Falling Short On Earth Day


By Barbara Shaw

The Earth Day/Earth Week annual observance just passed. It is a cogent reminder of what we, as citizens, need to do to safeguard the world we live in from our own predations. Curious to see how our schools embrace this learning experience of civic responsibility for the environment since my own now-grown children were in attendance here, I called to find out what programs were planned for the observance. I was told that outside of a possible assembly, no special projects, displays, essay writing, tree plantings, etc., were on the agenda.

I certainly expected that the guidance from the Great Neck Public Schools would have called for a significant commemoration of the date in keeping with the progressive social consciousness of the Great Neck community. We do look to our educators to recognize concerns about the health of the natural world in the hometown, the country and the world at large and to motivate our students to address such issues.

It seems we are falling short in encouraging enlightened citizenship in support of the environment in our schools when we downplay the need to be vigilant about the welfare of our surroundings with thoughtful Earth Day/Week programming. As that happens, it is not a surprising consequence that we also begin to make questionable choices for our peninsula’s ecological well-being.

Surely, one of those questionable choices is the misguided decision of the Board of Education (BOE) to pave over the precious green space of a playing field for an additional student parking lot when unlimited parking at Parkwood is but a few more minutes walk away. It is a repudiation of the teachings of Earth Day/Week and a capitulation to the indulgent want of a minority of decision makers for a small group of senior student drivers. Moreover, it is a serious disservice to the neighbors of the planned lot. They were never asked how they felt about having a parking lot dropped in their midst in place of trees and grass. Questions of adequate drainage after construction remain. Nor has a traffic study been conducted, which will assure the safety of students walking to school when 122 new student drivers converge into an already hopelessly clogged roadway at the start and end of the school day.

The Great Neck BOE’s initiative for Earth Day/Week should be to a) reclaim the playing field for continued use by diverting the drainage pipe from the upper parking lot to eliminate runoff into that field and b) to reallocate the more than $653,000 in the bond issue for destroying this green space to other critical educational and security priorities. Given the will and sincere creative planning, the BOE and the Great Neck North High School parent committees could solve the parking problems posed by an open campus just as easily at Parkwood as at Field 2 with no damage to the health and safety of the environment and at a fraction of the cost.

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