Date of Award
Edward Van Buren
As far back as I can remember the east end of Long Island has been a favorite vacation destination for my family. Taking a ride “out east” in the spring to pick strawberries and in the fall to fill the trunk with pumpkins were annual events for our family. In the summer months we would visit friends of mine, fortunate enough to own vacation homes on the North Fork, to enjoy a multitude of water sports and beach activities on and alongside the Great Peconic Bay. Yet, beyond these lifelong memories, the aspect which truly amazes me has been the sheer amount of physical change on the east end in just my short lifetime.
My first memories of the east end landscape were of endless farmlands, rows and rows of corn fields and vineyards. It was an immensely rural area, so vastly different from the fully developed suburbs of Nassau County in which we live. There were many wooded areas and untouched natural landscapes along the two lane main road we would follow to our destination. Stores and businesses were few and far between so out of necessity we would pack a cooler of drinks and a picnic lunch to enjoy during our travels. I remember as a child looking out the back window of our car and feeling as though we had ventured for days into the countryside when in reality we had only driven one short hour to the east.
Over the years the countryside has, at first gradually, but with quickening rapidity changed to the chagrin of many long time residents. The two lane highway ballooned into four, including a four lane traffic circle designed to maintain the flow of a profound volume of traffic. The natural wooded lots and open fields have been replaced by strip malls comprised of national chain stores and one too many 7-11s. Fast food restaurants are sprouting at random like saplings and many a corner lot now holds a large drug store or the sparkling new automobiles of car dealerships. They say change is good, but at what cost to the environment? That is the question many environmental groups are beginning to ask today including the Group for the East End which focuses specifically on the multitude of changes taking place throughout the area.
Riley, Brian, "Group For the East End: The Role of Childhood Environmental Education in Improving Learning Behaviors and the Health of Humans and the Environment" (2012). Student Theses 2001-2013. 23.