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Shirley Siegal, Activist and Environmentalist, Dies at 85

Led Great Neck League of Women Voters, Fought for Clean Water

Longtime Great Neck resident and community activist Shirley Siegal died on Nov. 4. She was 85-years-old. Ms. Siegal was deeply involved in numerous aspects of community life and was well-known as a dedicated environmentalist.

Active in the League of Women voters, and a leader in Great Neck as well as League president, Ms. Siegel was involved when Citizens Water Supply owned the water system. She was instrumental in holding many public meetings in the early 1980s and held Citizens accountable for overpumping at that time. She was also instrumental in efforts to require Citizens to develop a plan for addressing saltwater intrusion. As a result, Ms. Siegal helped pave the way for Citizens Water Supply to develop an aggressive backflow program long before this was a popular concept, long before it was required.

Water, clean, pure water, became a true passion with Shirley Siegal. She developed a core group, including local public officials and local environmentalists such as the late Julian Kane. And these were the people whom she turned to, the ones who worked with her to address issues impacting on the environment, especially those affecting the water sources. She and her fellow environmentalists worked hour after hour developing a position regarding ground water.

Ms. Siegal was also a major player in the controversial issues surrounding the Lockheed Martin site, now iPark. She is remembered as one of the first to become aware of the contamination issues and the extent of the contamination problems at that site.

Shirley Siegal was also a key person in the case involving the environmental issues surrounding the Stanton Cleaner site in Great Neck. She addressed contamination issues that were left unanswered for many years.

Most recently, Ms. Siegal took a strong position regarding the need to consolidate and upgrade our sewer treatment facilities on East Shore Road. She fought very hard against diverting sewage to the South Shore’s Cedar Creek facility. Nassau County’s sewage system is in financial and environmental trouble needing huge amounts of capital expenditures with even talk of privatization now. We can thank Ms. Siegal and others with foresight for steering clear of the county’s problems and instead building a state-of- the-art treatment facility with high environmental standards.

According to former Water Authority of Great Neck North Superintendent Robert Graziano, Ms. Siegal “worked tirelessly” during the years she served as a director of the Authority. Ms. Siegal represented the Town of North Hempstead for many years. “She never hesitated to take a position on unpopular issues,” Mr. Graziano stated. “Shirley spoke with facts and numbers, always well-prepared to back up her position,” he added.

And Mr. Graziano noted that all of Shirley Siegal’s work on behalf of the Water Authority “is still a very big part of the Water Authority’s success.” He said that she was always prepared to discuss the environment, saltwater intrusion and reducing pumping “to save our wells.”

Looking back fondly, Mr. Graziano remembered the cookies Shirley Siegal brought to Water Authority employees at Hanukkah and at Christmas, “each decorated appropriately” for each holiday.

“Shirley Siegal will be missed; she was a special lady,” said Mr. Graziano.

Shirley Siegal is survived by her husband Dr. Phillip Siegel, her children and grandchildren.