A big multi-faceted Earth day event took place on April 21, 2007 at 1PM to 4 PM. To get things rolling I went over there at 8 AM myself and began hauling out the usual refrigerators, stoves, and car parts, filling up the van a few times and bringing out the debris. Then, around 1 PM we cleaned up the parking lot, trimmed trails, and planted 50 oak tree seedlings, and some ground cover. So many people came out to join us, and the parking lot was more than full! A special thanks to the Town of Huntington who came in and removed the massive debris piles we assembled near the Euclid Ave. powerlines! It has never looked so good.
On April 28 I led a hike to the site of the proposed TRIM Intermodal Rail- Truck transfer facility. Some concerned civic groups and Legislator Stern walked to the border of the preserve and walked through major portions of both properties and explained why the TRIM would have an overall negative impact on the region.
On June 2nd the first and only "Welcome Back to the Preserve" event was held and a major effort to prepare the site was made. Many days were spent on various activities, organizing, and planning, as well as physically cleaning out the locations for the participants. The event was great... we led several well attended hikes and bike rides, and participants held demonstrations on wildlife, nature, model airplanes, injured animal rehabilitation, bird watching, mountain biking, the cosmos, and nature photography. A big thanks to all the participants, and the towns of Babylon and Huntington.
On June 14th the Air National Guard based at LI MacArthur Airport commenced a training exercise at Edgewood, using helicoptors to pick up several abandoned cars and move them to the parking lot. They also moved concrete barriers into position to prevent illegal access to the property. They will return on the week of June 18th to complete the mission. And the good news continues: the Suffolk county sheriff SLAP team together with DEC operations crews started a cleanup of old hospital debris at the old boiler drainage pond
We also are very happy to announce that "TEP" funding to renovate the long-abandoned bridge over Commack Road has been approved. It has taken 6 years to reach this point, and we would like to thank Legislator Steven Stern, Senator Owen Johnson, Gordon Canary, and their staff for their dedication and help on this project. But we still face possible demolition since the DPW is opposed to renovating the bridge, citing threats to trucks and cars from this bridge...they are not too worried about pedestrians and bicyclists I suppose. Another battle to take on!
Saturday February 10th at 9:30 AM I led a "Get Healthy Hike", a fairly brisk walk along the paved Old Commack Road trail and some woodland trails. On Saturday, March 24th, at 9:30AM another longer, more traditional hike along the trails took place. It was nice to meet many new faces at both events. Our monthly birdwalks also continue... third Sunday of each month at 9AM. All events require meeting in the parking lot about 5 minutes before the listed time. On November 4, 2006 the first trail maintenance event took place, we met at the parking lot and trimmed both trailheads north and south of the parking lot, and good parts of the main trail itself. Some of us hauled out some more huge piles of scrap metal from the woods near Euclid Ave and will complete this operation in early 2007. On October 29th we had a long mountain bike ride at Edgewood... covered just about all the trails and possible trails! It was muddy but that goes with the turf... the trails do need some work!
Sadly, with all the good news there are always a few setbacks. Not only have ATV riders gone around someof the walls but they continue to harass some legitimate users of the preserve. And someone using some sort of heavy equipment lifted 2 concrete wall sections out of place, which was quickly followed by an act of vandalism and arson of a stolen SUV near the former site of the old Edgewood powerhouse. The wall was repaired by DEC, removed again a few weeks later at G road. It was quickly repaired by DEC and reinforced before any more illegal dumping took place. The DEC had 2 ATV sting operations, at least 10 ATV's and dirt bikes were impounded in total and may summonses were issued. Some were written at night and the riders were drinking alcohol. We DO need more eyes and ears to observe and report illegal dumping, trespassing and ATV use. Some of these older ATV's are loud and smoky machines which ruin the overall atmosphere at the preserve. If you have ideas for the preserve, we would like to hear them.
I did "sort of" hold the June 24th Cleanup but there was really no reason to expect a good turnout. The weather simply did not cooperate and we were even hit with a thunderstorm. However, a short break in the rain allowed a few of us to pick up a truckload of junk along Old Commack road. A special thanks to the DEC and the few hardy folks that showed up anyway. Also, on Sunday, June 11th 2006 at 8 AM we had our first birdwatcher's walk... and saw many birds, but most notably, 2 bald eagles flying about 8000 feet up, circling! Another cleanup was held at Edgewood on April 21st and 22nd 2006. Although it rained heavily, at least 12 die hard souls turned out and helped haul out everything from bottle and cans to refrigerators, boilers, and engine blocks. Breakfast was served thanks to Heartland Business centers on that rainy Saturday morning. On April 21 2006, the Town of Babylon, Town of Huntington, and county of Suffolk joined the NYDEC and hauled out major debris and completed the task of repairing the potholes on the Old Commack road recreational path. The road is now free of all major potholes for the first time in decades. Also, the county inspected the old bridge over Commack and determined it to be structurally sound, a major bit of good news! But because of the inclement weather we MUST do it again in the fall of 2006!
And now a special Thanks to the following people, and I know I will forget and leave someone off the list and for this I apologize: Owen Johnson, Gordon Canary, Steve Bellone, Vanessa Baird-Streeter, Frank Petrone, Peter Scully, Lou D'Amaro, John Flanagan, Steven Stern, Robert Sweeney, Deborah Williams, Chuck Hamilton, Bill Fonda, Henry Doll, Mark Cuthbertson, Susan Berland, Margo Myles, Josephine Jahier, Robert Caroppoli, Jerry Wolkoff, Wes Gehres, Mike Giocondo, Mike Vitti, CLIMB, LIGHT and certainly the army of hard working volunteers we have had in the past 3 years to help with all the preserve cleanup and trail efforts. A special thanks to Deborah Morris of Newsday for getting our story on page 10 of the Saturday April 22 edition. If we left anyone out, please let us know!
Also, I ask that anyone and everyone inform their friends and neighbors that the property is not a dumpsite and there are MASSIVE fines for illegal dumping!!! Please help us make the preserve a place we can all be proud of! And be SURE to send in your permit applications anytime to visit the preserve, even if you plan to only come there once in a while... after all is is FREE and good for 3 years... all it will cost you is about 3 minutes to fill out the PDF form. Go to DEC ACCESS PERMIT PDF and e-mail the filled out form back to the DEC. Then simply print it out... no more waiting or postage to worry about at all! To E-mail us with any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org You will NOT need a permit on cleanup type event days as long as you sign in, but you should still get one so you can use the property any time you feel like taking a walk, run, or bike ride        The Area recovers from the big 2006 fire Sadly a massive brush fire ripped through about 100 acres of the preserve's southern sections. It jumped LI avenue and began heading to the Deer Park train station, briefly jumping the LIRR tracks onto the south side. Luckily the 43 fire depts were able to get it under control before anyone was hurt or property was lost. The forest is already beginning to recover, but evidence of the damage will be apparent for years.
Another BIG cleanup took place on November 16, 2005. We had a total of 50 participants show up, and we completely cleaned up the area surrounding the old radio/weather tower Several tons of metal and other debris were hauled out to Old Commack road, where a 50 yard dumpster was almost filled to the top, and this was WITHOUT the metal or tires which were piled up separately for recycling! MUCH THANKS to all of the people who came out from the hiking(LI Greenbelt), bicycle,(CLIMB and PedalPushers Online) and geocaching groups(LIGO) as well as the local residents and students who joined. A special thanks to Senator Johnson and his great staff for taking the time to come and view our efforts and for all of his support and of course for making the preserve a reality. Also, thanks to Wes and Mike of the NYDEC for making the arrangements and the great DEC operations team who got the stuff hauled out real fast! The July 16th cleanup successfully removed more than a ton of old appliances, tires, car parts, a drum containing unknown wastes and much litter. We hope you read the story in Newsday on Monday OCTOBER 24, 2005 regarding the regional trail proposal. Please support this goal any way you can!!! It's slowly getting cleaner over at the preserve, we observed the return of frogs and thousands of tadpoles We could not have done it without ALL of you! Now get ready for the next big event!
The parking lot is now PAVED thanks to the grants from Senator Johnson and Assemblyman Sweeney. We finally have a refurbished wooden sign thanks to the Edgewood Flyers. Say thanks to the wonderful DEC in-house operations team for the renovation. The new guard rails are in and the lot is much more secure. Please don't litter or dump on preserve property under any circumstances. We have made a major effort here and would like to see the land respected. More trees and vegetation will be planted and the old lot will still be available for special events. Also, new concrete barriers to prevent illegal entry and dumping have been installed and steel gates at key points are in progress.
A 6.2 mile HIKE was held on Saturday, JUNE 18, 2005 at the preserve. Everyone who came out had a good time and got to see some parts of the property not covered in previous hikes. Another 5.0 mile hike took place on February 11, 2006 and was a lot of fun, although it was a little brisk we still had a good turnout. Suffolk County Legislator Steven Stern joined us, and we had 3 other new participants who will join our future efforts. For all future cleanups check in with us or get on our e-mail list... As always we'll meet in the parking lot on the east side of Commack road, about 1.5 miles south of the LIE. If you are interested in helping out with the preserve in any way and or learning about our efforts, please join us for a little while. Another hike WILL be planned shortly afterwards.
About 843 acres have been safely preserved, mainly due to the tireless efforts of NY State Senator Owen Johnson. Mr. Johnson has now funded an additional $350,000 to NYDEC specifically for improvements at Edgewood. We have formed a task force consisting of all local interested parties, including the surrounding 3 towns, the county, and NY state, to decide on future uses and enhancements to the preserve. We would like to thank Senator Johnson for obtaining this funding and his continued work to make sure the preserve is protected. Not many people recognized the rare ecological uniqueness of the Oak Brush vegetation and there were many proposals to fully develop the property. Senator Johnson originally created an ad-hoc committee back in the early 1980's to study how it could be protected, worked closely with the NYSDEC, then introduced the legislation that created the Preserve in 1987. Subsequently, the senator made sure the 100 acres of the defunct Multi-Town property was purchased and added to the Preserve and then encouraged Governor Pataki to transfer the last 86 acre parcel adjacent to the Pilgrim State property as well. I would like to thank Senator Johnson for having the vision for creating, protecting, and funding this unique preserve!
The forest consists mainly of pitch pine, scrub oak, scarlet oak, and white oak but there are many other species present. There are also area hosting visiting red tail hawks, various owls, rabbits, fox, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, turtles, frogs, snakes, rare moths, dragonflies, and many other species. An area where the buildings once stood is now full of invasive autumn olive and multi-flora rose. It hopefully can be restored to open field areas in the future, leaving the pitch pines that have returned intact.
There are several new proposals for the surrounding area. A new regional TANGER shopping mecca has opened on Commack road at the former AIL-EDO plant. This will certainly add traffic to local roads and diesel emmissions to the already questionable air quality in the area. There is a bad proposal to build an intermodal TRIM facility, which would introduce freight trains and trucks to a 100 acre site directly adjacent to the preserve. We asked for and received some items, including a greenbelt to connect to the 132 acre parkway woods and a ban on any new roads THROUGH the Edgewood Preserve. But we still worry about the negative impacts that idling trucks and trains, as well as an expected increase in truck traffic on local roads, will have on the preserve and on the people who would live in the new "mini-city" proposed for the Pilgrim site. That proposal at Pilgrim could add up to 9,000 apartments, a 15 story office building, and a new aquarium, among other commercial and retail buildings, on the the surplus lands of Pilgrim State Hospital. There are several parcels adjacent to the preserve such as the 132 acre NY State Parkways parcel adjacent to the Sagtikos Parkway, and hopefully ALL of the intermodal site, as well as some wooded lands on the periphery of the other project sites that could possibly be used as preserve additions or recreation. Current plans call for saving 17 acres out of the 87 at Heartland industrial park, and saving about 35 wooded acres at the main Pilgrim site, meaning over 400 at Pilgrim may be developed. The adjoining photo shows the Edgewood land in 1975. All the land in the foreground is preserved, but the land to the east has been developed as the Heartland industrial park.
It is hoped that more native landscaping and low-impact outdoor lighting can be utilized in these developments. Islip town had proposed an incinerator on part of the Heartland property, when that LUCKILY failed, the town wanted to get it back on the tax rolls. About 1/3rd of the land was previously used to burn debris from the 1985 Hurricane Gloria, and was full of invasives and debris. Overall there should not be any major effects on the existing preserve, and we are working with the developer on the future projects to make the area as bike and pedestrian friendly as possible, as well as get rid of illegal ATVs and waste dumpers. We also seek to clean up the LIPA powerline road, secure it, and discuss future management of the 17 acre buffer zone just east of the preserve. Another trail could be developed along the LIPA road to improve pedestrian access to the LIRR station.
Some more land needs to be set aside as open space, many of these parcels can be linked together as part of a regional park and trails system. Suffolk County is planning to improve Commack Road south of the Long Island Expressway in 2010. It will be cost effective to build adjacent bike and pedestrian trails or lanes and also replace the old pedestrian bridge at that time, rather than just widen it and create a more dangerous road that will only attract more traffic again. Planning these projects together and having a master plan for preservation and recreation is essential. Another idea is building the LIGHT project trail, which is a big project to build the first east-west biking, hiking, and walking trail. It would start at the Edgewood Preserve adjacent to Heartland and head west through many parks including Bethpage State Park and Eisenhower Park and even allow users to get to Jones Beach! Also, a bike lane or multi-use trail could be added at the same time on the west side of Commack Road, starting at the LIE service road in Dix Hills and running south to Long Island Avenue in Deer Park, then heading east to the LIRR station. It could intersect with the replacement bridge about one mile south of the LIE, which could easily be constructed at the same time as the rest of the project, and enhance the area by providing a safe alternative for bicyclists, walkers, and runners to use the facilities at the Edgewood preserve without using a car to get there. A short lane could head up to the Pilgrim entrance and the adjacent Old Commack Road bike path on the east side as well. This would improve it's rideability and walkability, since it is currently listed as a bike route. Also, the proposed bike lanes might encourage people to ride bicycles to the overcrowded LIRR station instead of taking cars. Old Commack road has already been patched up and is designated by NYDEC as a bike trail. We also propose having a shore to shore recreational trail along the Sunken Meadow Parkway,Sagtikos Parkway,and Robert Moses Causeway, and for those trails to be linked to the others through the proposed Heartland developments. We researched routes heading west that could hook up to the proposed "Vanderbilt" LI Motor Parkway trail and eastward along other usable areas such as the LIPA routes. The developers want to createas much pedestrian and bike access as possible and we certainly want to help with that. They will encourage paths to cross their lands, hopefully reducing auto traffic and congestion. This would enable anyone to ride from Deer Park, Dix Hills, and the adjacent areas including Heartland up to the north and south shore where the 13 mile Ocean parkway bikepath construction will hopefully begin in 2011. If enough people write and speak to their county and state officials, and otherwise support the ideas, we could make this all happen!
More unused land consists of about 105 acres of former Pilgrim lands that once had been used for a sewage treatment system. A rail freight intermodal operation is planned for this land, but it is too close to the preserve and to existing and proposed residential areas. The forest has begun to regrow in much of the area, and at least 40 acres or so were never disturbed in the first place are very valuable. Several smaller intermodals could be constructed on LI, perhaps one in Nassau, two in Suffolk, and one in Queens. Also, private companies have several intermodal projects in various stages of development. The taxpayer should not have to pay for it! One WAS being planned in Maspeth, as part of the Cross Harbor Rail Tunnel, which would help, but that was successfully fought by local residents and Mayor Bloomberg. Some of Western LI may benefit from the intermodal, but at the expense of the Deer Park/Dix Hills/Brentwood area, which would see an increase in truck traffic and related pollution from both truck and train diesel exhausts, as well as noise. I have asked for creation of special rules regarding truck and train idling restrictions, noise barriers, and daily ticketing of all vehicles not in compliance with emmissions standards. All these ideas were rejected by DOT as impractical, therefore it was determined we have to fight to stop it altogether rather than allow such a facility, which would be operated by a private company or Railroad. There is reason to believe that the facility would eventually be used to ship out municipal waste and/or C&D waste. Many other projects are planned for the former Pilgrim Psychiatric center, and more wooded land could possibly be preserved in exchange for a little higher density on the previously developed land. We support addition of bike lanes and sidewalks to enhance walking and cycling. The Heartland developer supports closing the Pilgrim entrance to all trucks. It would only be used for the remaining Pilgrim hospital operations.
The new LI aquarium is also being planned on part of the former Pilgrim site. It would be nice if local residents had a safe bike and pedestrian access route to this new recreational attraction, instead of being forced into their vehicles for the short ride to this complex. Reuse of this bridge will mean there is a safe place for our children, as well as adults, to cross the dangerous Commack road below. A list of legislative E-mail contacts has been added to the bottom of the web page. Please write or e-mail these officials to show your support!
LI needs to create a network of recreational trails for bicycles, walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, and any other non-motorized transportation modes you can think of. Please consider supporting these goals so LI'ers can avoid getting in the car just to travel a mile to the local park or strip mall. These projects include creating such trails from Belmont Lake to Babylon Village, a 13 mile trail along Ocean Parkway from Jones Beach to Captree and eventually Robert Moses Beach, another connecting Otsego to Edgewood Preserve via the old bridge on Commack and over to the Sunken Meadow parkway greenbelt up to the beach, an extension of the Bethpage parkway bike path to the Cold SPring Harbor LIRR station, another 13 mile route along the abandoned LIRR Wading River branch, and restoring the remaining abandoned sections of the LI Motor parkway, (AKA Vanderbilt parkway) as a recreational path running from Western Suffolk to Queens, where the bike path already exists. It's hard to get people motivated to support these projects, and some people mistakenly believe an increase in crime will come with the "outsiders" coming through. However, in other areas where such trails have been built, home values INCREASED and crime decreased, it actually improved the quality of life in the area and created a park like atmosphere in these areas where it was safe for local children to play away from motor vehicles. The developer of Heartland supports the goals of creating a recreational trail network throughout his development and LI.