Written by Dave Gil de Rubio, Dgilderubio@antonnews.com Friday, 25 January 2013 00:00
On Saturday, Jan. 12, the Tanner Pond Environmental Center/Garden City Bird Sanctuary commemorated its Fifth Annual Winterfest.
A self-created holiday meant to retell the story of the bird sanctuary and honor those who have donated trees in honor of someone else and those whom they were planted for, this event also represents hope and renewal in the dead of winter.
Symbolism was rampant, as roughly 20 people formed a circle around a fir strewn with gold garland and dedicated to the memory of Curt Hoera. With a nip in the air and the overcast sky giving way to dusk, a solitary cardinal chirped as John Cronin, the current president of the board of trustees, handed out candles that were to be lit as the ceremony proceeded. In doing so, he also explained the inspiration for this annual event.“[Rob] took this space that was basically a storm water basin/garbage dump and did a tremendous thing with it,” said Cronin. “I thought that in honor of what Rob has done and what he represents, this would be a way that each year we could tell how the traits he possesses make this a better place.”
The man he was referring to was longtime Garden City resident Rob Alvey, a current geologist for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Manhattan office. An inventory that he did of the village’s green space back in 1992, when he was appointed to the Village of Garden City Environmental Board, eventually led to this storm water basin being officially proclaimed the Garden City Bird Sanctuary in 1996.
Since then, it has become environmental oasis smack dab in the middle of suburbia that has allowed birders to catch sight of species ranging from warblers and Scarlet Tanagers to Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Saw-whet Owls. It’s also home to one of the last remaining acres of the once-massive Hempstead Plains, a tract of land that at one time stretched from the Queens border all the way out to western Suffolk County.
Beyond its biological significance, this nine-acre piece of green space has served as an outdoor classroom and an area tailor-made for local Scout projects, with three Girls Scouts earning Girl Scout Gold Awards and 20 Boy Scouts attaining Eagle status dating back to 1995. Currently an educator in the Stewart Elementary School, Cronin has been involved with the bird sanctuary since August 2000, when he took a position on the board of directors. As a teacher, he took his science classes on trips to this site and in the process, saw the important educational benefits that come from having such a unique place in the village.
“It’s important because [young people] get to see the importance of environmental conservation, preserving green space for tomorrow,” he explained. “This used to literally be a dump, so if they get to see a place like this, they get to see what nature has to offer. How beautiful it is and why we need to conserve it for the future.”
Being a non-profit means that volunteers are the engine that keep the bird sanctuary going from its March opening all the way through to when it closes on Thanksgiving. And while the damage was minimal from Hurricane Sandy, much of the clean-up couldn’t have been done without the efforts of people willing to put a few hours and some sweat equity into this project. It’s something Alvey admits is crucial to the sanctuary’s survival. Especially when roughly $11 is spent for every $10 the site receives in donations and grants.
“The biggest asset we have, which is hard to put a dollar figure on, is the literally hundreds of people that volunteer, work out there and donate their time. That’s where it really makes the difference,” he said. “The money doesn’t sound like that much. We’ve gotten $150,000 in donated labor services and I have two grants from New York State that I have had to document each hour of service committed and credited at seven dollars an hour. And it does add up.”
Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:00
There’s no denying that the teen years can be angst-ridden. A mainstay in literature, movies and, of course, music—every generation has an endless supply of “coming of age” tunes about being misunderstood.
Music can be a great equalizer and a way to express bottled emotion. Maria Sarro, founder of Beyond Rock, recalls her own childhood as being riddled with fears and insecurities. As an adult she explored outlets that challenged her to step out of her comfort zone. She thought, “If I’d had experiences like this as a kid, it would have changed everything.”
Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:00
When Msgr. Ralph Sommer became pastor of St. Brigid’s Church, Westbury, 12 years ago, it was quite a change.
“I had served at a parish out in Hauppauge, St. Thomas More,” a fairly homogeneous parish, said Msgr. Sommer, known to parishioners as “Father Sommer” or “Father Ralph.” In Westbury, he found great diversity.
“We have 11 Masses in four languages — Spanish, Creole, Italian, and English,” Father Sommer said. In addition, there are parishioners of African-American, Philippine, Indian, and other Asian birth or ancestry.
Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:00
Garden City High School held their annual G.A.A.–B.A.A. Awards Banquet on June 3 at Chateau Briand in Westbury. The event is sponsored each year by The Men’s Association of Garden City and honors the many senior student athletes and major award winning underclassmen for their accomplishments throughout the school year. And Garden City has many!
The Girls and Boys Athletics Associations have a rich tradition and history and continue to dedicate themselves to the Garden City athletics program each year. BAA President Christian Capozzi opened the night by introducing the officers of both associations as well as leading the attendees in the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00
The Garden City Centennials held their annual year-end Soccer Fest at St. Paul’s on Saturday, June 1. The day-long event is the culmination of the soccer season for the more than 2,100 young girls and boys that participate in one of the many programs the Centennials offer. Highlighted by the giving out of the annual awards to all players, the youngsters also enjoyed the fun games and activities throughout the day. Soccer Fest also represented the close of the travel season for the 41 girls and boys teams that compete in the Long Island Junior Soccer League. And with 39 travel teams, the Centennials have become one of the top programs not only on Long Island, but in New York State.