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Letter to the Editor: Day Camp Fight Has Obscured Little Fresh Achievement

Ordinary people living on or near the pond have done something extraordinary, Robert W. Goldfarb writes.

Something has been lost amid the noisy conflict between Jay Jacobs, who has requested permission to build a day camp on property bordering Little Fresh Pond, and .

Numerous full-page ads paid for by Mr. Jacobs defending his right to build a camp, , lawyers for both sides issuing claims and counterclaims, (chairman of the New York State Democratic Party) asking $45 million from two local residents and voices raised at town zoning board meetings have obscured something far more important. 

Ordinary people living on or near the pond have done something extraordinary: They banded together to save a body of water that was at risk of becoming polluted. 

Politicians and lobbyists unable to agree on how to lead an anxious nation from recession demonstrate how rare it is for people to put aside personal differences to achieve something important to many.  

Some 30 years ago, Big Fresh Pond had become so unsafe for swimming that its town beaches were closed. Residents of nearby Little Fresh Pond, none with any political clout, quickly assembled and agreed to cease using fertilizer and insecticides, to erect barriers between their property and the water, to assure that their septic systems were not leaching waste into the pond. (It was thought that ours could possibly do so and we replaced it with one further from the water.)

Marine scientists at Southampton College and Stony Brook University regularly provide guidance in protecting this remnant of a retreating glacier. Every other week, from late spring to early fall, teams of residents take water samples from varying depths and locations and send them to Albany for testing.

Only after residents of the area did everything in their power to preserve the pond did they successfully request the town to install catch basins to divert road run-off. A body of water, once at risk of becoming polluted, is now of near drinking quality, thanks to ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It is those people who worry that Mr. Jacobs' camp could undo 30 years of effort and turn Little Fresh Pond into another , a stained place where children once swam. 

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