As part of the annual national “Make a Difference Day” celebrations on Saturday, Oct. 24, the entire community was invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the recently completed brick walkway surrounding Centennial Gardens and Bird Sanctuary in Floral Park.
The ceremony, which took place at 10 a.m., included the official unveiling of Centennial Gardens’ newest and largest addition to date at its main sign entrance and flagpole area near the corner of Floral Parkway and Raff Avenue. The Floral Park Conservation Society has annually participated in this national day of neighbors helping neighbors since its first ceremony dedicating the corner entrance and formal flag area.
“The building of our brick pathway is the culmination of over five years of planning, anxious waiting and finally almost unbelievably impressive work to bring us to this special day. The odds against this day ever taking place were solidly stacked against us,’ Dennis McEnery, the Society’s pro-bono counsel, said.
“Out of the hundreds of proposals submitted for funding under the Environmental Bond Acts of 2004 and 2006, only a few were chosen, and of all those, only but a handful received approval under both programs. There were many points along the path to this day that just one ‘no’ or ‘sorry, we can’t do it’ or ‘we won’t do it’ could have kept this idea or dream from becoming reality. Thank you to all who courageously said ‘yes we can.’”
The pathway took over 100 tons of bricks and hundreds of truckloads of sand and mortar, constructed in sometimes difficult weather conditions, to be completed. “We all should be proud of the legacy we are leaving generations to come and enjoy,” McEnery said.
“Make a Difference Day” appropriately focuses on all those who have contributed to the progress being made at Floral Park’s Centennial Gardens and Bird Sanctuary.
The new 2,100 foot long and four-and-a-half foot wide brick pathway installed this past summer and its surrounding plantings symbolize the continuing cooperative effort of government and public to transform the drainage basin into a beautiful passive nature park.
The project was primarily funded through the Nassau County Environmental Bond Acts of 2004 and 2006, and is one of the few projects in Nassau County to have been awarded support under both of those voter approved referendums. All those who have donated their time and resources to make Centennial Gardens such a success were invited to Make A Difference and Donor Appreciation Day Saturday, Oct. 24.
Centennial Gardens, bordered by Floral Parkway and Raff and Carnation Avenues, was formerly known as the Nassau County Storm Basin Number 120.
Some 10 years ago, then-mayor Steve Corbett entered into a lease agreement with Nassau County. “I daresay even Steve’s vivid imagination could not have envisioned the reality of what we enjoy today. The transformation from a utilitarian recharge basin, a sump, to what today is a valued beacon of community pride and a treasured oasis of peaceful solitude is an extraordinary achievement,” McEnery said.
The ongoing grass roots efforts have been developing a passive recreation site for all residents to enjoy. The 13-acre area, enclosed by a black estate fence, has garden spots with architectural embellishments, a variety of tree species and nature trails.
“One of the last architectural elements still missing, however, was a path to safely enjoy the outer and upper gardens,” McEnery noted.
This was rectified through McEnery’s determination in identifying qualifying uses in the Environmental Bond Acts of 2004 & 06. Thereafter, Legislators Vincent Muscarella and Rich Nicollelo negotiated the funding and secured the $250,000 grant required to build the ADA-compliant natural brick pathways.
The moment McEnery came to appreciate the positive impact this project has had on residents’ lives was a short conversation he had with an older gentleman near the main gate one recent Saturday morning.
After exchanging greetings with him, the gentleman commented on how wonderful the brick pathway was and how he now walks on it every day, knowing he can safely and easily stroll around Centennial Gardens, especially enjoying hearing the waterfalls on Raff Avenue and in the Garden of Remembrance on Carnation Avenue, McEnery said.
“The reason it was so deeply moving was because he is legally blind and he now can use his white walking cane to gently follow along the brick pathway without any fear or danger,” McEnery said. “Giving that one blind man the opportunity to enjoy this ADA-friendly brick pathway every day makes all our hard work worthwhile.”
Great progress has made Centennial Gardens and Bird Sanctuary a reality. Recent volunteer efforts of community members, for example, have included the construction of a new children’s playhouse, another project enhancing the Children’s Garden area. The Society’s regularly scheduled planting and garden work takes place on Saturday mornings between 8:30 a.m. and noon, weather permitting. If you can contribute or have any questions, please contact the Conservation Society’s president, Steve Corbett, at 352-5383.