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Letter: Citizen Vigilance Needed On Environmental Issues

Thanks to various community efforts, the pending expansion of the Harbor Hill Road firehouse was recently put very publicly before the residents of East Hills, as it should have been two months ago, prior to the single brief zoning board hearing that gave it the go-ahead.

Many facts were finally made available to the public. Our local environments are badly stressed, and responsible citizens need to pay attention. Maybe this woke people up a little. 

To review what is what, readers may check my website, which I previously publicized in The Roslyn News.

At this point it cannot be said that residents were not given the opportunity to exercise their democratic options.

A close reading of the Zoning Board’s decision, formalized on Monday, Aug. 22, and prominently displayed on the village website, shows that the public uproar, while transient, seems to have led to some tight rules for the new firehouse. It remains to be seen what the conditions mean in practice, or whether they will even stand.

Incidentally, the public (or the fire company) has 30 days from that decision to appeal for judicial review of it. There was no mention of additional reviews by the town or our architecture board.

The firehouse is a moderately significant environmental and governmental challenge and it is too bad it was not handled more thoughtfully and openly. Maybe next time.

In parting I urge readers, officials and the media to look at two larger environmental challenges we also face, locally and as New Yorkers, in hopes they will feel more moved by them:

• We need to somehow tame Glen Cove Road, which is a noisy, over-crowded, polluting beast that cuts our community in half and in quarters. I offer some ideas on my website, but I hope residents will also try to start a civic dialogue. It’s a good example of why and when we need effective government; and

• State protection of the Adirondack Park, which many Long Islanders treasure, is at an important juncture. The governor is choosing a new director for the already weak Adirondack Park Agency (APA), and pressure to convert forests to resorts etc. is strong in the Tea Party atmosphere that prevails upstate. Please contact your state legislators and the governor. There is a feedback form on the Governor Cuomo website, and a link from my own.     

Richard Brummel