At their meeting on Aug. 29, the Town of North Hempstead Council placed the $15 million Environmental Legacy Fund on the Nov. 7 ballot, making it subject to voter approval in a special referendum. At a public hearing on Sept. 19, many local residents and members of civic groups and environmental groups spoke in favor of the fund. Longtime resident Joan Clark said "It's about time."
If approved by voters, the fund will allocate:
* $8 million to acquire vacant or underutilized land for parks, to connect existing open space with greenways, to protect the town's ground water sources and to enhance streetscapes.
* $4 million would be allocated to improving or enhancing important and sensitive natural features such as woodlands, wetlands and natural habitats.
* $3 million would be earmarked to improve and enhance coastal and water areas.
The funds would be financed through the sale of bonds, and would cost the average household about $9 per year. Recommendations for the allocation of funds would come from a bi-partisan advisory panel. It will be made up of representatives from all parts of the town who will follow specific guidelines. The town board must also approve any purchases. The bond monies can be spent only for the purchases falling into the three categories.
After studying the town's proposal, individuals and representatives from local state and national organizations joined to form the Coalition of the Approval of the Environmental Legacy Fund. The coalition's members represent The League of Women Voters Sierra Club, North Shore Audubon Society, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, Save the Sound, New York League of Conservation Voters and The Nature Conservancy. The coalition recommends voting Yes for the fund on Nov. 7 because:
It allows the town to maintain and enhance its quality of life
Residents moved to North Hempstead not only for the high quality schools and easy commute to New York City, but for the beauty of its natural environment. Parks, open spaces and scenic beauty are a measure of community wealth and public health. Clean air and drinking water will be a priceless legacy to all the town's children. The Environmental Legacy Fund will allow us to protect, preserve and enhance our natural resources for the future.
It lets the people decide
The fund reflects the interests of the town residents for a healthy environment. In 1996, 73 percent of town voters approved the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act. Communities nearby and across the nation have passed similar open space and environmental preservation ballots with clear majorities. Approving the fund will give us the opportunity to better the environment in our own neighborhoods.
The Coalition for the Approval of the Environmental Legacy Fund