(excerpt from letter to the Office of the Suffolk County Executive, Steve Levy)

I heard about Mr. Levy’s State of the County address on January 24th, obtained a copy and read through it.

One of my favorite expressions is, “None of us is as smart as all of us” and I was encouraged to hear him say that he would be seeking ideas from others.

If Mr. Levy is truly looking “for more visionary ways in which to grow our economy,” maybe he will give this some thought. Too many people “talk the talk”, but don’t “walk the walk,” when it comes to thinking outside the box.

So, if Mr. Levy is looking for bold ideas, here goes.

You mentioned a vision for a 400 acre parcel of land in Yaphank. One idea was a sports/recreation/entertainment facility.

Have you talked to Riverhead? It sounds familiar … like the nearly 3000 acres in Riverhead’s Calverton Enterprise Park.

The town has been wrestling with that property for about 8 years, looking for entrepreneurs, sending out RFPs, exploring every venue mentioned in your address et al. The results have been less than promising. The latest proposal for recreational development is a hotel/conference center/golf course complex with residential housing (luxury retirement, I believe) for an obscene price (on the low end). It hasn’t been approved yet, but the fact that they are even considering it is “amazing.” Perhaps your marketing agent will fare better.

But, since you are “reaching out to the community” for bold ideas, here is mine.

Nearly every child on Long Island would visit it (and their families) … in all likelihood, several times, over the years!

A zoo and animal sanctuary.

If it sounds familiar, it might be because I wrote to you in September, 2004, lamenting about the disinterest of Riverhead Town officials in the idea.

Please give this some thought. There is tremendous potential here. There is nothing like it on Long Island and it could be extremely successful.

The facility that I have in mind would be owned by the town or county and managed by a non-profit organization, similar to way New York City owns and manages the Bronx Zoo. Did you know …

- more people visit zoos in this country than all of professional sporting events combined?
- a “successful” museum or science center realizes 10% local attendance; a “successful” zoo achieves over 50% local attendance?
- New York State Education law Section 809 requires every elementary school that receives state funds to include instruction in humane treatment and protection of animals? (www.nyheart.org)

Most important, you will influence the minds and hearts of young people and inspire compassion. Not a bad legacy.

I have a website that elaborates on the idea at www.calvertonzoo.com.

If you want to do something notable for Suffolk County, all of Long Island, the people who live here and future generations, consider it.

-Sue Hansen
100 Rosewood Road
Rocky Point, New York 11778
(631) 744-5107