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Plans are under way to enhance the Manorhaven preserve with trails and plantings. The trail system will extend from Manhasset Avenue to Manorhaven Boulevard.

The Village of Manorhaven hosted a public meeting to display preliminary plans for the Manorhaven Preserve and to receive public input. The seven and -1/2-acre preserve, purchased many years ago under a previous administration, runs roughly from Manhasset Avenue to Manorhaven Boulevard adjacent to Sheets Creek North. The village received a $50,000 planning grant from the Environmental Legacy Fund to redesign the preserve. The firm of Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, who were selected through an rfp (request for proposals) process, presented their recommendations at the meeting.

Sara Da Silva, an environmental scientist representing Nelson, Pope, said, "We have a vision of open space, unique ecology, diverse native habitats, wildlife viewing, trail networks, and educational opportunities." She added that they also wanted to acknowledge the historic character of the area, which in the 1800s included a shellfish farming industry in Manhasset Bay and sand and gravel mining in the 19th and 20th centuries.

According to Da Silva, a major goal of the preserve is to conserve open space and protect existing wetlands and upland habitats. They also aim to enhance the condition of existing resources and to engage in shoreline restoration and revegetation. A major thrust of her remarks had to do with the encouraging of "native" (plant) species and control or elimination of "invasive" species.

Da Silva gave a "walk-through" (figuratively speaking) of the entire preserve, detailing the preliminary plans for each area. At the trail head on Manorhaven Boulevard is a gazebo and parking area (existing). Pet lovers will be pleased to know that a dog run is planned and that pets are allowed throughout the trails on a leash. The plans provide for a garbage receptacle and a "pooper scooper" station. Foot trails, two of which will be handicapped-accessible, will include educational signage, and there will be viewing blinds for those who want to observe birds or other wildlife and benches on which to rest. An observation deck will be located on the east side of the property, fully accessible from the main trail and the foot path. "It's a beautiful view," said Da Silva. The trail system is integrated with the "shore-to-shore" trail system and the Bay Walk.

In what Da Silva described as the main central area of the site there will be a wet meadow. She said that they plan to excavate a shallow depression, and reseed with native grasses and wildflowers. She said, "This is another opportunity for more wildlife."

Another feature of the preserve plans is a provision to ameliorate some of the stormwater runoff that now finds its way into Sheets Creek from Manhasset Avenue. Da Silva commented, "One of the things we would like to do is to create a system for catching some of the stormwater to allow retention of natural water and allow the natural vegetation to clean the water." She added that they are working with the Town of North Hempstead to work on the other parts of Sheets Creek and create a design that will prevent some of the sediment from washing away with the tide.

There is also an opportunity for an educational organic garden near the parking lot featuring raised beds, vegetable and flower cultivation, nursery stock seeding program, and interpretive native wildflowers. Da Silva said, "This is an option if the community wants it." She added, "It is working very well in New York City."

A lively discussion followed the formal presentation. One resident was concerned about people "hanging out" in the preserve. Da Silva pointed out that people are using the area now, and the more people that use it, the less this will be a problem. Another expressed a desire that the main trail be totally baby carriage accessible. One resident questioned the utility of a community garden in an area where everybody has their own garden. Da Silva responded that not everyone has a garden, especially in Manorhaven where there are a lot of renters, but that it is entirely up to the community if they want it. She added that another possibility is to have a demonstration garden, for example, run by a place like Cornell Extension, in lieu of community participation. Another expressed concern was the need for ongoing maintenance.

This reporter raised the question about the firm's plans to replace mature "invasive" trees with saplings in view of the environmental benefits of mature trees. Da Silva responded, "It will be a gradual process."

Da Silva said that the next step is to work with the DEC and other approving agencies. She said that they hope to begin trails construction by the end of the year. She said that the implementation of all the plans will be in phases, and will most likely take one to two years.

Manorhaven Mayor Nicholas Capozzi and former Deputy Mayor Jennifer Wilson Pines said that there will be other opportunities for the public to comment on the plans for the preserve.


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