Islip, NY – The Town Board unanimously passed legislation Tuesday night to establish a new public-private partnership with Seatuck Environmental Association for the management of the south Shore Nature Center.A $26 million fiscal crisis forced Town officials late last year to temporarily de-fund the SSNC. Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and Councilman Anthony Senft formed an advisory council with environmentalists, community groups, and concerned citizens to find solutions to reopen the center under the fiscal constraints.
“I am elated that we have been able to reach a solution through an open dialogue with members of the community,” said Councilwoman Bergin Weichbrodt. “Partnering with Seatuck will allow the SSNC to continue to exist as a lasting legacy of Islip’s natural history and wildlife preservation.”
Seatuck Environmental Association will assume the responsibilities of managing and maintaining the SSNC, based on the organizations long standing record of environmental stewardship. The Town Board measure authorizes a three year contract with Seatuck.
“Our financial reality forced us to make tough decisions that affect these kinds of recreational amenities. The Town simply didn’t have the funds available to continue to operate Center in the same way.” said Councilman Senft. “The dedicated members of the Advisory Council worked with us to find cost effective solutions that allows us to both work within our means as well as continue public enjoyment of this natural resource.”
The South Shore Nature Center Advisory Council was formed several weeks ago by the Town Board members in an effort to seek solutions with public collaboration. In addition leadership by Bergin Weichbrodt and Senft, groups represented on the panel included the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Great South Bay Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, For the Kids Foundation, the East Islip Historical Society, East Islip School District, AWP Business Development Group, and several concerned citizens and patrons of the SSNC.
“Councilwoman Bergin Weichbrodt and Councilman Senft, along with the entire Advisory Board, deserve all of our praise from everyone who values Islip’s outdoor spaces,” said Supervisor Tom Croci. “They have found a seamless solution to a problem that once threatened the enjoyment of some of our most pristine natural resources.”
Seatuck has already committed to holding year-round public events at SSNC, as well as maintaining a line-in caretaker on staff to help manage the day-to-day tasks needed for park upkeep. In addition, Seatuck has already reached out to local educational and charitable organizations to lay the groundwork for an all-volunteer trail-maintenance program.
“For more than three decades, the SSNC has been a vital sanctuary for wildlife and an invaluable educational and recreational resource for the citizens of Islip. Seatuck is excited to have an opportunity to help ensure the facility continues to serve these important roles for many years to come,” said Enrico Nardone, Executive Director of Seatuck.
“We are excited about the potential of this partnership and we thank the Town Board for providing Town residents the opportunity to ensure that the SSNC continues as a unique educational and environmental resource,” said Lenora Daniel, who represented the great South Bay Audubon on the Advisory Council.