Dems: Money’s there for Nature Discovery Center

Not on DASNY current list, but Sen. Weik will keep checking

Linda Leuzzi
Posted 7/22/21

A place for kids to climb? A music station? A space for mud pies?

You betcha!

A place where youngsters can emulate these nature activities is planned on the east side of new Bayport-Blue Point …

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Dems: Money’s there for Nature Discovery Center

Not on DASNY current list, but Sen. Weik will keep checking

Posted

A place for kids to climb? A music station? A space for mud pies?

You betcha!

A place where youngsters can emulate these nature activities is planned on the east side of new Bayport-Blue Point Library for their outdoor Nature Discovery Center for kids.

“It has seven learning stations,” said BBP Library director Mike Firestone of Nature Discovery Center, the project to be located on the former St. Ursula parcel. “There’s farming, gardening, outdoor music movement with drums and a xylophone, a climbing area low to the ground that is tree stumps side-by-side to teach balance, a messy materials area with soft sand, a nature art area with an art table and labyrinth, and a building blocks area.”

There’s also a water nature area.

“At the moment, that’s in a holding pattern,” Firestone said. “We’re moving forward, but don’t have the funding for its entirety. We’d envision a little stream and a pump where kids learn to pump water out of the ground. It would involve pipes and teaches how gravity works. At the moment, we’ll design the footprint.”

Firestone said the grant application was submitted early 2020; the $350,000 requested was for the Nature Discovery Center, plus additional landscaping. “Bids came in well above the projections, so the $350,000 would cover about 95 percent of the project,” he said.

Firestone is hoping this $350,000 State and Municipal Capital Project Grant promised by former Democratic Sen. Monica Martinez last October will come through. Martinez lost her seat to Republican Alexis Weik in November.

Martinez, now deputy regional director for New York State Parks for the Long Island Region, said the grant request was definitely submitted and the money is there.

“I worked hard to get that money. I heard rumors money wasn’t being found,” she told the Long Island Advance. “I called the Senate; the monies are there. I contacted [Sen.] Mike Gianaris (deputy majority leader) to make sure the money is in there and also Gov. Cuomo’s office for the Long Island region, so I have two sides on this. Because of COVID, the process was probably held up. They’re looking for it to see where the application is and what department it’s in.”

Landscaping and construction of drains, pavers and fencing, as well as the components, have to be contracted out, Firestone said.

Firestone said they will be going ahead with the plans, but the funding was an important part of the project. Money would be reimbursed after expenses are submitted upon project completion.

The nature center has to be certified by Nature Explore, a division of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Their outdoor classroom design services apply research-based, field-tested design principles.

“We sent them the plans for the project and they said it fits their criteria,” Firestone explained. “When we’re operational, we send them an application to be certified. Our architect went to a leader institute program on designing these, so he was very well versed. We touched base with them in late 2020 early 2021.”

Sen. Weik, who toured the new library site earlier this year, was contacted about the grant.

"The Bayport-Blue Point Library grant is not listed on the most updated list of projects currently in the approval process that I receive from DASNY [The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York]. I have repeatedly reached out to DASNY for updates on the status of this grant and others, and I will do everything I can to ensure the funding is ultimately delivered to the library."

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