Sunday, March 18, 2007

Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Supports Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor's County Open Space Bond Nominations

The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association has lent its support to a Nassau County Open Space Bond application submitted to the county by the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor. The application nominates several properties around Hempstead Harbor for open space acquisition, including the fully remediated propane field in Glenwood Landing. The propane field was recommend and accepted for acquisition under the first county bond act, but money was not appropriated to move forward with purchase.

For some reason, the county has required that properties accepted for acquistion under its last open space bond act but not purchased be renominated under the second bond. The propane field also has been accepted for acquisition under both of the Town of Oyster Bay's open space bonds, and TOB has received a state grant to direct to funding and reclamation of the property. Thus, several funding sources are in place. The holdup is anybody's guess. We understand that TOB also may have refiled an application for public acquisition of the propane field under the current county bond act.

Acquisition of the propane field and other Glenwood Landing waterfront properties would be consistent with the Glenwood Landing Waterfront Revitalization and Redevelopment Plane, the Water Quality Improvement Plan for Hempstead Harbor, and the Hempstead Harbor Management Plan. In addition, establishing a Glenwood Landing Waterfront Greenway is a specific priority cited in the New York State Open Space Plan, thanks largely to the efforts of the civic association and the support of the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor and the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee.

Text of Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor's nomination letter

The Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor is pleased to have an opportunity to nominate four waterfront parcels of land along Hempstead Harbor for open-space acquisition and support the nominations for two other waterfront parcels. The acquisition of these parcels would be the most aggressive and significant action taken to date to help improve the water quality of Hempstead Harbor, improve and preserve the local habitat for marine life, birds, and other wildlife, and enhance the quality of life for over 46,000 residents who live in the communities immediately surrounding Hempstead Harbor, including Sands Point, Flower Hill, Roslyn, Roslyn Harbor, Glenwood Landing, Glen Head, Sea Cliff, and Glen Cove, as well as for thousands more in adjacent communities and beyond who work around Hempstead Harbor or use the harbor as a recreational resource.

Our nominations are for the Shore Realty property at Mott's Cove, the adjacent Glen Harbor property (formerly the Harbor Fuel site (aka HinFin property) south of the KeySpan plant on the southeast shore of Hempstead Harbor, the Gladsky property (marine salvage and marina) north of the KeySpan plant, and the Sea Isle property on the south side of Glen Cove Creek and adjacent to Brewer's Marina. The applications along with maps and photos for these sites are attached. We also support the applications for acquisition of the BITI, LLC property adjacent to the creek in Roslyn (referenced in our January 8, 2007, letter to you) and the KeySpan property (the two parcels adjacent to the Tappen Beach Park, nominated by the Town of Oyster Bay). Nominations for all six above-referenced properties are also supported by the Glenwood/Glen Head Civic Association (Patrice Benneward, President).

Several of these properties are threatened with imminent residential development. The irony is that as the ecosystem and habitat for Hempstead Harbor continue to improve, the development pressures increase. If development is allowed to proceed along the waterfront at a scale similar to that of the Bryant Landing development in Roslyn, for example, all that the stakeholders around Hempstead Harbor have worked long and hard to improve and preserve will be threatened with degradation once again–not from industrial assaults, but from overly dense residential development, which could have equally adverse impacts. (The once bucolic lower harbor now ends in a jarring view of large multistoried buildings that are in extreme contrast to the historic homes that dot the shore of Roslyn Harbor, including the William Cullen Bryant Estate at Cedarmere. The view corridor that once existed from the Roslyn Viaduct looking north to the harbor and Long Island Sound as you travel westbound is nearly obliterated.)

We fear that increased impervious land areas around the harbor and increased emissions from increased traffic will also increase storm-water runoff problems and compromise the harbor's water quality and habitat as well as change the human habitat from suburban–with critical recreational resources– to unchecked sprawl that is out of line with the municipal local waterfront redevelopment plans or shoreline studies that have been undertaken around the harbor (including the Hempstead Harbor Water Quality Improvement Plan, the Hempstead Harbor Management Plan, and the Glenwood Landing Waterfront Redevelopment and Revitalization Plan). This is also out of line with the county's new Healthy Nassau initiative.

In addition, local waterfront development projects have failed to adequately plan for building in flood zones in the past and do not address the future vagaries of climate change, global warming, and rising sea levels (see The New York Times, Real Estate, section 11, "The Real Riddle of Changing Weather: How Safe Is My Home," March 11, 2007). As the previously cited article states, the designation of a 100-year flood zone means "a flood has a 26 percent chance of occurring in any 30-year period." This combined with estimates of a 5-inch rise in sea level by 2030 can spell economic as well as environmental disaster for irresponsibly developed areas along the waterfront. (Also note that Allstate Insurance Company has pulled out of the Long Island residential market for new policies due to concerns about the risk of climate change on coastal properties.)

Our goal, simply put, is to preserve as much of the Hempstead Harbor waterfront as possible for open space or low impact use. We feel that this will be most in line with the desires of the stakeholders around the harbor, which has been designated by the New York State Coastal Management Plan as a significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat and cited by Audubon as a critical flyway for migratory birds. This action would also parallel efforts to create stewardship sites around Long Island Sound (Hempstead Harbor is one of the stewardship sites selected under the newly enacted Long Island Sound Stewardship Act). Further, by preserving these waterfront parcels, we can move forward with every harbor community's efforts to create a harborwide trailway, a soft shoreline, and wetlands restoration, which can all help to mitigate the damage from storm surge and flooding. (Note that the Town of North Hempstead has already made a significant investment in beach plantings, land acquisition, and the waterfront trail on the west shore of the harbor.) Also, establishing a Glenwood Landing Waterfront Greenway is a designated priority in the New York State Open Space Plan.

We would be happy to provide additional information on these parcels at a later date as you begin your examination of open-space nominations. If necessary, we would also be happy to elicit additional formal support by community members and groups for the above nominations.

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