Animals Over Asphalt

Jan 30, 2019

To the Editor:

As a parent, part-time resident of Brant Beach, pet owner and environmentally responsible citizen, I have many objections to the application for the development of Bayview Park.

I have spent much of my life swimming in the waters and playing on the beaches that run the length of LBI. As a parent, I feel fortunate my two young children are able to do the same. My family and I have spent countless hours in the calm water of the bay beach at Bayview Park. I love that the bay beach is a short walk from our house and, if the tide is right, we can walk along the natural beach, noticing and appreciating the wildlife on the way. It is an opportunity for me to teach my children about the plants and animals living there and how to protect them.

Organizations, such as Alliance for a Living Ocean, for instance, have also made efforts to educate young children about wildlife conservation and environmental responsibility on this specific beach. During the summer, ALO runs programs free for residents and visitors that highlight local aquatic animals. All of this would lose its impact if the proposed area were turned into a parking lot.

As a pet owner and a parent, I recognize the need for separate places for each to play. There is already adequate space for dogs at the existing dog park. What concerns me is the proximity of the proposed dog park to the bay beach water because of its impact on the cleanliness of the water and the disruption to the wildlife living there.

Dog feces carry numerous viruses, bacteria and parasites that are incredibly harmful to children if ingested. One of the greatest risks to public health, especially in young children, is toxocariasis, which is a roundworm infection. It is a major source of environmental contamination. Young children are especially susceptible to due to their weaker and under-developed immune systems. If infected, this parasite can cause severe vision impairments and blindness in humans. An infected puppy can pass as many as 15,000 eggs per gram of fecal matter and the eggs can survive for up to three years in soil. Our dog is not permitted to relieve himself in the vicinity where my children or any others play.

I am a responsible pet owner; however, not everyone demonstrates the same level of care and concern for others. There are many pet owners who do not pick up after their dogs or respect the designated pet areas and the rules governing them. Allowing dogs to play near a natural water source and play space for children is irresponsible and unconscionable.

As an environmentally responsible citizen, the thought of another parking lot, especially an unnecessary one, saddens me. There is plenty of existing parking, but what we are short on are natural wetlands for native birds, fish, amphibians and insects. Destroying this ecosystem would not only be devastating for the wildlife that call it home, but the people who live nearby, enjoy it and work to protect it.

I’m not sure how to explain to my children that the local government prioritized a few parking spaces over the lives of animals that live there, except to say just that the local government prefers asphalt to animals.

This is an opportunity to make the right choice, the only choice, for the wildlife and the children who are learning to love Brant Beach as much as I do as they make their own memories. I urge those who care about the welfare of our children, the natural landscape of Brant Beach and the wildlife native to Long Beach Island to share their concerns with Mayor Mancini and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ-DEP-Division of Land Use Regulation, P.O. Box 420, Mail Code 501-02A, 501 East State St., Trenton, N.J. 08625-0420).

Elizabeth DeHaven

Winchester, Mass., and Brant Beach


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