunteers who are stopped in their tracks at the sound of that horn and dash off to help a neighbor in need? You’d be surprised to learn that it could be the gentleman you see walking his dog after work in the evenings, the woman you see standing at the bus stop with her children every morning, or even the young man you used to see playing with his friends in front of your house.


Sports

Registration For The Community Garden Begins

If you are interested in obtaining a plot in Garden City Recreation and Parks’ Community Garden, it is now time to register. Applications will be accepted until May 1. Plots will then be assigned for planting around May 10. If more applications are received than the number of plots available, all applications will be put in a lottery and winners will be notified.

Spring/Summer Adult Tennis Registration Forms Available

The Garden City Recreation Department will conduct evening tennis lessons for adults who are residents of the Inc. Village of Garden City at the Community Park tennis facility. The lessons will run for one hour each week in three sessions during the spring/summer months. The registrant has a choice of a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday class and a choice of time. There will be a maximum of four players per court. The dates and fees will be as follows:

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.


Calendar

Going To The Birds (Sanctuary)

Saturday, April 26

Nassau Coaches Meet

Saturday, April 26

Making A Beautiful Noise

Friday, May 2



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