Below, we have summarized answers to questions received during the community input process. If you don’t see an answer to your question, please email [email protected], and we will publish a response. Please note that we are not responding to questions not germane to the planning process or hostile comments that do not ask questions. Thank you for participating and sharing your thoughts!
Click here to view a spreadsheet of how those who have already sent letters or have attended community meetings weighed in on various parts of the proposal as of October 31.
Click here to view a slide deck of the presentation from the virtual event on October 27.
- Is the aim to turn Ooms into a suburban park?
- No, we want to maintain the natural beauty of Ooms and apply meaningful interventions so people of varying needs and abilities can enjoy the space. This project aims to make Ooms more accessible and welcoming for people with varying needs.
- Why Ooms for this type of project and not another CLC site?
- CLC received a grant from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program to replace the failing boardwalk and used this opportunity to investigate how we could address other community needs.
- How is this plan compatible with CLC’s mission?
- Building a robust and sustainable community of supporters for places like Ooms means making it possible for people with various needs and abilities to enjoy it. People who use wheelchairs. Parents pushing strollers. Folks who are not able to climb a steep hill but still enjoy watching wildlife. Kids who like flipping over rocks to look for salamanders. CLC believes it’s possible to fulfill all the parts of our mission – “conserving farmland, forests, and wildlife habitat” and “strengthening connections between people and the land.”
- Could neighbors go to a town board meeting and halt this plan?
- It’s not likely. CLC owns the land, and these activities do not necessitate planning board approval. CLC may need approval for any parking lot expansions or additional curb cuts.
- How much was the grant from the state, and what was its purpose?
- The original grant from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program was for $100,000 to replace the failing boardwalk and make the boardwalk more inviting to people of various abilities.
- How did CLC decide to work with Dirtworks?
- CLC issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) and received multiple bids per our organizational procedures. We evaluated responses based on cost, precedent experience, and merit.
- What permits need to be acquired?
- Once we have a completed Master Plan document, we will develop a set of Construction Documents and phasing plans after carefully reviewing the design priorities and budget. Once there is a set of Construction Documents, these go through the permitting process and go out to bid for installation.
- How long will this take?
- The First Phase of the Design process generally takes 3-6 months. The construction timeline is established after the scope of work is determined.
- Will CLC make an effort to use local materials/contractors?
- CLC and Dirtworks are committed to sustainable and resilient projects and using as many local materials and contractors as possible.
- How was public input solicited for this project?
- We hosted an in-person meeting at Ooms on 10/6 and a zoom meeting on 10/27. The CLC website has also been open to receiving comments and questions.
- Did CLC and Dirtworks staff vote on the survey at the digital meeting on 10/27?
- There were probably a few CLC staff and board members who voted, and their views are representative of the broader community. We anticipate that several of the attendees shown on screen represented multiple participants watching from a single login.
General site management
- How will CLC have the capacity to manage and maintain these improvements?
- Most of the improvements are designed to be more resilient and have lower maintenance than the existing infrastructure.
- How will CLC handle dogs? Increased waste?
- Educational signage will help people understand to respect the site and be good stewards of the land; this extends to their loving pets.
- Is CLC talking about opening Ooms at night with this moon circle?
- CLC has previously coordinated nighttime programming. There are no plans for Ooms to be open beyond dusk except for occasional CLC or partner programming.
- Is there an option for a more minimalist plan?
- Master planning is about big ideas. We are gathering feedback from the community about which ideas resonate best with our visitors and the environment. We will incorporate this feedback into the next phase of design.
- Will there be educational signage about the habitats at Ooms or the site’s agricultural history?
- Educational signage is a great idea. Thank you for suggesting it. We will look closely at this to see if it is possible.
- What about a bird observation tower?
- Good idea! We are now considering this.
- How about composting toilets or seasonal port-a-potties?
- We do occasionally have port-a-potties on site when there is a planned event. A permanent structure is unlikely as it likely would need daily cleaning, and we do not have the capacity for this.
- I’d rather see this closer to the parking area. Could that happen?
- Absolutely. We will consider the careful placement of all elements in the design, including the amphitheater. Based on our feedback, the amphitheater, if installed, would likely be closer to the parking lot.
- How much longer will the current boardwalk be closed?
- It is difficult to say without completing the Construction Documents and beginning the permitting process. Permitting may take several months. We hope a new boardwalk will be constructed in the fall of 2023.
- Will the boardwalk go all the way around the pond?
- This is a draft plan, and we are considering various options based on community feedback, cost, and site disruption.
- Will the boardwalk prevent amphibians from accessing the wetland?
- No. Animals can freely pass under (and over) the boardwalk to access the water. More information is available here: https://www.americantrails.org/resources/faq-vegetation-under-boardwalks.
- How long did the old boardwalk last? How long will the new one last?
- Materials and installation methods determine longevity; these two components have not yet been defined.
- How will you keep the boardwalk from freezing in winter?
- Drainage. The boardwalk will be floodable.
- How will you keep the beavers from eating the boardwalk?
- Beavers eat the cambium (green bark) in live trees and aquatic plants. They do not eat dry kiln wood. We would also note the boardwalk material has not been determined.
- Will the grazing cows impact the trails?
- Cows will not be located on a portion of the property with trails.
- How will you prevent cow/people interactions?
- We will fence the grazing area with temporary electrical fencing and install temporary signage (educational and cautionary).
- How will cows impact the grassland birds?
- The area where we anticipate cattle is currently dominated by invasives such as multiflora rose and Toringo crabapple. The cows should help restore this area and potentially increase habitat for grassland birds. This is very much a management-applied research project where we hope to engage researchers to help answer the question regarding whether cattle can benefit grassland birds. If the answer is yes, we could potentially positively impact many more acres across the region to benefit grassland birds.
- How will cows impact the grassland on site?
- The intention is to deploy the cattle in such a way that it will improve the health of the grassland. Grazing will be a more sustainable method than a fossil fuel-driven mower.
- What is CLC doing to manage the invasive species on site?
- Our management approach depends on the particular species, how extensive it is, and how likely an intervention will be successful. For instance, treating Japanese knotweed along a streamside is likely futile without addressing upstream sources.
- What is CLC doing to address climate change and landscape restoration on the site?
- The master plan focuses on enhancing resiliency and sustainability. Mitigation measures are unnecessary because the design does not call for eliminating any wetlands or grasslands. As the design advances, we may be able to incorporate and demonstrate native species for water quality protection or pollinator habitat.
- The current parking lot is too small and not in good condition – is there a plan to fix that?
- Yes, and even before some other planning gets started. We are planning to apply for an additional curb cut. This will allow maintenance equipment, better site access, and vehicles like school buses to enter. We also wish to address line of site issues to make it easier for people to enter and exit the parking lot.
- Will the wetland be dredged to build the boardwalk?
- Will any of the improvements mitigate the Harmful Algae Bloom in Sutherland Pond?
- Unknown. We continue to look into mitigation efforts to combat the algae blooms.
- Part of the pond is filling in. Is there any intent to dredge it?
- Will there be enhanced fishing access as a result?
- Yes. We will also ask DEC to consider stocking the pond as a public benefit.
- Will kayaks and canoes be available at the pond? Or will you expect people to carry their watercraft?
- People should bring their watercraft to Ooms. Due to liability concerns, CLC can not provide personal equipment. We could consider a partnership with a kayak rental group, provided liability is addressed.
- How will you prevent swimming if you add a fishing pier?
- There will be signage noting no swimming.
- Do the swings have to go on the ridgeline? Could they be located somewhere less visible?
- The placement for any plan elements is not final; this is a draft design. We will carefully consider the placement of all components, such as furnishing, in the design. One suggestion has been to relocate the swings closer to the parking lot.
- Why fix the muddy trails? Can’t people just wear waterproof gear?
- Many people can not access trails of this type, and we hope to provide trails to a greater breadth of people with varying abilities.
- Keeping it muddy results in more erosion over time, harming the wetland, fish, and wildlife.
- There are lots of springs in the ground. How will CLC keep the trails from eroding?
- We will consult with trail experts on the proper placement of the trails. In consistently wet areas, we may use different trail construction techniques to fortify trails and prevent them from washing out.
- Will these trails be paved?
- Will sensory needs be considered along the trails?
- Won’t all this increased visitation impact wildlife?
- We do not anticipate increasing visitation numbers so high that it impacts wildlife.
- How will construction impact wildlife? Grassland birds, raptors, amphibians?
- The construction team will take measures specific to the species in the area. We work with ecological scientists and ecologists to ensure that construction practices do not harm wildlife. We also employ monitoring practices throughout the construction to ensure the safety of all species.
- Will osprey still nest at Ooms?
- Though ospreys are frequent visitors to Sutherland Pond and CLC has installed a nesting pole, they have never nested at Ooms.
- Has CLC done a sustainability study to determine how increased fishing might impact the fish populations?
- The pond primarily has bass and panfish. We don’t anticipate anglers overusing the pond and adversely impacting the fish population. We will continue to emphasize stewardship and respect for the land.