In response to the Town of Brookhaven's recent desires to make cuts at the Brookhaven Ecology Center, numerous community members have expressed displeasure in plans that would lose the community pool, compost center, greenhouses and a handful of jobs.
Here's three letters Sachem Patch received about the situation:
Holtville is where my autistic son said his first words – cow and moo. This is a kid who at 2.5-years old is still not able to say, "Mommy I love you." One of the reasons this happened there is because this is one of the few places where he is happy, and for the past year we have been going on average two-three times a week. We even went on a day when they had to close the sanctuary because the snow and ice was too bad. Consistency and repetition is key to his learning process. Walking with my mama friends is often my only outing with adults.
My solution: A pay cut or salary giveback from the Town's elected officials would be a welcomed change, and a guaranteed way to get re-elected. Additionally, I think they should raise fees for luxury recreation like golf links, marina docking, pump out and boat launch fees (with breaks for commercial fishing). These are sports geared towards people who have sufficient disposable income to be able to pay for these costly activities.
The longer story: We are like most middle class families – struggling to get by. This entire summer we were in economic peril because my husband works for the State of New York and we have lived for months with fear of furlough and impending layoffs. To complicate our situation, our son was diagnosed last year at 15 months with Autism.
We have spent thousands of dollars to insure proper diagnosis. His condition made it impossible for me to even consider returning to the work force. He has required approximately 20 hours a week of service in our home, including speech. At 2.5 he still cannot say, "Mommy I love you." He also has sensory issues that make many situations too overwhelming.
Because of this our social opportunities have been severely limited. We can get to Holtville in 10 minutes and this is really important when you are managing two or three teachers and specialists a day. Also places like White Post farms, the game farms and the Aquarium are cost prohibitive … especially if it is too loud or he is having a bad day and he has to be removed from the situation. - Beth S.
I use the park frequently. I take the kids to the zoo and park. My son, now 16 years old learned how to swim at that pool, we signed up for the lessons. I just learned that they have a safety town in the back. I agree that every other park chargers out of towner for the use of their facility, why can't we! Have you every seen the buses bringing kids to the park? They are not Sachem Buses or students, are they?
The Holtsville Park has really changed through the years. I am so proud to have this park in my town. I have friends that work with the animals. The cuts will start in the greenhouse and pool and we all know that they will spread throughout the park.
Has any one ever seen the people lined up outside the gates before they open in the morning to do their walking, and right before the park closes the people that do laps around the track before nightfall. This park is used all day long by people from all over. Charge out of towners, instead of putting people out of a job. - Sue Brandes
When my daughter, Adriana now 5, was 3 yrs old we took the gardening class along with a dozen other moms and children from my mom's group. It was priceless. The kids learned so much, everything was completely hands-on, they got to take everything home to show off and most of all we as parents got to spend time and do it with them.
My mom's group "No Drama Mamas" hosts play groups at the park with many moms and children, We walk there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon. I can't tell you how many people use the compost on a daily basis. We see cars coming and going constantly. If they stop the greenhouse the place will start to look like the old landfill it once was. Out of the 120-plus moms in my group someone is always using the pool. It is a blessing for so many. If they close the pool, we will never get it back. It will go into disrepair and cost way too much to overhaul it and get it back. It will be many steps back for our town.
Name one other "park" around Holtsville or the surrounding towns… we have virtually nothing. Why take this away from us. They bus loads into the zoo, park, pool … charge them fees or raise the fee they may pay for the pool. It will become a dumping ground if they close the three parts. The buildings will be vandalized and become an eyesore - look at other places that close - what they look like now. Don't do that to our children. Where else can families go? Other towns have so much.
I have a 5 year old who practically lives at that park. We are there two or three times a week. Walking the track, visiting the greenhouse talking about what is happening each season, knowing the staff - they have been there for years. My daughter knows the animals by name. I can't say enough how it will hurt the park if they let it go. - Sharon Ancilleri
The Town of Brookhaven is holding another public hearing Nov. 18 in regards to the Ecology Center. Go and show your support for Holtsville.