Warwick Conservancy Trustees elect new officers

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:15

    Warwick-William (Bill) Olsen and Professor Andrew (Andy) McLaughlin have been elected to lead the Board of Directors of the Warwick Conservancy, Inc. (WCI), Warwick's own local land trust, as president and vice president, respectively. Charles Gilmore is the new Treasurer. Diana Boernstein remains as the board's secretary. All are sitting trustees. The Conservancy works closely with other land trusts, non-profit community organizations and municipal entities in the area to achieve its goals, but is the only independent non-profit organization directly concerned solely with preserving Warwick's natural resources, open spaces and rural character. Both the new president and vice president hold doctoral degrees: Olsen's is in microbiology and biochemistry, and McLaughlin's in philosophy. As a professor at Lehman College in the Bronx, McLaughlin is keenly concerned with the philosophy of science and wrote the book, Regarding Nature. In announcing their election, the Warwick Conservancy stated that "both men n in their training and current experience n are particularly well situated to understand and evaluate the challenges facing Warwick's natural environment." McLaughlin's expertise encompasses the philosophical, political and ethical aspects of humans in their interface with nature, and has written extensively on these subjects. Olsen, who was awarded his PhD by Michigan State University, has spent time at MIT's Department of Biology & Chemistry and the prestigious Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Munich, Germany. He recently retired as Senior Research & Development Scientist with International Paper in Tuxedo, N.Y., where he was responsible for new technologies worth millions of dollars to the firm. Olsen‘s vision for developing the reach and effectiveness of the Conservancy will focus first on identifying key local open space land parcels and innovative ways to preserve them. This will be in addition to a program to educate the public to the advantages of conservation easements which preserve land: these benefit plant and animal habitats and maintain diversity, they preserve aquifers and water resources, they preserve the air quality and the aesthetic and rural character that we all so greatly value. Conservation easements also usually raise property values, and contrary to common belief, by restricting development, keep taxes down. As new development brings in the need for new local government services including more school facilities, conservation easements that preserve open spaces also help to keep property taxes from rising. "I intend, with the able assistance of our dedicated trustees, to build the programs of the Conservancy so that we will be a proactive conservation force rather than only reacting to the most pressing situations," Olsen said. "The outgoing president, Cushman May, has my deep admiration and respect for the excellent job he has done in helping to grow the organization from its infancy. We are poised now to develop a more sophisticated approach to the problems of land conservation which will include forming closer liaisons with more established land trusts, foundations and other environmental organizations to learn from them and cooperate with them in mutually beneficial programs," he added. "We are very fortunate to have as WCI officers, among others, Professor McLaughlin, with his wide knowledge of ecology and preservation and Diana Boernstein, with her keen legal expertise on the team, who will be invaluable to bring us to the next step in our efforts." Charles (Chuck) Gilmore, the new treasurer and a retired telecommunications executive, was lauded by the outgoing president, Cushman May. "Charles worked with us in the final days of our Hallowed Ground fundraising drive. His managerial, project and planning skills have been, and will be, of great importance to the Conservancy as we continue to grow and take on more complex projects," said May, who will remain on the board as a trustee. Just last year, as a relatively new and untested group, the Conservancy raised the substantial funds locally needed to purchase the Village's new Hallowed Ground Park at Forester and Galloway, which had been threatened with development. The Conservancy now holds the conservation easement on the property, ensuring that it will remain forever green, and the title to the property is in the name of the Village of Warwick. The park, once the cemetery of the first Old Baptist Meeting House and across the road from the greater portion of that historical cemetery, is situated at a key visual entrance to Warwick on Route 17A. The Warwick Conservancy (www.warwickconservancy.org) welcomes participation as a conservation easement grantor, program volunteer, or as a financial underwriter. The WCI ensures the preservation of Warwick's open spaces by creating and holding conservation easements on properties independently of government and private interests, and in perpetuity. The trustees said they are eager to reach out to local citizens who have expertise in the field of land conservation and welcome their input. For more information on conservation easements or other programs of the Conservancy, or to volunteer or contribute funds, contact Bill Olsen at 988-5299, or mail tax deductible contributions to WCI, PO Box 1277, Warwick NY 10990.