Important Ecosystem

Feb 27, 2019

To the Editor:

I am a registered nurse who has dedicated most of my career caring for children and young adults with multiple disabilities. I advocate and take pride in caring for and assisting my patients to reach their full potential and to make their lives as normal as possible. I’ve been camping, swimming, rock climbing, and been to Disney World many times with patients who could not walk, talk and breathe without a ventilator. I’m the last person who would oppose building a handicap parking lot.

The local residents of Bayview Park and myself are not opposing handicap parking spaces. We are opposing any construction on or near the north end of the park, which was sold to the township decades ago by one of our neighbors, Mr. Brogan. Even though the parcel is designated as Green Acres for recreation and conservation, the portion in question is wetlands and, as such, provides an important ecosystem for numerous air, sea and land species.

This parcel is the only wetland in Brant Beach. Any construction on or near it will completely destroy the last remaining wildlife habitat that serves as a nesting and feeding ground and travel corridor for many native species of birds and wildlife including Atlantic brant, heron, egret, redwing blackbird, horseshoe crabs and diamondback terrapin. It also serves as a flyway for bald eagles, falcons, etc.

The mere construction of a parking lot would bulldoze and fill in this parcel and destroy many native cedar trees, cattails and marshland that support the ecosystem that has thrived there much longer that any of us.

My family has owned our home on West 66th Street for 66 years. Five generations have enjoyed every spring, summer and fall there. We’ve come to love and respect the natural landscape and wildlife that live in and visit this wetland every year. There has never been a season or day that we don’t see some form of wildlife in this wetland. 

The Atlantic brant bring their little ducklings to teach their young how to swim and feed in the tidal pond. Horseshoe crabs still migrate here to mate and lay eggs. Just this past summer my great nephews and nieces helped me rescue four or five horseshoe crabs that were stuck in the bulkhead. The diamondback terrapin have nested under our decks for decades.

Local residents opposed construction of a parking lot and dog park a few years ago. We also opposed building a pier on top of the drain that was placed next to the wetland. A wrap-around jetty was supposed to be placed at the drain. Instead, a pier and a sidewalk leading to the pier were built, and without legal notice to all the residents within 200 feet of this construction.

Now the township wants to build four regular parking spaces to justify three handicap spaces. ADA standards require accessible spaces only where parking already exists so no handicap spaces are required to be built leading to the pier.

Bayview Park already has 75 parking spaces with at least two handicap spots next to the boardwalk near the gazebo and bathrooms. If more handicap spaces are needed at the park, the township could easily build on the basketball court, which is only used to store surf and paddleboard rental equipment. This would make much more sense because it is directly next to the bathrooms and ramps leading to the boardwalk, which is a much bigger area for the handicapped to view concerts and activities in the bay or in the park.

In addition, the township building has 55 parking spaces, and if more spaces are needed for overflow or buses there are about 175 parking spaces near the Custard Hut on 50th to 54th streets, which are never used.

Local property owners who live on and visit the Island during spring, summer and fall want our voices to be heard. We pay property taxes and provide large amounts of revenue to the township by supporting the local economy. We know that the township can come up with a better plan.  Please do the right thing. Stay away from and preserve the wildlife habitat and wetland at Bayview Park.

Barbara Jackowicz

Brant Beach


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