“The best way to enjoy Earth Day in America’s largest township is by visiting our parks,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino at a recent Earth Week event, adding that “Neighbors can learn about conservation and sustainability through the more than 1,400 acres of parkland in more than 90 parks located across our township.”
Santino, who took office in January, has made environmental conservation a cornerstone of his administration. The Supervisor noted that Earth Day has expanded into Earth Week in recent years and also spoke about President Theodore Roosevelt, a fellow Long Islander, and his commitment to conservationism, which TR believed was “a fundamental law that neither man nor nation can prosper, in dealing with the present, thought is steadily taken for the future.”
Santino outlined Hempstead Town's efforts to increase residential recycling, as well as to reduce the town's use of electricity produced at fossil-fuel power plants by installing alternative-energy sources wherever possible, including solar panels on Town of Hempstead Hall.
Just yesterday, Supervisor Santino and the town opened a free, state-of-the-art electric car recharge station for residents that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Point Lookout that was funded by federal grant money. Last week, Santino and other Hempstead Town officials heralded the town’s progress at replacing 50,000 conventional high-pressure sodium streetlights with energy efficient L.E.D. fixtures that will save Hempstead Town taxpayers $43.1 million over the next twenty years.
Hempstead Town's Sustainable Energy Park was created by Santino and many current members of the Hempstead Town Board to be a location reflective of similar goals. That facility, Long Island's only such park, has incorporated numerous solar applications, a 100K wind turbine and a smaller wind turbine, a series of geothermal wells which provide cooling and heating to town offices, and Long Island's only hydrogen fueling station.
At the same time, Hempstead Town continues to explore the addition of tidal energy at this center for education, demonstration and research advancement. A particularly unique feature of this facility is the fact that the hydrogen fueling station leaves no carbon footprint in producing hydrogen. Rather, the catalyzer is powered by an iconic wind turbine that visitors to our beaches and the barrier island can see for miles.
Another practical application at the facility witnesses Long Island's highest yield government shellfish nursery, powered by wind, solar and tidal action. A final practical application features a series of solar powered electric vehicle charging stations that the town makes available to residents at no charge. While the Energy Park is the locus of clean energy projects, I’ve helped oversee more than ten other town facilities have incorporated sustainable energy into meeting power needs.
Harnessing the environment for sustainable energies helps promote conservation. Other initiatives that distinguish Hempstead Town as a leader in sustainability, conservation and environmental protection this Earth Day and year-round include efforts to keep waterways clean, educational seminars to promote homeowner use of sustainable energy sources, planting sea grass to halt beach erosion, developing strategies to protect natural resources and reduce greenhouse gases as well as legislative and policy initiatives to protect drinking water.
With regard to protecting bays and waterways, Hempstead Town’s record is impressive. Supervisor Santino pointed to the installation of hundreds of storm drain filters, keeping debris and contaminants out of area waters. In addition, the municipality has in the past partnered with local Scouting groups, placing "no dumping" medallions on over a thousand storm drains. Also, a partnership between Hempstead Town and local environmental advocates have made great strides in keeping waterways clean and removing debris from our back bays.
Even before becoming Supervisor, Santino was one of our region’s foremost advocates for the long-needed Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant Ocean Outflow Pipe, leading the fight to upgrade, enhance and improve the operations of Nassau County’s Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant – for almost a decade pre-Hurricane Sandy, before the plant began leaking raw sewage into our canals, bays and waterways.
Additionally, the Supervisor is an ardent supporter of the state or federal government using money to construct a long-needed Ocean Outflow Pipe from the facility into the ocean. That will improve the quality of our local waters by decreasing the amount of nitrogen in it.
Expanding use of sustainable energy and increasing home energy efficiency throughout our town are keys behind the town's numerous solar energy and home efficiency seminars. These "how-to" programs offer instruction and details on rebates and other financial inducements. What's more, the town has adopted energy star homes legislation.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we've partnered with Hofstra University, the United Way, Empower Solar and others to offer a "Rebuild Right" seminar. The program helped Sandy victims rebuilding after the storm to adopt "best practices" in rebuilding storm-decimated houses.
Reducing the amount of toxic material entering the waste stream is at the center of a variety of town programs. Hempstead Town’s STOP Program collects household hazardous waste and properly disposes of such materials. An outgrowth of this initiative, our township has established E-cycling events to recycle computers and other electronic devices. This effort is keeping nickel, cadmium, lead and other hazardous materials from entering the waste stream. Prescription medication disposal programs, mercury thermostat recovery, boat shrink-wrap recycling and fishing line recycling are all part of the town's initiatives to keep our planet "cleaner and greener.”
“I've made a healthy environment a cornerstone of my agenda for Hempstead Town's future. Conservation, environmental protection, sustainability and clean energy are important elements for our families and future. Thanks to these efforts by Hempstead Town, and the hardworking men and women of our workforce, we are doing our part to solve what President Roosevelt termed the greatest issue of our time,” concluded Supervisor Santino.