Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00
As I read the last issue of the Syosset-Jericho Tribune, I looked at each article searching for the familiar names of former students here in Jericho or the accomplishments of the professional staff I had the pleasure of working with for many years. It always brings me a sense of pride in community as I read these articles. I finished the paper reading about softball sign-up for SYAC girls softball and knew that it was a sure sign of spring; more reliable than the groundhog.
However, there is definitely an elephant in the room that has not been addressed that affects our community directly, and that is the zone change petition from residential to commercial on Old Cedar Swamp Road to accommodate the development of an assisted living facility on 3.38 acres next to Jericho High School and Middle School.
The Jericho School buildings and grounds have always provided a safe environment for our students. The quiet, set back campus allows for a small, country-like setting, for a district big on accomplishments. To see this balance disrupted by an environmental change to commercial zoning from the present historical setting where Cider Mills, Quaker Meeting houses and stories of the Underground Railroad abound, would not only be a shame, but a threat to our school district.
Our schools have been in residential areas since the inception of Jericho School District. I personally am fearful that a zone change will encourage commercial interests to push into other parts adjacent to the school, and the historical significance of the area will be lost. To all, Jericho will be recognized as a parking lot adjacent to Whole Foods and not a community with a rich history and outstanding school system.
We are a part of the rich history of the early settlers of the region. In the shadow of the greatest city in the world, our children learn (and learn well) in country settings surrounded by nature and history. Go to an after-school sporting event and enjoy watching our young people compete in this setting; then imagine a Burger King, or worse, on the school perimeter.
Help keep the character of the neighborhood and school for future generations and say no to zoning changes. Jericho and its neighboring communities have succumbed to “progress” enough. Let our schools do what they do best without being infringed upon by outside interests, and locate commercial projects in areas that have been designated as commercial property.
Robin P. Halleran