Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tenafly Oks Lease for Nature Center

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tenafly Oks Lease for Nature Center

Article excerpt

TENAFLY -- The Borough Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a new 24-year lease for the Tenafly Nature Center, clearing the way for the center to apply for federal approval for its new education center.

"This lease is contingent on them building a center," Mayor Peter Rustin said.

The new site now needs approval from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the construction plans, when completed, will have to get the borough Planning Board's go-ahead.

Tenafly Nature Center overseers say they're confident they will get the necessary approvals and will now begin raising money for the project.

"Every local, state and federal agency that has reviewed our proposal has approved it either formally or conceptually," said Michael Neus, president of the Tenafly Nature Center Association's board of trustees. "We're confident approval will be forthcoming as soon as we complete the formal application process."

Tuesday's vote followed the council's vote on a resolution this month to approve construction of the new center, change of use in the Lost Brook Preserve, sponsorship -- but not funding -- of the project and an amendment of the Lost Brook Preserve's rules to permit construction.

The Tenafly Nature Center's mission is to preserve the nearly 400 acres of forest and educate visitors about nature and the environment. Center administrators say the current 3,500-square- foot site is struggling to accommodate its 23,000 annual visitors. It has one classroom and parking space for 17 cars, and its steepness makes it difficult to access for seniors and the disabled.

Critics of the project argue that the proposed location in the preserve should be left in its natural state. They say the 2-acre development of the new center will disturb wildlife and destroy vegetation.

"Unfortunately, it is because of the Tenafly Nature Center board of directors' preference to relocate its new center near Kent Road, many of these beautiful trees and ecosystems will be annihilated," said Gerald Nigro, who formed Save Tenafly Green Acres, which opposes the project. …

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