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Residents Protest Proposed Holtsville Ecology Center Closing With Facebook Page

Group particularly upset with proposal to close down the Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology Center.

A grassroots movement from Brookhaven-area residents in protest of Brookhaven Town's possible decision to close the Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology Center has gone viral with the help of Facebook and an online petition.

Last Friday concerned residents launched the Facebook page entitled: "Save the Holtsville Wildlife & Ecology Center," and began posting news, developments, and links for visitors to contact elected officials on the Town Board.

To date, in three days time, the page has gone from three likes, to 4,218, with residents from all over splashing the page with comments and questions.

"My kids love the place."

"What the heck."

"This is a staple of my childhood-I can't stand the idea of it."

"We need to save this wonderful place I've taken my children there over the years now im taking my grand kids..."

In an email to Patch, Adrienne Meyers Wilber, of Holtsville, wrote: "I enjoy visiting the animals and walking on the exercise path. When my kids were younger we used to visit the playground very often."

In addition to the Facebook page, an online petition has popped up on the aggregation site Change.org, with more than 1,700 signatures. The petition still needs 3,295 to reach the 5,000 signature benchmark.

Meanwhile, the Brookhaven Wildlife Center, Inc., a non-profit organization that supports the animals living at the ecology site, has planned an emergency board meeting for this Thursday at the ecology site to discuss the matter.

That board meeting is not open to the public, but the Brookhaven Town Board also meets on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Town Hall. 

Jack Krieger, a Brookhaven Town spokesperson, said the cuts are in the preliminary budget plan, which has not been adopted yet. He also added that closing the zoo and greenhouse alone would save the town approximately $900,000 per year.

"An analysis of the Holtsville Complex indicated that it was heavily used by non-Town residents, resulting in Town residents subsidizing that use through their tax dollars," a portion of the tenative budget, put together by now former Town Supervisor Mark Lesko, reads. "We recommend immediately planning for the safe transfer of the animals at the zoo and we have budgeted $50,000 for this transfer."

The Brookhaven Wildlife Center, in a post on its Facebook page, said it was "extremely disappointed" in the decision to include closing the site in the preliminary budget. 

"This facility, unlike any other in the Town provides something for all ages and abilities, and is a treasure that should not be discarded," said the BWC, which is a separate entity from the Town. "There are some things residents don't mind paying for, and we hope the rest of the Brookhaven Town Board realizes the value of this facility and the enjoyment it provides to Brookhaven residents both young and old."

Patch will have more on this story, including from the Sept. 20 Town Board meeting, as it develops.

What are your thoughts on the proposed cutting of the park? Talk about it in the comments below.

Darlene Gajewski September 18, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Aren't they charging a small fee to walk through the zoo! Where is that money allocated to!
Dawn-Marie Grossman Montesinos September 18, 2012 at 07:09 PM
No, the zoo is free. They do have donation boxes.
sheila September 18, 2012 at 07:29 PM
That is what they should do though. I'm sure people would rather pay a small fee than see the whole place shut down!
Melissa September 18, 2012 at 10:24 PM
This is very sad I have lived in the town of Brookhaven my while life. I went here as a child and now bring my son. Town of Brookhaven should do something to save it for the residents even if there is a small fee.
Anne boyce September 18, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Been going there for a long time to run the psth take my kids to the pool and zoo. Just to sit. It's a great place. Think of what you are closing and what it means to so many people.
Bill Powell September 18, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Great place...I would be willing to pay an annual fee to use the facilities!
lara buscatelli September 19, 2012 at 01:20 AM
We residents paid for the Holtsville Ecology Site. If so many non residents visit, simply implement a nonresident fee.
Paul J. Graniello September 19, 2012 at 03:11 AM
The Brookhaven Town sticker should let you in. Non residents pay a fee. This year we had to pay for the Brookhaven Town sticker, some of the funds should go to keep the Holtsville Ecology site open. The children enjoy the zoo. The Town Officals should take other look to see where funds can be used to keep the site open.
Frank September 19, 2012 at 10:30 AM
Thats a shame that place is great for the kids im sure if they charged a small fee everyone would gladly pay it it sad that they look at the things that give taxpayers enjoyment as the first thing to cut... Years of mismanagement in the town of crookhaven and now they take away the zoo shame on them
Michelle September 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM
So sad, I have been going there for over 20 years. I will be truly upset and disappointed in our local government if they cannot find a way to keep it open. I would be will ing to pay a fee each time I go and I am a Brookhaven Town Resident.
betsy smith September 19, 2012 at 03:30 PM
A small fee for a sticker is the way to go. This is a valuable community resource and not all that expensive to run. The compost feature should be better advertised and is another possible way to generate some funds.
Judy Pepenella September 19, 2012 at 03:41 PM
It is sad that Lesko can budget in $50,000 to move the zoo, but not find a better way to keep a gem up and running. I agree with Paul's suggestion. The tax payers and residents are paying for this park, non-residents should be paying a fee. As for the Zoo section-maybe a resident and non-resident fee should be applied to help defray the costs for the care of the animals. I have been a resident of Brookhaven for 20 years and have gone to the park with my children as a family and with both of their boy and girl scout troops. We have spent hundreds of hours there, bike riding, playing in the park area, doing picnics, going through the zoo and feeding the animals and, of course, swimming. This is a gem for our town.
Elizabeth K September 19, 2012 at 04:07 PM
They just added a barn and new animals, where they extended near Holtzviile Hal...Where wil local news go on groundhogs day?
Barbara Dreier September 19, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I would be very unhappy if the Holtsville Ecology Site were to close. My family enjoyed the zoo and the pool and grounds so very much. I still go to the zoo with my husband. I taught at The Lake Ronkonkoma PreSchool for many years and we not only supported the site, but brought our classes there for field trips every year. It is the only local place with xuch great facilities. It would be sorely missed. As a resident of Brookhaven, my family would be willing to pay a fee to keep this wonderful place open.There is nothing like it, It is an educational center, a recreational center and a place where both children and adults can enjoy seeing and interacting with animals, swim in one of the pools, and spend a lovely day in a worthwhile setting
Sherryl B September 19, 2012 at 06:36 PM
I am absolutely disgusted with the thought of this beautiful center closing, it is bad enough that finances are so poorly managed in suffolk county that children are lacking transportation, education, after school activities including music, sports and gifted and talented programs but to take this too? Where are the thousands of tax dollars I am paying going to besides providing free food and education for those here illegally? My family members in Nassau have their kids in programs before, during and after school for no additional fees, their classes sizes average 15 with a cap of 18, and their high schools have 50+ activities to choose from. Our kids in Suffolk are suffering because of greedy unintelligent officials. How can we take our towns back? This is an atrocity.
KAREN KNIGHT September 19, 2012 at 07:01 PM
I agree with everyone's heartflet expressions....a small fee for both residents & non-residents is the way to go. 36 years in the community...my kids and grandkids enjoyed the park over the years....it would be a shame to see it go. KK
madeline gallo September 19, 2012 at 07:16 PM
ENOUGHT ALREADY SHAME,SHAME ON THEM.
rich p September 19, 2012 at 08:36 PM
typical of the town of brookhaven, they do not know how to make money. Look at what they did with the amphitheater. They had it in their possession could have made tons of money by having concerts and they lost money. End result they rent the venue out for a million a year to a company that will put acts there. That company will make money. They have an ecology center that has animals in it. And from my experiance the animal display is better then most zoos that exist in this country. how about charging to get into the park and make some money. If the riverhed aquarium can make money with their very few attractions. this center should be able to do the same. The politiicans should take some buisness courses and learn how to make a buck as opposed to just taking money from people via taxes.
Barbara Renner September 19, 2012 at 08:44 PM
I am an Islip Town Resident who has long enjoyed ,especially with my Grandkids the Animal Park and for several years the Long Island Master Gardeners have been utilizing the Parks Meeting Room for our monthly meetings . As a group we have conducted several Plant Sales and deseminated gardening tips to park visitors ,have participated in renovation and maintainance of a garden bed and early intervention on the Turtle Pond,decoration of a Christmas Tree with natural elements and the creation of Floral centerpieces which were distributed to local Nursing Homes.My group and myself are merely a small percentage of the many, many residents of the surronding towns who regularly visit the park and relish all it has to offer. All of us who are struggling through these difficult economic times are aware of the cost of upkeep for such a treasure and know that we need to come together in order to preserve it for present and future generations . Together we can I am sure ,make a difference if everyone makes a little sacrifice. This Park is vital to Brookhaven and non Brookhaven Residents alike as having a place to recreate with our families ,to feel a part of protecting our wildlife is priceless. My hope is that the Town Government will recognize the investment that has already been made and find another alternative to raise the needed revenue to keep this Park fully operational.Barbara Renner
terry schmalenberger September 19, 2012 at 11:47 PM
$900,000 spread out over 350,000 residents and tens of thousands of property owners. Do the math, raise everyone's taxes $20 and charge a nominal admission fee.
Barbara Allgeier September 19, 2012 at 11:57 PM
My family has been going to the ecology cent for over 20 years. First with our children and then with grandkids, it would sadden my heart to see it gone. We need this for our furture generations. I enjoy seeing all the kids faces light up when they see and feed the animals. Im 64 and still enjoy it. ty
Tom Olsen September 20, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Maybe they should get rid of the unnecessary town patronage jobs and bloated salaries up there at town hall before they take away a precious park! No wonder Lesko jumped ship…what a mess he created!
Eileen Klett September 20, 2012 at 01:58 AM
A playground for children? An exercise trail to walk, bike or skate? Fresh air, trees grass, wildlife? Why would we want that? Aren't we supposed to be sitting in front of our TVs, eating chips and drinking soda and encouraging our children to play video games? What are we thinking? I can't begin to describe how disgusted I am at the thought of this park closing. How many parks do we have in Brookhaven? To take away one of the few recreational places we have is appauling. And I don't want to pay a fee to skate around the exercise path. A small fee to go to the zoo? Well it will not be a small fee if you have a big family. We should get some benefits from the taxes we pay. The Town of Brookhaven should do something to loose the name that they have earned: Crookhaven. They should be ashamed.
glorianne merkent September 20, 2012 at 02:09 AM
i took my children here so many times when i lived in long island.......it is a great place......
Danielle Lloyd September 20, 2012 at 02:38 AM
One thing we can do to help is go to brookhavenwildlife.org and sign the petition to keep the park open.
Jeff Rogers September 20, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Just what long island needs more mcmansions what a joke just because their bad at math means we have to be punished
majortom1981 September 20, 2012 at 02:12 PM
What does that have anything to do with a town run and funded site?
majortom1981 September 20, 2012 at 02:13 PM
As a non resident you wouldnt mind having to pay to get in then?
Irene Lohman September 21, 2012 at 02:31 PM
They need to charge a small fee for the zoo if that is an issue, but to close the site would be a wrong thing to do.

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