15 Sep 2014
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Residents Show Support for Friendly Farms

Over 100 people gathered to voice opposition about the county's decision to award the land to Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Rallying outside Saturday, more than 100 supporters voiced discontent and opposition over the county's decision to  the family-operated property to Cornell Cooperative Extension.

"This farm represents to me a sense of community," said Linda Gottlieb of Merrick, a customer. "These people are very involved with the community."

Nassau County representatives put out a request for proposal on the property and both Cornell Cooperative and Friendly Farms were able to submit bids.

"We took a look at this and fairly said we have to put out a [request for proposal]," said Carl Schroeter, director of the Nassau County Department of Real Estate. "Two parties supplied proposals, and it was an unanimous decision to give Cornell Cooperative Extension the property."

The county awarded Cornell Cooperative the bid in October.

"For the county to take it away to give to a very large organization that already has land not far away, it's going to compromise our lives as a family and as a community," Gottlieb added.

Samantha Sternbach, 16, an employee of Friendly Farms and an student, said she thinks getting rid of the farm would be a grave mistake.

"It's so family oriented and such a friendly farm," Sternbach said. "We just want it to stay."

In 2008, the county acquired the property from former owner Phillip Mark for $2.8 million as part of the Environmental Bond Act. The Brennan family has operated the Friendly Farms business for approximately six years.

Nassau County Legis. Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said that the county's buying of the land was for the better in the long run.

"His [Mark's] idea was to build anywhere from 30 to 40 one-family homes," Gonsalves said. "I knew the East Meadow community would not be happy with that."

Danielle Brennan, who co-operates the Friendly Farms business, said that their customers suggested holding a rally in support of the farm.

"They wanted to get together as a community to voice their opinion about what they want," she said.

The Brennnans said they will continue to fight to keep their business, and Bernadette Brennan, Danielle's mother, vowed to do whatever is necessary, even if that means taking the county to court.

"The next step is to proceed with whatever I need to do to keep us going on here," Brennan said. "I have hired counsel, so whatever counsel tells me to do, I will do."

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