Let us set the record straight
In a recent flyer to Tenafly residents as well as lawn signs from a minority group opposing the proposed Education and Discovery Center, many inaccurate statements were made. While it is legitimate for people of good faith to have different views on how to progress, it is imperative that the public make well-informed decisions based on fact, not fear-mongering.
The opposition states that that the new building will cause “Forest Destruction”
After TNC’s proposal is fully implemented, there will actually be more trees rather than fewer trees at the Tenafly Nature Center, with two separate forested access points for visitors to enjoy a hike in the woods. Read more about the impact on trees of the TNC proposal.
The opposition states that the Hudson Avenue entrance would be “curtailed”. False
TNC wants to preserve the traditional Hudson Avenue entrance, parking lot, and the outdoor Pavilion. A new entrance along East Clinton will provide a second entry point so the 400 acre preserve can be more easily accessed.
The opposition states a new building would “increase the risk of flooding prime residential areas”.
Eighty percent of the proposed site off East Clinton drains to the Hudson River, away from any Tenafly homes, and the building is being engineered so that water from the building is collected and recycled. By contrast, the current Hudson Avenue site drains toward residents on Hudson Avenue and down into Tenafly.
The opposition states a new building will increase traffic and traffic safety issues on East Clinton Avenue.False
TNC’s visitor traffic does not overlap with peak morning or evening commuter traffic. School children arrive by bus for weekday programs beginning at 9:30 and ending before 3 pm. Public programs are scheduled on weekends. An East Clinton entrance and on-site parking with pedestrian walkways will improve traffic and visitor safety by accommodating all vehicles and solving the current problem of overflow parking on a steep residential street. Road improvements to East Clinton will enhance traffic safety for all motor vehicles.
The proposed building site would burden town services.False
TNC consulted with Borough’s fire and building code officials on life safety issues early in the design process. The flat site and entry drive accommodate fire fighting equipment access and turnaround deep into the site. Staff is on duty and programs are offered seven days a week and many evenings. In addition to security alarms and motion activated night lighting. Police and staff will continue to work together to patrol and protect the entire preserve by enforcing current rules and restrictions on activities permitted at TNC.
The opposition states a new building would involve costly road-widening that “would likely be a future burden on Tenafly Taxpayers”.
East Clinton Avenue is a County road, not a local road maintained by the Borough of Tenafly.
The opposition claims the new building as a “lavish $7 million event center is a super-sized 12,450 square foot structure” that is excessive.
The proposed center has the same square footage dedicated to administrative functions as TNC’s current center, but greatly expands space necessary to meet current accessibility requirements, program, education and exhibit needs determined over an eight year design and function review. The actual interior space is 7,950 square feet, with a large covered deck so that outdoor programs do not have to be cancelled in the event of inclement weather. The one-story building will be discrete and tucked into the woods. Funds are being privately raised and construction will not commence until donations are secured to cover building and maintenance of the proposed new facility.
The opposition states that any building on this land would be a breach of faith with the people who raised the original money.
The Green Acres Program of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has endorsed TNC’s relocation to East Clinton. In fact, NJ Green Acres has confirmed that an interpretive center on East Clinton is consistent with NJ Green Acres mission to protect open space and with the acquisition of the Lost Brook Preserve in 1975 to prevent the widespread development of hundreds of acres on Tenafly’s Eastern border. TNC’s proposal has been unanimously supported by all relevant Tenafly government bodies, and major local and state environmental organizations, including original funders: The Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, Palisades Interstate Park Commission, The Nature Conservancy, New Jersey Audubon and Sierra Club of New Jersey.
The oppostition claims the new building is a violation of the stewardship obligations under TNCA's lease.
After multiple public hearings and extensive debate, The Tenafly Council on September 10, 2013 unanimously approved an amended lease which provides that “The Mayor and Council of the Borough have determined that the maintenance and care of the Lost Brook Preserve and development of an Education Center on a portion of the land of The Lost Brook Preserve under the terms of this Lease will be of substantial benefit to the Tenafly community and to the public at large.”
The opposition claims that their plan “would be eminently feasible, less environmentally harmful, and less costly than the TNCA plan”.
The opposition “plan” is a one page schematic drawing of two proposed alternate sites for a new building at the top of Hudson Avenue with approximate location of existing structures and topographic features. TNC’s team of independent professionals (architects, civil engineers, surveyors and environmental consultants) carefully evaluated the opposition’s proposed sites. The experts ensured a valid comparison by assuming a building with the same square footage and number of parking spaces, and universal access throughout the site with a grade less than 5%.
Their investigation confirmed that both of the two Hudson Avenue sites recommended by the opposition would require massive blasting and re-shaping of the steep hill at the top of Hudson Avenue, directly adjacent to private properties on Stanton Road and Hudson Avenue. A comparable facility on Hudson Avenue would require: a 16 foot retaining wall; extensive blasting to remove over 20,000 cubic yards of rock--over 1500 truckloads; a standard parking lot clear-cut of trees (as opposed to the more sustainable and leafy East Clinton design); and suspension of virtually all onsite programming and public access for at least a year. TNC’s independent experts issued a comprehensive Environmental Assessment comparing the site proposed by TNC to those proposed by STGA.
The opposition claims that TNC's project would "open the door” to further uses of the land.
In accordance with its mission, TNC has always protected the land it stewards from intrusion. After construction is started on the new Center, no entity can compel any other construction during the term of TNC’s 24 year lease, and TNC cannot undertake any other development without the approval and consent of the Tenafly Council. In addition, since 90% of the land leased to TNC is federally protected wetlands, TNC does not believe that there are any other areas with access to a through street that would be suitable for development. Lastly, any proposed development would have to qualify as a permitted use by NJ Green Acres and undergo the same review and approval process TNC has followed with state and federal regulatory agencies and the borough, including a public hearing and comment period.
Saturday, September 20, 2014 • TNC Trails
Sunday, November 02, 2014 3:00 PM • TNC Visitor Center
Monday, November 03, 2014 1:00 PM • TNC Visitor Center