By MICHAEL W. DOMINOWSKI
The calendar has opened a new year; the season has changed – and so has the Greenbelt Conservancy!
During the coming months of 2019 we will be celebrating some notable anniversaries of events that made the Greenbelt the largest all-urban parkland in America.
- The Greenbelt was designated as parkland 35 years ago.
- It has been 30 years since the Conservancy was formed.
- It is the 20th anniversary of the beautiful classic Victorian Carousel For All Children in Willowbrook Park.
- And the Greenbelt Nature Center opened its welcoming doors 15 years ago.
The Conservancy has been preserving Staten Island’s great outdoors since 1989. Our education program has been acclaimed a national educational landmark. Our programs, such as our summer camp, provide a lifetime of memories. Ask anyone who’s been there. Our partnership with NY City Parks reaches every corner of the Greenbelt and improves the quality of life for all Staten Islanders.
The Greenbelt is the legacy of environmentalist giants, onetime Staten Islanders Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Law Olmsted, William T. Davis and John G. Mitchell.
In the Greenbelt, fun and adventure in Staten Island’s great outdoors are to be found all around you. On our 35 miles of well-marked trails you can cross over the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard. You can walk through a Revolutionary War battlefield. You can stroll into the setting of a famous painting by Hudson River School artist Jasper Cropsey.
We have ponds aplenty, and even a glacial lake. We have a mountain (sort of) with an easily accessible summit and stunning panoramic views. We have a supposedly haunted valley. You can visit ruins of homesteads and mills and dreams overtaken by a forgotten past. Our hills and wetlands are a mecca for birds and a magnet for birders.
In our Nature Center you will find an endless stream of activities and events, many of them geared for families with young children.
You can also rent our facilities for your own event or party (members get a steep discount).
Our newly redesigned website will bring you not only notices of activities and news about the Greenbelt, but tales of woodland lore, educational articles, and tips for making the most of your Greenbelt experience. And we will be taking a new look at the old, recounting in a series of vignettes the inspiring story of how your Greenbelt came to be.
The Greenbelt was never supposed to be a park. It had been earmarked for destruction, to be replaced by a collection of highways, until Staten Islanders said “No.” As one of the Conservancy’s longtime board members, Christopher H. Benbow, scion of one of our founders, put it, “The Greenbelt is truly a park established by and for the people.”
Be part of something bigger
It has never been easier to become a member of the Greenbelt Conservancy and support our work. If you register for one of our major running events or one of our social get-togethers, a one-year membership in the Conservancy will be automatically included.
If you are already a member, your membership – with all the benefits – will be extended for a year – for free!
We want everyone to share the delights and wonders of the splendid facilities and woodland trails in the more than four square miles of public green space called the Greenbelt. It is your Greenbelt, after all. And it is all yours to enjoy!
Meanwhile there’s much important work for all of us to do. So come join us. Lend a hand! We’re looking forward to meeting you, during this Year of the Greenbelt, in Staten Island’s great outdoors!
Michael W. Dominowski is a member of the Conservancy’s board of directors.