Today, the change at 87 Hawkes Avenue is breathtaking. In the space of three days, this site has gone from being woodsy to, well, being naked.
Here’s a before shot:
And now today:
Cresting the hill this evening above 87 Hawkes was a disorienting and demoralizing experience as all the trees along the roadway had vanished. Remember that old 1970s-era anti-pollution ad with the crying Indian? That’s how I felt.
I also couldn’t help but think of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s eloquent description of the trees surrounding her eponymous Little House: “The great dark trees of the Big Woods were all around the house and beyond them were other trees and beyond them more trees. As far as a man could go to the north in a day, or a week, or a whole month, there was nothing but woods. There were no people. There were only trees and the wild animals who had their homes among them.”
Okay, I get that I am being far too emotional and lyrical — Hawkes Avenue is not the deep woods, hasn’t been for centuries, and with three large condominium complexes nestled along it, one cannot argue that there are no people. But, I will say that until today, thanks to the plethora of decades-old specimen trees lining the roadway, you would have been hard-pressed to make an accurate estimate regarding the number of people living here. One could feel alone in these woods.
Today, the bucolic feeling of this neighborhood has been irrevocably changed and it is heartbreaking. How could this have happened? Of what point are zoning laws and environmental reviews and Comprehensive Plans and Planning Boards if something like this can happen? The citizens living here fought this plan as it inexorably advanced, but to no avail.
And, close by, there are several other large development plans in the works. Sunshine Home on the border of New Castle and Ossining, and River Knolls in Ossining are two of the largest and most potentially damaging to the environment and their neighborhoods. Just today, I understand, the Sunshine Home even started some sort of construction, despite not having Site Plan approval and three lawsuits against them.
If nothing else, I hope this blog will encourage people to pay attention, show up and fight such incursions. And over and over to ask the question of our elected and appointed officials – how does this sort of development benefit a town like Ossining?