The Garden City Bird Sanctuary - A Vision
The Garden City Bird Sanctuary at Nassau County Stormwater Storage Basin #232 is located on Tanners Pond Road in the northwestern part of Garden City with an additional entrance from Nassau Haven Playground on Colonial Avenue. As a protected nature preserve, it is only open during limited hours, including Sundays from 1-5PM between March and October. For information write P.O. Box 7507, Garden City, NY 11530-7507 or call (516) 326-1720.
History and Purpose
SUMP-THING’S HAPPENING! From a neglected and trash filled stormwater basin, a community nature preserve is flourishing. The vision statement adopted by the grass roots community group was simply "to establish a local greenspace for the demonstration of environmental stewardship through education and volunteer community services." The concept developed into The Garden City Bird Sanctuary - a protected nine acre nature refuge at a County stormwater basin (sump) next to a local playground. Since the initial volunteer led site clean-up in 1995, over 2,500 people have been active in this effort to improve the environment and educate residents on the meaning of environmental stewardship in the community.
The initial work was done under a Nassau County Adopt-A-Spot program. Technical assistance came from Hofstra University. Funds were donated by local residents. The National Tree Trust awarded grants of seedlings under their Community Tree Planting program. Boy and Girl Scout troops joined to work at the Sanctuary. The enthusiasm continued to build and by 1996, "sump-thing" new began. Nassau County officially designated the sump as the ‘Garden City Bird Sanctuary.’
On April 27, 1996, Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta lead a formal dedication ceremony at the site, proclaiming it officially as “The Garden City Bird Sanctuary”. Village officials joined the nearly 200 people welcoming the birth of the new nature refuge. On November 19th, the County Executive returned to the Bird Sanctuary to hold a press conference where, because of the continued success of Garden City’s pilot project, he extended the program on a County basis to all interested communities. At the May 1997 Anniversary Festival, attended by over 300 guests, Nassau County installed a “Pride In Nassau’s Environment” sign at the entrance to reflect the continued support for the project.
In September 1997, the Bird Sanctuary received the “Outstanding Ecological Program” award from the Long Island Leisure Services Association. In 1998, the Bird Sanctuary celebrated an “Earthfest 98", continued development of a “Memorial Walk” of trees donated in honor or memory of loved ones, and formalized an exchange program with Clark Botanical Gardens to help guide planting of native species of trees and shrubs. A Merit Award was received from 1010WINS Radio\Genovese Drugs in November 1998 for the outstanding volunteer community effort.
Efforts to establish a flourishing, self-sustaining, nature refuge continue.
The NYS Department of Parks awarded a grant in 2000 for installation of signage
and markers. Nine Boy Scouts have completed Eagle projects at the bird sanctuary,
a Girl Scout earned a Gold Award in 2001, and school and church groups continue
to use the site for environmental education and community service. The Nassau
County Legislature authorized a full permit for use of the site in June 1999.
In 2000, a grant was received from the NYS Parks Department for educational
signs. An additional grant was received in 2002 for a new gate. Planned improvements
include a wetlands area, meadow, trails, benches, fencing, signs, as well as
appropriate trees, shrubs, and perennial flowers. The Garden City Bird Sanctuary,
Inc. is a certified 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible
in accordance with IRS regulations.
Dual Use of Stormwater Basins
Stormwater storage and recharge basins were initially designed by Nassau County
in the 1930's as an inexpensive means of reducing flooding problems in roadways
and developed areas. They also serve an important function of channeling precipitation
back into the groundwater aquifer system. Over the years, many of these basins
have ponded over and become mini-ecosystems providing greenspace in increasingly
congested suburban areas. These areas are critically needed open space refuges
for the songbirds that migrate annually along the Atlantic Flyway between Canada
and South America.
The Garden City Bird Sanctuary is the pilot for an innovative program to foster dual use of many of Nassau County’s 600 stormwater storage basins. As with the NYSDOT basin at Hofstra University, many of these sumps can serve as bird sanctuaries, nature preserves, passive parks, and recreational fields for local communities while still functioning to prevent flooding of roads.
A portion of Stormwater Basin #232 has been used as a soccer field by the Village of Garden City since 1971. In 1995, the effort began to convert the remaining nine acre area into a community based, volunteer sponsored bird sanctuary for environmental education and community services. Since this beginning, the East Meadow has had a small basin converted into a passive park, Kellenberg Schools created recreational fields, the Village of Floral Park has begun a 14 acre Community Nature Preserve and several sports organizations are sponsoring conversion of basins into ballfields.
The goal of the Garden City Bird Sanctuary is to establish a fully functioning nature refuge for song birds through the use of native plants and trees which provide food and cover. We are grateful for the support of the National Tree Trust, Village of Garden City, Western Property Owners Association, NY State Assemblywoman Maureen O’Connell, NY State Senator Kemp Hannon, Long Island Volunteer Center, Clark Botanical Gardens, Volunteers For Wildlife, Zonta Club, and Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary as well as donations by William H. Doremus, The Garden City News, Harder Tree Service, BPK Landscaping, Andrew L. Hult - Certified Public Accountant, and McMillan & Rather.