Save Our Holtsville Ecology Center

Our treasured Holtsville Ecology Site, in Suffolk County, New York, is in danger of being closed. I believe our elected officials could do more to preserve our wonderful facility.

(This article represents the opinion of the author.)

The current budget proposal for Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County, NY, indicates that it will no longer support the Holtsville Ecology Center. The community has been pleading with our politicians to maintain support for our treasured facility, to no avail. Residents have been signing a petition and voting on Facebook; at last count we had 27,000 signatures and "likes." Our politicians still refuse to listen to reason!

Our Ecology center is not just a facility; it's a venue! Many if not all of our children go there on school trips. Our children get to enhance their perception of their surroundings, by doing ecology related crafts. This is so important for their emotional growth! Moms and Dads get to spend quality time with their children, at our Ecology Center. What is more important than that?

The Pool is a must! The availability of a Pool, has a monumental effect on the emotional development of a child.

Almost all of the plants that you see throughout Brookhaven are grown at this facility.

Residents go to the Ecology Center to clear their minds; they walk, they jog, and also, some bring their bikes. We are talking about the emotional well being of our adult community; in this case the 20 and "30 something" crowd.

The EC has crafts for the adults. Many residents attend the Master Gardeners Club, events.

The issue is not just about animals; it is about an emotional bonding experience between parents and children. This facility is an inseparable part of our community.

Let's put the animals last! Closing the Ecology Center will have a lasting negative impact on the children and adult residents of Brookhaven Town.

Closing this facility will be more than stupid, but criminal! Lord protect us from our misguided politicians!

The Ecology Center Facebook page has a few good suggestions that should be considered before aimlessly closing our wonderful facility.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cheryl October 08, 2012 at 06:07 PM
It would be horrific to have this Park closed for the human race however do these self centered overpaid one tracked mind Politicians even consider the trauma on the animals? This is their home their sanctuary and please let us not forget the hard workand all the donations that went into building the cages and the benches and chairs that are placed throughout the park in memory of... how about they streamline their own inflated salaries and stop taking from the little guys and the defenseless animals-- disgraceful. Senseless act of greediness. Stop lining your own pockets and leave this park alone it is beautiful and very much needed and depended upon. Charging a small fee for non residents perhaps but then wouldn't that include employees to do accounting or would that be just another pocket liner??
Ben Vitale October 08, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Cheryl I think that the human element is the only argument that can alter this decision. You might want to view a few photos of the animals at the Ecology Center. http://mapleavenuenw.blogspot.com/2012/10/holtsville-ecology-site-to-be-closed.html#links
kevin ryan October 09, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Dear Ben, one way to insure the status of the Ecology Center would be to have a massive protest in the Center on a given Saturday, complete with placards, Loud Speakers, children, adults, everyone and anyone who thinks the Center is too important to close. A Dias or platform from which people can vent their feelings, as they see fit. And of course public invitations to the entire Brookhaven Town Board with an invitation to address the people, and of course invitations to the local media. Think this could be arranged?
Ben Vitale October 09, 2012 at 03:16 PM
The people that are running this fight can be found at the following Facebook url. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/SaveHoltsvilleEcologyCenter Kevin, I agree with you; we need a huge protest protest, but the HEC Committee does not know how to play Hardball. They must have a Press Release, and invite Newsday, the LI Advance, Channel 12 News, Diane Sawyer, and Patch. I would bet that the fate of this property is already "poured in Concrete." PLAY BALL!!!!
kevin ryan October 10, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Ben, we need to be activists concerning this matter. Other than attending the upcoming meeting at Town Hall tomorrow, 11Oct12, Time? there needs to be more grass roots involvement. Lets find out who, besides Lesko, championed the closing of the HEC as a budgetary requirement. Brainstorm with the people and the board to find out alternatives. Above all, those who vote for the closing must be warned that their political futures are in danger, we wont forget.
Pazi Steklo October 10, 2012 at 05:22 PM
The fact is this. The town doesn't have a million dollars to keep it going. Just as I can't find the money to pay my taxes to them, they can't pay to support the park...oh wait, I see what I did there... I get it now. nevermind.
Ben Vitale October 10, 2012 at 05:48 PM
All we expect is for the politicians to do their jobs. Instead of taking the easy way out, they should look into charging an entry fee, and also look into Federal Grants. A nominal fee could be charged for school groups, admission, and possibly parking. If we have no amenities, why do we need the Brookhaven government. I too would rather not pay any fee, but we are budgeting ourselves into a sterile community. How about administering a season pass? NEIGHBORS would you be willing to pay a fee?
Ben Vitale October 14, 2012 at 02:16 PM
If the Brookhaven Government is looking for money to pay for the Ecology Center, it might be a good idea to contact Paul Pontieri and the Trustees of Patchogue Village. The Patchogue Village Government has demonstrated their expertise in identifying sources of Grant Money.
Connie October 14, 2012 at 11:17 PM
At the board meeting on October 11, they said that they have a plan to try to keep it open, they asked us to attend the next week in early November where they would update us.
Russ October 15, 2012 at 12:25 AM
I'm no mathametician BUT , there has to be at least 100,000 residents in Brookhaven x's $2.00 additional tax = $200,000 + at least 25,000 business's x's $5 = $125,000 = $325,000 for starters towards Ecology Center budget. If their budget is $925,000 I'm sure the remaining $600,000 could be raised / earned from a $2 to $3 admission fee per family & $10 minimum per bus load of day camper visitors. Or even $5 per car of non- residents. WHY NOT ? You can't go ANYWHERE for that cost to see a park like this. What does Long Island Game Farm charge?? Think about it ! ! !
C. TRIOLO October 15, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Remember these politicians in the voting booth folks!
Ben Vitale October 15, 2012 at 01:19 PM
A politician once told me that he always pays attention to the number of letters, calls, and Emails, that he receives. He told me that if he receives 1 email about a certain issue; there is probably another 10 people that agree with the correspondence. If we only consider the 19,000 people that signed the petition; that would be 190,000 people that would like to retain our Ecology Center. The present population of Brookhaven is 486,040 people; this indicates that almost 50 percent of our residents want to save our Ecology Center.
Aaron Clow October 15, 2012 at 04:59 PM
It seems incredible to me that a few councilpeople can take away a tremendous resource that thousands of people enjoy every year. I have been told the "million dollar" figure is not correct, that the town employees would, according to a collective bargaining agreement, have to be placed somewhere else in Brookhaven township. It's just unconscionable that this center could be closed, that the beautiful pools could be emptied and the wonderful zoo could be shuttered. My son takes swimming lessons here every summer, and we use the park at least a couple times a month. I don't understand why every other town beach or park can figure out how to generate passes for residents and charge non-town residents for access but Brookhaven can't do this with the Ecology Center? I would pay $50 for an annual resident parking pass to the site. Let non-residents pay a higher price if that's Lesko's and the board's big concern. I'm tired of fighting for this every year. We elect these people to come up with solutions to issues, not to take the easy way out and just close down resources that are so valuable to children and families, not to mention animals.
Ben Vitale October 15, 2012 at 05:28 PM
It is incredible! 50% of the taxpayers are forced to "Beg," for something that they want. At the next election, the opponents will surely flaunt the fact that the incumbent was responsible for the demise of our "Treasured" Ecology Center. Poetic justice! They will get what they deserve at the next election. Something is wrong with this picture; we should not have to "beg" for something that belongs to us! I will vote for a Politician that allows me to maintain my dignity!
Jen October 15, 2012 at 05:36 PM
how about we think about how much it cost to feed farm animals and start contributing to this lovely place. say a charge of 5 dollars for a family of 4 everytime they visit? would everyone complain about that as well....we make a donation everytime we go there - how many other people do? nothing is free anymore people...that went out the window awhile ago. The place is not going to close...believe me it will not close, so the next time you go there make a donation...help feed the animals you love so much ..
Scotty October 18, 2012 at 08:58 PM
@Ben Vitale--if you've missed the MANY blogs which have already been made about the Ecology Center here on Patchogue Patch and on Sachem Patch we've hashed this out upside down and sideways and yes, MANY 'neighbours' have weighed in fully willing to pay a fee to keep the Site open. But THAT is not the issue. The issue is that there is a lie being promulgated about just how much it costs to run Holtsville Ecology and how much it costs the town of Brookhaven. No where in there is any hint of the Highway Department being consulted or taken into consideration --and it was their baby from the beginning (as far as I know). It was built on the old landfill so canNOT be sold to anyone to build on the site. It would revert to weeds. NOR does this Town Board have the right to arbitrarily make this decision behind closed doors with no input from the public --those people whose taxes have been supporting the Ecology Center for the last 30-odd years. This is Lesko's parting shot--and a false claim that $800,000+ will be saved when the reality is that it will 'save' somewhere between $150,000 - $200,000 per annum. THAT amount could easily be raised by the people of the Township who not only love the Center but use the facilities. There could be a TINY increase of $2.00 on citizens and $4.00 per car for outsiders charged. The animals are injured and there to be rehabbed--it isn't a 'zoo' the way these Board members seem to think. They seem utterly clueless and if nothing else works, SIT IN!
Ben Vitale October 18, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Scotty: I totally agree with you; the town gave us a "false number," as to how much it would cost to keep the EC open. Your number of 150,000. dollars sounds closer to the truth. I am overwhelmed with the audacity of our so called representatives.
Scotty October 18, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Ben: In all honesty I'm so fed-up with Town Boards thinking they have total say in everything - they're not our RULERS for pete's sake, but elected representatives there to do OUR will, something they seem to so quickly forget once they get their butts into those town board seats!--that this issue is finally my own personal line in the sand. I propose that we show up en masse with chains and padlocks as many of us did in the 1960's (and some brave souls are still doing to protest cutting down of redwood forests), and conduct a good old-fashioned sit-in protest (after notifying EVERY news media within 100 miles) on ANY day these jerks plan to spend their $50,000 to move the unplaceable animals--for many of whom this will be a death warrant. I know John Rouse is entirely against any idea of closing down the Ecology Center; I know HE knows the 'nearly a million dollar savings' is bull manure (or buffalo manure if one prefers) ;) so perhaps Mr. Rouse and his people can be prevailed upon to help? This Country wasn't founded by cowards--I think we need to demonstrate that we're just as willing to stand up physically to these know-nothing bullies on the Town of Brookhaven board who seem incapable of comprehending that they're simply and utterly WRONG!
kevin ryan October 18, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Scotty, A man after my own heart! To borrow a much used word, "OCCUPY!!!" the HEC. It belongs to the taxpayer, residents ofBrookhaven Town, not the members of the Town board. They are not our Masters, we are not their serfs. Rather, they, supposedly represent us, collectively. Not special interests, not real estate interests, not big business. Although I'm sure a WalMart could be built there. Let us hope for a large turnout for the next Town Hall meeting.
Scotty October 18, 2012 at 11:30 PM
@kevin ryan--I fear I've misled you. Women are also stuck with the 'Scotty' nickname when emigrating to the US as a child, as I was. Hopefully being female doesn't negate my posts in your eyes. ;) Agree with ALL of your points save the WalMart one--If memory serves the site (being a landfill) could NEVER be built on--especially any facility which involved food (for humans) which a WalMart would have. It'd take someone with better memory-knowledge of the terrain and ecology to provide that info. Mr. Rouse comes to mind for info. since he's been a strong advocate for Holtsville Ecology to remain the beautiful park it is as were the previous Highway Dept. people before him. The only problem (as I see it) with Town Hall meetings is their limited space and near silence/lack of publicity after the fact. Something else has been troubling me: the volunteers there and the Highway Dept employees working at the EC seem to have been shut down from speaking out but they surely should have a major voice in this since they've been instrumental in turning it into the beautiful place we love so much. AND: there are many people on Long Island who don't spend time on computers who simply might not know of this underhanded move to close it down. They NEED to be made aware--and soon, of what this Board is doing. I'd like the name of every single board member who is FOR the closing of the site to be published-somewhere, so we can know just whom we're dealing with. WE need to stop them.
Ben Vitale October 19, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Scotty: I too have a suspicion that there was some bullying going on in the background; the fight to keep the EC open has taken on the persona of a Ping Pong game, rather than a that of a Football game. If you or a fellow employee has received a "Gag- order type directive," from their superior, with regard to the Ecology Center, please send an email to the following email address. Do not use names, but please only send one email. davis.park@yahoo.com A Gag-order is usually issued by a judge when legal proceedings are in progress or pending. In the case of the Ecology Center there is no litigation, so pressuring employees to "keep their mouth shut," could be considered as bullying. The Healthy workplace bill, is close to becoming law in NY State; the employee could then sue his boss for bullying. Amen! Enough is enough!
Jeanette October 19, 2012 at 05:36 AM
The highway dept can Cut out Double overtime on a crew of eight ...for 2 weekends out of the month... If you watched the public 21 channel you would have seen how the highway department was saved from layoffs. They could charge a fee. how much do they get per car for the garden shows and the christmas lighting? Holtsville Hal? parking lot fee makes more sense....Drain the pools as everyone in the surrounding areas all have their own in the backyard as there are plenty of beaches,....
kevin ryan October 19, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Ben, Bullying is a fact of life for civil service employees, specially when the "supervisors" are hand picked members of the political party (Read republicans) in the town of Brookhaven, in this instance. Of course they were ordered to shut up, on pain of losing their jobs! It's prevalent in the villages, towns , state Civil Service, especially those positions not covered by the Civil Service Laws and rules. Don't make waves. As to the Center being built over a garbage dump, therefore making it unusable for building Shopping Centers, residences or any other commercial purpose, all it takes is a zoning change, a new local law enacted etc. Remember the Golden Rule: "He who has the gold, makes the rules. "
Ben Vitale October 19, 2012 at 12:19 PM
We must first find out if the Highway Department has been a casualty of budget cuts. Double overtime is usually a result of budget cuts. A "20 mule team," was required to get Borax out of Death Valley in the 18Th century. I could understand the overtime, if the required "20 Mule team" has been streamlined into a "Two Mule Team." I do indeed want the streets plowed in the winter.
Ben Vitale October 19, 2012 at 12:31 PM
I know of a local facility where Bullying has dropped the productivity by 50%; the employees literally spend 50% of the work day defending themselves, and "licking wounds," inflicted by their boss. Management is too dumb to realize that if you treat employees like friends and Family, they will produce for the company out of pure obligation. A zoning change is exactly what I suspect. I feel that the fate of the EC has already been "written in stone."
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