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Advocates seek TLC for Oceanside's marine study area

Guy Jacob, conservation chair of the Nassau Hiking

Guy Jacob, conservation chair of the Nassau Hiking Outdoor Club, left, stands with Jim Brown, President of the South Shore Audubon society and Diane Bentivegna, enviromentalist, right, near a damaged section of boardwalk while on a walking tour of the Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area. (Nov. 30, 2013) Credit: Steve Pfost

Hempstead Town officials are working to make improvements to the storm-battered Oceanside Marine Nature Study area, which was heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene and superstorm Sandy.

Letter-writing campaigns and petitions by educators and conservation advocates urge town officials to rebuild the infrastructure of the 52-acre salt marsh preserve.

"There are more and more people out there who are concerned about the future of this preserve," said Guy Jacob, a fifth-grade teacher in Valley Stream and conservation chairman of Nassau Hiking & Outdoor Club Inc.

The Marine Nature Study Area, on Slice Drive in Oceanside, was partially reopened in February after debris was removed from the trails.

Since then, advocates have asked the town to reconstruct interactive wooden display boards along walkways, replace the eastern boardwalk damaged in 2011 by Irene, replace a fly trap, and rebuild or renovate the museum and aquarium rooms.

"The study area is very distinctive in the opportunity that it affords us," said Diane Bentivegna, a retired literacy teacher, at last week's town board meeting.

Ronald Masters, commissioner of the town's Department of Conservation and Waterways, said the target for reconstruction of the display boards is May 1.

The fly boxes have been replaced and renovation of the remaining damaged pathway with synthetic boardwalk will begin this month.

The department is preparing a request for proposals to demolish some structures and build a classroom instruction facility.

"Our vision is to build more of a science facility, in addition to a small laboratory," Masters said.

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