Dedicated to preserving, protecting, and restoring the 423 acres of woodlands, ponds, and wetlands that border Massapequa Creek for nearly 4 miles in the heart of Massapequa, the Friends of Massapequa Preserve highlighted their fifth anniversary on Sept. 15 by inviting representatives from the Massapequa Fire Department, Nassau County Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Nassau County Police Department to share with the local community information about their activities in the Preserve, and to answer questions about issues of concern.
The meeting started promptly at 7:15 p.m. when friends President Richard Schary took to the podium to welcome more than 50 citizens gathered in attendance at the Massapequa Public Library. Local representatives from the fire, parks, and police departments were then introduced and allowed the floor to highlight initiatives taken by their respective departments to deal with problems in the Preserve and field questions from the community.
First to address the crowd was the Massapequa Fire Department, whose representatives stated that one of the more serious threats to the integrity of the Preserve is arson. While most fires in the Preserve tend to be small affairs set by teenagers, the fire department stressed that even small fires can get out of hand and that the best form of fire prevention comes in the form of residents and park goers alerting the police and fire departments to any signs of smoke or suspicious activity. Allaying the concerns of residents bordering the Massapequa Preserve, the Fire Department discussed its many ways of reaching the deeper parts of the preserve by using brush trucks, floating pumps, high-powered hoses, and other special equipment designed to penetrate the woods. The Massapequa Fire Department can be reached at 798-0040.
Following the Fire Department and representing the Nassau County Department of Parks and Recreation, county arborist James Caracciolo discussed the recent implementation of a Preserve tree crew, whose duties include pruning trees, removing dead trees, and removing broken and dangerous limbs. In the event that the tree crew cannot remove a tree, the County will enlist the services of a private requirements contractor with the equipment and the ability necessary to remove larger trees. The main concern expressed by residents was the danger of broken or rotten limbs falling and possibly injuring someone. Caracciolo's response was that if one should see any potentially dangerous vegetation in the Preserve that they should contact his office or the Friends of Massapequa Preserve immediately.
Finally, the Nassau County Police Department rounded out the night's speakers by updating residents on how their department is dealing with issues and problems surrounding the Preserve. In order to counteract the nuisance of petty crimes being committed by teens in the park after hours, the police department has ramped up its youth patrol by handing out tickets to anyone under age that is in the Preserve after dark. The representing officer stated that their biggest problems in the Preserve stem from problem youth and include underage drinking, vandalism, destruction of property, and arson. As with the two previous speakers, the officer urged that should anyone see any sort of suspicious activity then the best thing to do would be to contact the appropriate authorities.
After the speakers made their case and were allowed appropriate time to answer questions from the audience Schary concluded the meeting with another short question and answer session to help allay any more concerns on the part of the community. He stressed the importance of an ongoing and open dialogue between the Friends of Massapequa Preserve, the local departments, and the community and stated, "This is the first time we have had a meeting which brought together the Massapequa Fire Department, Nassau County Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Nassau County Police Department to demonstrate our commitment to working together to solve the problems of the preserve." Highlighting their activism in the Preserve, Schary went on to state that Friends, in accordance with their mission to protect, preserve, and restore, has "helped identify and clean up over 50 problem spots in the Preserve and will continue to do so." Echoing the sentiments of the previous speakers, Schary urged that the most important thing residents can do to maintain the integrity of the Preserve is to contact the appropriate local agencies in the event of any sort of problem, "Once a problem is brought to our attention, we won't let any area of the Preserve get our of our control." For further information, or to report any problems, the Friends of Massapequa Preserve can be contacted at 541-2461.