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         August 27, 2004

Legislator Gonsalves Approves Environmental Referendum for November Ballot

Nassau County Legislator Norma L. Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) sponsored and approved a $50 million referendum aimed at saving the last remaining open spaces and preserving Nassau County's parklands. The unanimous approval by the Legislature means that the referendum will be placed on the ballot for consideration during the November 2nd elections. "We have expanded to all corners of Nassau County. This referendum will allow the County to provide a buffer against the suburban sprawl, maintain the purity of our groundwater, and protect environmentally sensitive areas for future generations," said Legislator Gonsalves.

The key component of the law would allow the County to purchase development rights to farmland and horse farms. Only five farms remain in Nassau County. Development rights would ensure that these farms remain for generations to come without the County exercising any maintenance costs.

A portion of the $50 million bond will be used for acquisition and improvement of the Nassau County parks system. Purchases of available land may be made to increase the size of parkland for both active and passive purposes. County facilities with playgrounds, athletic fields, outdoor concert sites, and equestrian capabilities may all benefit from the proposed referendum. Improvements to Nassau's recreational, historical, and museum facilities may also be made with portions of the bonds; however, routine maintenance to parks will not be covered under the agreement.

In addition to preserving County parkland, a portion of the funds generated will be used on clean water projects designed to protect Nassau's groundwater. Projects that construct or improve sediment collection basins, storm drain catch basins, and end-of-pipe treatment units will all be considered by the County if the referendum passes. Monies raised through the referendum may also be used to rehabilitate brownfields in Nassau County. These sites currently are unusable due to past contamination. Continued clean-up of sites will allow Nassau County to regain control of these lands, and put them to proper use within the communities. "The referendum, if passed by the voters will impact a wide range of programs. This is a very unique chance for the residents of Nassau to approve an environmental referendum that will not only preserve and reclaim land for future generations, but will protect our drinking water and parklands in the immediate future," added Legislator Gonsalves.

The County Executive will make proposals for any land acquisitions, clean water projects, or brownfield rehabilitations. Those proposals will be transmitted to the Nassau County Planning Commission and the Nassau County Open Space and Parks Advisory Committee (OSPAC) for review, evaluation, and recommendation. "Any proposals brought forth will have to go through a series of channels before being approved. This will allow a number of highly qualified individuals to ask questions or make recommendations in an effort to improve all programs. I am very pleased that the Legislature as a whole approved placing this referendum on the November ballot, its cost will be approximately $7 on each tax bill. That $7 will go a long way to improving the lives of all Nassau County residents, now and in the future," commented Legislator Gonsalves.

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