Richard’s Almanac: What almost happened here

COURTESY PHOTO | Mashomack Forest. Map shows conception of how Mashomack Forest was to be developed.

COURTESY PHOTO | Mashomack Forest. Map shows conception of how Mashomack Forest was to be developed.

Recently, I figured that I would take advantage of the great weather we’ve been having by taking a walk through Mashomack Perserve. I examined the trail map and decided that the red trail was best. I have not been doing any training and felt that the one-and-a-half-mile hike was perfect. My walking buddy Dorothy agreed.

It had been a long time since I was last on this trail, but not much had changed. I am always amazed at how clear and pure the water looks in the kettle holes. I am also very impressed with the obvious care that’s been taken to make the trails so perfect.

Mashomack Preserve is indeed a very special place and we on the Island are fortunate to have this 2,039-acre preserve in our backyards.

Purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 1980, this tract of virgin forest had almost become victim to the developers’ bulldozers a few years before.

According to a story in this newspaper in 1973, “the unique plan would provide 1,100 units and retain bulk of tract in open space.

“It was announced Saturday by executives of the newly-formed Mashomack Forest, Inc. that some 1,100 families will ultimately be housed in the 2,200-acre tract that since the 1920s has been a private hunting ground and wildlife preserve. The development of this largest  untouched stand of land on Long Island, second in size only to the privately held Gardiner’s Island, is expected to take place over a 10-year period,” according to the Reporter.

It was explained that the owners of the property were spending some $100,000 per year in taxes and it was becoming a hardship.

But we all know that the plan was never realized and the acreage was purchased by The Nature Conservancy. I remember the campaign to purchase the property and many Islanders made donations to help pay for the large tract that makes up one-third of the Island.

The benefits are many. Let’s hope that we continue to grow in such a well planned manner.

I do know that the subject of a bridge is anathema to just about everyone. There was a time, however, that a bridge almost became a reality — in the 1930s — but the plan was scrapped because of the outbreak of World War II. It was discussed in the 50s and 60s but never got anywhere. I guess  because as the Island became more of a vacation community, the ferries added to its charm.

I remember seeing an old photograph of a coffin on a sled being hauled to Greenport because the bay was frozen (no ferries) and the body had to get to a funeral home. I believe that the picture was used to convince the feds to build a bridge.

There were predictions made in 1960 by real estate broker and prominent citizen Gregory Price that population would increase significantly in 25 years. He predicted building a larger school. He also saw bridges connecting the North and South Forks as inevitable and the Island turning into a suburban community. Greg wrote his predictions in the November 5, 1960 edition of the paper.

So let’s be thankful that the changes did not take place. And let’s make sure that our public officials want to maintain the quality of life here.

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