Those looking to honor and remember Bellport High School teacher Art Cooley again are invited to celebrate the 13-acre Art Cooley Memorial Preserve, the new name of the former Bianchi/Weiss …
Those looking to honor and remember Bellport High School teacher Art Cooley again are invited to celebrate the 13-acre Art Cooley Memorial Preserve, the new name of the former Bianchi/Weiss Greenhouses Superfund site in East Patchogue, purchased and now managed by the Post-Morrow Foundation.
The designation will take place officially on Saturday, Sept. 2, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Post-Morrow Foundation in Brookhaven Hamlet, with a gathering including wine, cheese, and music.
A vibrant science teacher of ornithology and advanced biology from 1956 to 1989, Cooley was an environmental lightning rod for students. He led them tramping along trails or gliding in canoes to the area’s nature preserves and rivers, pointing out the various wildlife that flew past or peeked out, personally engaging students with their lives and habits. He also discussed issues in the classroom, urging his charges to come up with solutions and helped found Students for Environmental Quality at Bellport High School, in 1970, as environmental issues were coming to the forefront among other initiatives. He died in 2022.
“We started discussing the name around the time we were in the process of acquiring the preserve,” explained Post-Morrow vice president Tom Williams.
“We’ll cut about a half-mile grass trail around the perimeter within the next couple of weeks,” said Williams. And, of course, an Art Cooley Memorial Preserve sign. The property will be maintained with native plants and grasses.
Located at Orchard and Hedges Road, the land was previously used for commercial growing purposes from 1929 to 2005. Undeveloped and zoned for residential use, in December 2006, during site demolition of buildings by the owner, concerned neighbors contacted local officials about potential health concerns, namely pesticides. A Department of Environmental Conservation cleanup was conducted between 2015 and 2016.
It became a county land bank parcel, and when Legis. Dominick Thorne (R-Patchogue) came into office and was briefed on the listed properties, he chose the site to work on with Post-Morrow. The land had gone into tax lien; Post-Morrow purchased it for $10,000.
“I live up the street from Orchard and my parents’ home bordered the property,” said Susan Shiebler. “My mom and dad fought for its preservation for years, met with the builders, and wanted it to remain what it is.” Shiebler pointed out that new families of deer and groundhogs have now made it their home, along with Italian wall lizards.
Proceeds from the event will support the foundation’s mission to protect the environment of Brookhaven Hamlet and surrounding areas like this one. Reservations will be held at the door. For tickets, click online at http://postmorrow.org. Online sales will close Aug. 25. Call 631-286-0686.