As neighbors and patrons of the Normanside Country Club, we are deeply appreciative of the golf course’s tremendous natural beauty, great menu, patio dining, and role in hosting significant family, school, and business events. Managing Partner David Hostig has continued the long tradition of community-mindedness, graciously permitting neighbors to sled, ski, and walk on the golf course off season. He receives high praise, as well, for his recent agreement to sell the town a considerable plot of beautiful, wooded land.
We do, however, want to correct misleading information regarding the extensive tree-cutting that has happened there reported on in the front-page article of the January 27 issue, “Normanside installs simulators to bring golfers in from the cold.” In conversations several weeks ago with Mr. Hostig about neighbors’ concerns regarding the extensive tree removal, Mr. Hostig shared that over 4,000 trees had already been cut – not just the 300 reported – and that at least that many more would be coming down. While the “300” may have been “old and diseased,” as stated, the vast majority of them were not. The article trivializes the real impact
The land is private, and per current town zoning, the management is entitled to remove as many trees as they like, but it has been heartbreaking to see the extent of the cutting. The property is exceptional in its natural history, natural beauty, and significance as part of an unbroken ecologic corridor running from Schenectady to the Hudson. The golf course’s beauty has been defined by its sweeping views of the Normanskill, grand old trees, and steep wooded ravines.
We all have a responsibility to be not just stewards of our own property but stewards of this Earth. The aim may be a sleeker more manicured paradise for golfers, but fewer trees mean a loss of habitat for dwindling wildlife including critical pollinators like birds, bees, and bats. More expansive greenways mean an increase in the use of noise and carbon-producing mowers and environmentally toxic pesticides and fertilizers that run off the rolling hills into the Normanskill. Bare, steep ravines destabilize the soil, potentially leading to more landslides and sediment flowing into the creek which negatively impacts water quality. With our heightened understanding of the significant role older, established trees play in stemming global warming and the interconnectedness and fragility of ecosystems that sustain this Earth, we all need to weigh our priorities.
Fortunately, towns are beginning to take these things into consideration when making permit and zoning changes. We hope the current Comprehensive Plan Update Committee will too. In the meantime, area golfers might share with Mr. Hostig that they prefer the large pockets of natural beauty that once dotted this spectacular course to the current denuded ravines and valleys.