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Letter: Development Opposition

Not mentioned in the most recent excellent front page Port Washington News story was the fact that some other town residents who attended the July 18 Town of North Hempstead meeting opposed development because of its harm to valuable open space and flora and fauna whose home is this habitat. At the public hearing on rezoning the site, an environmental scientist who has been mapping habitats and studying biodiversity with local non-profit PW Green, David Jakim, explained that further studies need to be undertaken on the effects of the development that go beyond the objections of Harbor View residents.

Jakim stated that the lakes and wetlands to be impacted by the development stand out in his studies as the most valuable freshwater wetland habitat for waterfowl that exist on the peninsula. Secondly, Jakim said that his study of the development area (made a few days prior to the meeting) revealed a wet meadow habitat on the site of development that had not even been mentioned in Dejana’s official report, that this wetland was part of the state-protected lake and wetland complex to the north, and that this wetland should be evaluated for state protection, as its current flora and fauna qualified for such protection. Furthermore, Jakim informed the attendees that he had found over twenty species of native wetland flora in this wet meadow, again none of which were mentioned in Dejana’s environmental report.

Jakim explained (after the hearing) that among the most negative environmental impacts to the lakes and wetland complex will result from the bull-dozing of hills and filling depressions for the construction of acres of parking lots. Even with the best management practices, there will still be the erosion of soils from rain water that would negatively affect the physical, chemical, and ecological health of the lake. Just as dire to the health of the lake and surrounding wetlands would be an encroachment upon the habitat that would lead to a decline of its flora and fauna.

Without further study, the town faces the loss of unique biological communities that are largely understudied and unknown, of wetlands and water quality, of special educational opportunities, of the value of the area’s eco-tourism industry, as well as damage to the area’s scenic beauty and character. These cumulative impacts on the community will diminish the quality of life, especially for our region’s residents who lack access to any natural habitats as extensive, complex, and beautiful as the Hempstead Harbor Sand Pits.

Peggy Maslow