re-PLANTING CULTIVATES REFLECTION AND RETHINKING OF GLENWOOD LANDING WATERFRONT
April 29, 2015 -- Residents filled the meeting room of the Glenwood Community Church this past Earth Day, Wednesday April 22, for re-PLANTING, an open community event, sponsored by Glenwood Arts. The exhibition was in part a memorial service for the Glenwood Landing Power Plant station two, the iconic beaux arts building with its six smoke stacks that dominated the Glenwood waterfront for nearly a century, as well as a celebration of the earth and, as event organizer Greg Sturge put it, an opportunity to "germinate new ideas and fertilize existing ones about how to nurture creative and environmentally sound growth in Hempstead Harbor and surrounding communities" and to "start a dialogue about what happens in the power plant's absence." Fittingly, the second of the two six story twin towers of steel beams that had once housed the generators and supported the brick facade, and that had been standing naked since late winter, was felled the day before the event, completing the building's demolition.
The art, film and photographs on display traced the history of the Power Plant, from its construction, through its heydey during mid-century as a generator of Long Island's rapid development, to its demise on Earth Day eve. Much of the video and photographs were provided by Gramercy, the company contracted by National Grid to dismantle the plant, and Sara Caponi, who has documented the plant's nearly two year long demolition, from her early 19th century home on Ram's Hill that has borne witness to Glenwood Landing's changing waterfront for more than two centuries. Much of the artwork on display reflected local artists' appreciation for the plant's geometric forms and the strange beauty that can often be found in industrial landscapes.
During the second half of the event, which was emceed by Glenwood resident Bill Mozer, a dozen community members, speaking from the church pulpit, offered their thoughts on a variety of topics that emphasized the importance of community and that collectively juxtaposed the history of the power plant against the emergence of the modern environmentalist movement, while also considering the future of the site.
"Let's look at this as a rebirth. We can see the harbor again; the sky can breathe," remarked Joan Harrison, who helped organize the event, coordinating the photography and artwork. "Glenwood Landing is really a special place, it is a place that needs to be preserved."
Ms. Caponi, explained that her grandfather had worked for LILCO for 43 years, and that for her entire life the power plant always was there. "I will miss it in a sense," she said. "I can't get over the fact that it's not there." But she also added, "We now have a wonderful view of the harbor."
Addressing the theme of environmentalism and community, Sea Cliff Resident Nedra Bleifer spoke of her efforts through the Sea Cliff School PCA, to bring Farmigo, a Brooklyn based Benefit Company that delivers fresh, seasonal and sustainable produce sourced from local farms to Sea Cliff. The service allows community members to purchase vegetables, meats, and other food items on-line, and to pick up their orders a few days later at Sea Cliff School. Anyone, not just Sea Cliff Elementary parents, are welcome to join the Sea Cliff produce purchasing community.
Mr. Mozer talked about promoting community through his starting the Glen Head Glenwood Sea Cliff Brookville Roslyn Harbor Greenvale Neighbors Facebook group. Later, he read a history of the plant, from the Nassau Power and Light Company's purchase of the property in 1904, through the beginning of construction in 1928, and its completion a few years later helping to power Long Island's rapid development during mid-century.
"We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune," said Sea Cliff resident James Foote, known far beyond this area for his Teddy Roosevelt impersonation, quoting the 26th President from a speech he gave nearly two decades before entering the White House. Mr. Foote spoke of TR's efforts to protect this country's natural treasures from exploitation and over-development. “The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value," he quoted from a later speech Mr. Roosevelt gave as Vice President in 1901.
Karin Barnaby, also of Sea Cliff, and who launched a petition drive, that garnered nearly a thousand signatures, in an effort to save the historic building from the wrecking ball, spoke of what other communities have done in transforming industrial spaces to community uses - in particular the clairol plant in Connecticut that was repurposed into a sports complex by Chelsea Piers. "Glenwood Landing has no access to its waterfront!" she declared. "Imagine with me. Come up with a vision. . . Let's imagine together as a community what can be done. You have power if you pull together."
County Legislator Delia Deriggi-Whitton, whose district wraps around Hempstead Harbor from Glen Cove to Port Washington, spoke of her efforts, working together with Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy, to secure grant funding for the Sea Cliff Sewer line and for the Scudder's Pond restoration project. The efforts, she said, would help create a cleaner Hempstead Harbor.
Mr. Sturge, who founded Glenwood Arts in 2009, described re-Planting as truly "a community event in which everyone chipped in - artists and residents young and old." The exhibition, he continued, was about "putting opposites together - a Power Plant and Earth Day," and to consider "the possibility of that space being something else."
Glenwood Arts is an Opaloo community supported open learning lab, fostering interaction and inter-connectivity between groups and ideas since 2009. Learn more at www.opaloo.org
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