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Resolution That Keeps Ecology Center Open Passes In Brookhaven

Town council members approve budget item that combines divisions, leaves money in general fund.

The Town of Brookhaven approved a budget resolution to combine the division of Traffic Safety and the Highway Department, thus clearing the money in the general fund to keep the Holtsville Ecology Center up and running.

The Town Board passed the resolution after a drawn-out evening that began with budget item resolutions, transitioned to a number of zoning approvals, and then doubled back to vote on Resolution 913.

A weary crowd of blue-shirted supporters of the Holtsville Ecology Center applauded after the resolution, which was introduced by Councilwoman Connie Kepert and Councilman Tim Mazzei, passed overwhelmingly.

Former Town Supervisor Mark Lesko proposed closing the center in a preliminary 2013 budget last month, citing savings of $900,000 a year by closing the zoo and greenhouse alone.  

Patch will have more on Tuesday council meeting, including reactions from employees and users of the Holtsville site in the coming hours.

Russ October 24, 2012 at 03:22 AM
"Oh what a relief it is!!". This whole situation should never had happened to begin with and NEVER be considered again. That park is "OUR PARK"!!! I sure hope the town board has learned a very serious lesson from this whole issue. The underlying message here to them is STOP messing with the Brookhaven residents.
Andrew Martinez October 24, 2012 at 05:52 AM
They should hold fund raises to help out they should look into having a carnival that can raise a lot of money n it doesn't cost anything to have it the carnival provides everything you can contact BigBensMidway.com or contact Big Ben direct 1(631)618-5512 and this is not Ben this is someone who works for them n we do all types of fund raises all the time plus we all live in the area so we are all concerned as well
Christie October 24, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Thank you Tim Mazzei!!!!
Kim October 24, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Awesome!! This is great news. We love the Holtsville Ecology Center. Thank you to all that worked toward keeping our park open. This is a great victory for Brookhaven residents.
Mary Zampaglione October 24, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Great news!!
Ken October 24, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Will we be able to drop off leaves again? Tried to on sunday and wasn't aware yhat we couldn't. Just went to the landfill and they are charging now for residential leaf drop off.
Jenn October 24, 2012 at 01:43 PM
AWESOME!!!
Mels Ditties October 24, 2012 at 01:52 PM
A VERY special thanx for ALL that worked to save the site!...My boys are grown now, but we all remember so fondly the days we spent with the animals & in the park...GREAT WORK!!! As mentioned above, fundraisers could definitely help to fund this wonderful place in the future
RockyPointDiver October 24, 2012 at 05:15 PM
While I totally understand the affection people have for the Ecology Center, and am glad the Board was able to find a way to keep it open, in these increasingly difficult economic times I have to wonder just what the TOB is doing running a zoo in the first place. Don't get me wrong, I love animals and zoos, and like so many commenters here hold a nostalgic place for the Holtsville Wildlife park; I just don't see how it can continue to fall on the taxpayers to support this facility if it's not "earning its keep" financially. Just like our household budgets, sometimes the "nice to have" things need to be sacrificed to pay for the "have to have" things. The Long Island Game Farm has always been privately owned and operated by the Novak family. All of the NYC zoos and the Coney Island Aquarium are privately run by the Wildlife Conservation Society (formerly the New York Zoological Society). Even the famed San Diego Zoo is privately owned and operated, in fact as you look at the zoos around the country, they're overwhelmingly privately run. So while it seems the Ecology Center has been saved for now, people need to recognize it may not be so lucky the next budget go-round. If the economy continues in the dumps, and a way can't be found to privatize its operation in the future, it may have to, sadly, go.
Patchogue October 25, 2012 at 12:28 AM
We take the kids there all the time. We have great memories. Thank you all!
Kelly Bodami October 25, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Not for nothing - the town doesn't pay for the 'zoo.' The care and upkeep of the animals is fundraised by the non-profit arm of the ecology center - the brookhaven wildlife center - and one of their yearly fundraisers is this coming sunday. so before you start saying that its impractical for the town to continue funding this if the economy is still poor, perhaps you should look into the details a little bit more before making wildly inaccurate statements.
RockyPointDiver October 25, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Wow Kelly, "wildly inaccurate statements"? I'm not sure what triggered such an angry response but I guess I touched a nerve. What I find "wildly inaccurate" is the implication that the zoo is financially self-sufficient. If that were true there'd be nothing in the town's budget that needed to be cut, now would there? All I'm questioning is why the TOB is in the business of running a 'zoo' when all around the state and country you see that they're primarily privately run. The Brookhaven Wildlife Center may be covering costs for care and feeding of the animals, but the town is still paying the salaries and maintenace costs of running the facility. If those weren't costing the taxpayers anything there'd be nothing to cut. I'm suggesting that a way be found to make it truly self-sustaining (maybe through privatization) before the facility faces the axe again at the next budget cycle, when there may not be a consolidation of departments available to find wiggle room in the budget.
joan senator October 25, 2012 at 08:20 PM
It wasn't just the wildlife sanctuary that was saved, it was the park, the walking/jogging trail, the community pool, etc. The animals are all rescued and cannot be returned to the wild. It seems sometimes that the politicians use these very popular items in the budget to use as bargaining chips against other cuts, such as personnel. So we the public are willing to trade off. and are so grateful to the politicians when their elections come around again. Cynical I know, but that's how most of them operate.
Dawn Balvin October 25, 2012 at 10:34 PM
I also as many commentors have written wouldn't mind paying a nomimal fee to go to the zoo, any ideas to keep it going are helpful right? As far as the pool goes, hasn't there always been a fee? I too, have many fond memories of my daughter and I spending many a wonderful day there, Thank you council members for work well done!
RockyPointDiver October 26, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Bargaining chips? Cynical? Yeah, I'd say. This may be a "popular" item, but if the board has to decide between a walking trail and a bunch of goats (yes, I'm exaggerating) vs. peoples' livelihoods and jobs that help the community at large, which way would you honestly say you expect them to decide?
Frank Nash October 27, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Great news! We non-residents of Brookhaven also appreciate the center and have brought our kids and now grandkids there many times. Where else do we have immediate access to mountain lions, eagles, buffalo, bears, etc...and for free. I always drop a donation in the jar when we visit and now will dig even deeper to continue donating. Thanks for your efforts.
Mary Lamb November 03, 2012 at 11:11 AM
How about the Youth Bureau free counseling program that saves the lives of Brookhaven teens experiencing bullying, cutting, depression, divorce, child and sexual abuse, and drug and alcohol use? Where is the support for this program that has been around for over 20 years and helps hundreds of families per year?

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