CARING FOR A VILLAGE’S GREEN SPACE–POST ONE


NOTE This is a previous post and part of my failed effort to speak truth to power.

The concept of land stewardship is one elected officials in my village have yet to embrace. Take, for example, the little park in our historic district. It is small–something like an acre and half, at the most. It is the only remain green space within the village proper. As such, it is a haven for wildlife rarely sen in urban settings. Zebra swallowtail butterflies, Baltimore orioles, Carolina wrens, bluebirds, woodthrushes, blue herons, barred owls, pileated, redbellied, flicker and downy woodpeckers, ruby throated hummingbirds, nuthatches, chickadees, snapping and eastern turtles, the occasional black bear, all depend on its fragile ecology.

Through the years, there have been plans to disrupt the ecology of the park. The most pernicious was the proposal to pave over a large section of the park in order to attract skateboarders from Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. That the person who put forth this plan was a local merchant who made it clear that he intended to profit from an influx of skateboarders raised no eyebrows. Perhaps the fact that the member of the Park and Recreation Board–aka Park and Wreck–who put forth the official proposal was married to merchant should have. It did not and it was only the high cost of liability insurance that kept Town Hall from implementing the proposal.
The latest threat to the ecology of the park is a series of rock concerts meant to attract large crowds. Town Council approved the concert promoters’ request without consideration for the adverse impact high intensity use of the park might have on the local fauna and flora. Park and Wreck appears to have made no effort to set limits to use of the park. Actually, its role seems to be limited to finding new ways to spend the tax revenues accrued by hotels and casinos in the county. At no time have these revenues been used to maintain or improve park ecology. The thrust of Park and Wreck’s efforts is to attract greater numbers of visitors to the park. More visitors require structures such as Port-a-john, which require space previously available to wildlife. Recently. town workers have destroyed a stand of blood root, one of the species of wildflowers that had survived previous depredations. It is not only wildflowers that suffer whenever Town Hall dispatches its minions to the park. This year, lilacs that were planted to honor local soldiers who died during WW II narrowly escape the fatal attention of municipal workers.
This is what I have done to try to shift the local authorities’ attention from depredation to preservation,
  • I have sent the mayor, town council, The Wildlife Federation and all local newspapers an e-mail about the possible consequences of rock concerts and all high impact activities for the park’s fauna and flora.
  • I sent the mayor an e-mail suggesting that Town Hall and the local university join with Cornell University to make the park a safe area for urban birds and to focus on educational activities that would not endanger the park’s ecology.
  • I e-mailed Cornell University for suggestions. Cornell’s Urban Bird Project is prepared to contribute educational material to be used in local schools which might result in higher awareness of the park’s unique role in local ecology.
  • At the suggestion of the Urban Bird project I will be keeping a cyberjournal of events connected with the park’s ecology.
  • I plan to design a website dedicated to this issue. In that website I will publish my correspondence with Town Hall and I will add a map to the park, photos and information on fauna and flora.
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