Joseph H. Lorintz, recently nominated as the Democratic candidate for Oyster Bay Town supervisor, has resigned his position as president of the Society to Preserve Underhill. He will be succeeded by the Republic Deputy Mayor of Malverne, Donald Pupke.
Lorintz, who has led the effort to preserve the Underhill property, an 81-acre tract of environmentally sensitive land in Jericho, for five years, said he was resigning Úquot;to keep politics out of the preservation effort.Úquot; Environmentalists are trying to save the land from a proposed 270-unit housing project. The land sits atop one of only two state-designated Special Groundwater Protection Areas in Nassau County. SGPAS protect underground drinking water supplies from contaminants generated by development.
Úquot;Preservation of Underhill has been a bi-partisan effort for more than a decade,Úquot; Pupke said. Úquot;What better demonstration of this fact than to have a Democrat turn over the reins to a Republican,Úquot; he added.
Pupke said he would reach out to elected officials on town, county and state levels to press for a multi-level acquisition of Underhill. Elected officials of both parties have pledged a collective effort to purchase the land from the Tilles organization. It has been appraised at nearly $20 million, but the owner is seeking nearly twice that amount. Úquot;It's time that government made a firm commitment to purchase this property,Úquot; Pupke said, Úquot;And it's time that serious negotiations get underway.Úquot;
About his departure, Lorintz explained, Úquot;Preserving Underhill is too important an objective to see it compromised by the sometimes nasty world of politics. No responsible government official should use it as a political football and I don't want to be accused of that either. I have every confidence that Don Pupke will continue this effort and see it through to successful preservation.Úquot;