According to a state press release dated April 21, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation bought 17 acres “in the historic maritime hamlet of Setauket” with state Environmental Protection Funds. Why? “For watershed protection, forest health, and passive recreation in accordance with a Unit Management Plan that will be developed in the near future with community input.”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos praised the governor, saying, “… to purchase this parcel shows Governor Cuomo’s continued commitment to protecting our waterfront resources.”
Setauket is a charming (now more so) village on Long Island’s north shore. The purchased property is described as a “crucial link in a string of green, recreational, educational, and historic spaces” going from the Greenway Trail through park lands, and ending at the Fitzsimmons property, the name of the newly acquired green space. The parcel had long concerned the community “because of its potential for residential development, which would have increased runoff entering the watershed and the Long Island Sound.” State Assemblyman Steve Englebright added, “The acquisition will preserve in perpetuity the rural character of [this] corridor.” A Brookhaven Town official remarked that she was “excited to celebrate Earth Day by drawing attention to the natural resources in our community.”
Nature author and Setauket resident Carl Safina was very grateful that the state demonstrated such a respect for nature and the citizens who want to preserve it. “One of the things that makes living in Setauket so delightful and exceptional,” he remarked, “is the mix of residential and preserved space. It’s important not only for the physical beauty of the area but also for the birds and other wildlife that make life here so interesting. We are really pleased and gratified that this natural beauty we enjoy so much will be a permanent feature of our neighborhood.”
The state’s purchase downstate begs the question, what about upstate?
Why is it that we residents of Somerset and Yates, New York, have been pleading with the state and Governor Cuomo, writing almost 1,000 letters to the Public Service Commission in the past three years, for exactly what the residents of downstate Setauket have received? We have our own historic and scenic Seaway Trail corridor. We, too, seek protection from industrial development becoming a permanent feature of our two towns. We would be pleased and gratified if the governor took notice of the natural resources we have in abundance, and that need protection. And if residents here were allowed “community input,” Apex’s 650-foot wind turbine project called Lighthouse Wind would have been nixed two years ago.
We, too, love our rural homes, our open spaces, wildlife, raptors, song birds, peace, quiet, nighttime stars, and lake waves. All told, they make life here interesting for us.
Preserving rural character of an area? Drawing attention to a community’s natural resources? Commitment to protecting waterfront resources? Community input? Somerset and Yates want all this, as well.
Let’s see Governor Cuomo’s true “continued commitment” for protecting the quality of life for all New Yorkers, even ones who don’t live on Long Island.
Christine Bronson is a Somerset resident.
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