Abandoned Lots

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Fri Jun 5 06:07:47 EDT 1998

There have been several evocative accounts of the destruction of 
"abandoned lots".  The fact that residential/commercial development has 
priority with landowners is not surprising and is one problem.  Our 
planning board says their hands are tied by zoning ordinances and that 
they can not deny "permitted" development, just because no one living in 
the community wants it to happen. 

On the other hand the conversion of public land to ball fields and golf 
courses is something that should be slowed.  Although I can understand 
golf, it seems that in terms of density of use per acre, it is an 
extremely wasteful sport. 

A baseball field is about an acre and 18 people can use it at once. Golf 
courses cover dozens of acres and only about 80 people can use it at 
once (4-somes at each of 18 holes).  But in both cases the habitat 
management is hardly conducive to wildlife and other forms of 

There have been a few attempts to quantify the commercial value of 
nature-recreation (bird watching, particularly) but it's clear that 
although there are probably as many active nature-watchers as golfers or 
baseball players, we don't represent a constituency. 

I wonder how many tales there are of "abandoned" lots that are converted 
from valuable habitats to not much use.  And whether this is a story 
worth telling. 

I have begun to assemble my experiences (both as a child in NYC and New 
York State and as an adult in California and New Jersey).  Everywhere 
I've been people say that our area is the fastest growing in the 

I would be pleased to edit accounts and distribute them more widely than 
this list. 

Mike Gochfeld

Michael Gochfeld
EOHSI--Piscataway, NJ 08854
"gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu"

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