We want to enjoy our backyards 
Long Island Advance July 19, 2007

Summer is here and people are able to once again enjoy the outdoors—except for those who live near the re-opened Suffolk County Trap & Skeet Gun Range in Yaphank. There, people will be forced to take refuge in their homes and hopefully hear less gun noise, rather than being able to enjoy a beautiful day outside because of the range’s overbearing presence.

The range exists in the Core Pine Barrens Preservation Area, which is managed by the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission. It is baffling that this commission, comprised of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Brian X.  Foley, Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale, Southampton Supervisor Patrick Heaney, and DEC Director Peter Scully has not exercised its right to take jurisdiction of the very land it is chartered to protect.

Brookhaven Town Environmental Protection head John Turner claimed that Brian Foley wanted to make a motion for the commission to take jurisdiction of the land on which the range exists, but that there was no support from the two East End supervisors; John Cardinale of Riverhead and Patrick Heaney of Southampton. But when phone calls were placed to Cardinale and Heaney, it was Cardinale who took the time to speak at length with residents expressing his understanding of the situation and that he was not happy about the inaction of the commission, and that he adamantly expressed his support for having the commission act accordingly.  We are assuming that Peter Scully is interested in having the commission take jurisdiction of the range given the swift actions taken by him to close the range in 2001 after exercising his right as then acting Suffolk County Parks Commissioner to enforce the terms of that vendor’s license agreement, which was so flagrantly violated.

Surely no commissioner can condone the marginalization of two entire neighborhoods, a county park, and an ecosystem by an entity which exists in violation of a number of laws, not the least of which are the very same laws the Pine Barrens Commission is sworn to uphold. The Pine Barrens Commission has the power of the law on its side and myriad reasons for taking action. So what’s the problem? We are not seeking to ban sport shooting, or compromise anyone’s Second Amendment rights. All we want is to have the peace we are as entitled to as any other homeowner would be. We want to be able to use our backyards as others do without listening to a battlefield soundtrack all day.

Someone else besides John Cardinale needs to stand up and assert themselves at the commission and put an end to this nightmare once and for all. We simply wish to live life peacefully just as you do.

Doug and Joanne Steigerwald