SILIVE: Protectors celebrates woodlands with scenic walk – 07/12/15

Group celebrates woodlands with scenic walk

By Paul Liotta | Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND,  N.Y. — A local conservation group led a walk through a scenic part of Todt Hill that is facing sale.  A small group of local nature enthusiasts came out to the St. Francis Woodlands to take in the scenery in a walk through the area.

Protectors of Pine Oak Woods led a group of seven on a nature walk through the St. Francis Friary Woodlands Sunday morning,  with the hope of educating them about all the area has to offer.

New York State purchased the 25 acre area for $10 million in 1995, under the Pataki Administration and added it to the 2500 acre Staten Island Greenbelt, assuring its survival.

However, the group worries that the 5 acres the Franciscans still own will be sold for development.

“The woodlands of the friary are truly a treasure,” Clifford Hagen, the president of PPOW said. “Our mission has always been about preserving and protecting the beautiful areas that are part of our borough.”

As of now, it seems the Friars will be selling the property to another religious organization. It is unclear what organization that is but the Rev. Brad Milunski says that once the contract is finalized that the identity of the buyer will be made public.

The site has been operated by the friars for the better part of a century and has an extensive history.

After the sale of Mount Manresa, another green space on Staten Island, many are wary of the sale of the 5 acres atop Todt Hill.

“It’s similar in a sense it being a religious institution, but it is very dissimilar,” Hagen said. “The community here up on Todt Hill has a stronger voice, they’re certainly well organized and they have the help of City Council.”