Lowey Secures Millions To Fund Remediation Effort
Almost forty years ago, the U.S. Army closed Fort Slocum on Davids Island. Since then, redevelopment proposals have come and gone – some large, some small, all stirring passionate debate, but none leaving any trace of change on the island itself. Instead, nature has slowly and steadily reclaimed the former military base. Today, Davids Island has a mysterious beauty, with once-tidy roads and lawns covered completely by woods, buildings open to the elements and gradually crumbling into dust, trees growing through marble staircases into eerie twisted forms, and everywhere the discarded odds and ends of human habitation, left about as though the island had been evacuated on sudden notice, and largely untouched for decades. It is a place ruled by wind and waves, by memory and by ghosts.
Most people recognize that a seventy-eight acre island in the heart of Long Island Sound has extraordinary value, but the high cost of cleaning up Davids Island, estimated to be some $20 million (not to mention the even greater additional cost of providing access and infrastructure), has been a huge obstacle to reclamation of the site for public use. As a result, even though Davids Island is hardly more than a stone’s throw from our shoreline, it has remained tantalizingly out-of-reach.
Now, thanks to Congresswoman Nita Lowey and the Army Corps of Engineers, and with the strong support of the City and County governments, a full-scale clean-up of the Island is underway. Facilities with historic value will be preserved if possible and commemorated if not, while other structures will be gradually cleared from the site. The Congresswoman has already secured several millions of dollars for this purpose, with more likely to come in the years ahead. We are also pursuing the possibility of State financial assistance to accelerate the environmental remediation process.
The County and City have reached preliminary, conceptual agreement on the establishment of a County Park on Davids Island once clean-up is completed. While many details and much hard work remain before this goal can be realized, it is exciting to consider the eventual return of human presence to this uniquely beautiful location.