Suburban Development and the Rape of Orange County


Proudly displaying their tyvek insulation as if they were billboards on the side of the freeway, the half built houses are scattered up and down the hillsides awaiting their completion. Trees freshly cut are scattered about like Lincoln logs waiting their demise in the teeth of the mulcher. Mud piles and tracks made by bulldozers and other workhorses signifying the debasing of the land crisscross the soon to be front yards. Piles of gray cinderblocks on wooden pallets await their placement in this mud to create the foundation for yet another monstrosity which will house 2.5 kids and two large SUV’s, along with a bunch of electronic equipment and possibly a dog. Asphalt roadways lead nowhere as the streets are built before the houses that will follow.

Here and there a patch of grass and an outcropping of trees is left alone while the wildlife that lives among them awaits the executioners hand. They await the bulldozers and the inevitable piles of dead trees, uprooted stumps and excavating that will follow. They hold on for dear life swaying in the cool breeze and giving off their last few breaths of oxygen while enjoying their last throes of life overlooking the destruction of their brethren, only to be replaced by newborn trees that need posts and rope to be held up in their unnatural ways.

This is Orange County, New York. The half suburban one quarter rural one quarter city county that is slowly being grazed to make way for the middle aged folks with 2 kids who need to escape the fringes of New York City to create more sprawl. Up and down the hillsides there is development and spreading. 3000 square foot homes for half the price of those in Rockland County or the surrounding New Jersey areas. Large similar looking fake white homes that will replace the trees, grass, small streams and wilderness that once existed here. Slowly but surely the area will become what more southern counties became and so the owners of these homes will once again move north like army ants taking down anything that resembles peace and tranquility in their path on their way to bigger and better homes. With more fake siding, and artificial shrubbery, wood chip piles, rounded driveways and streets with names like oak ridge way, or babbling brook court, or elm tree lane, trying to evoke a sense of ruralness that once existed and drew folks to the very area which is going through its destruction.

The commute lengthens as the suburban dream becomes more and more of reality for those folks willing to deal with the 2 hour commute from Middletown or even as far as Monticello. The old red barns, silos, Victorian homes and red brick store fronts are replaced by bigger and better homes and establishments that continue to do their damage to the land without anyone really caring whether or not the groundwater is polluted or a few deer have nowhere to sleep, and when something like overpopulation of dear happens they decide to hold a mid year hunting season to get ride of those unfortunate dear that chose to live in the woods which happened to be leveled to make room for a Rite Aide even though 2 miles away there was on already.

I drove and drove around southern Orange county aimlessly blaring some country music and gazing to the sides of the road at the destruction that resembled Sodom and Amorah with its piles of debris that were once homes for animals and plant life and have merely become refuse piles for the local contractor and his work crew to throw away little Styrofoam containers with chicken bones and pieces of rice. So the bulldozer operator and the electricians pay no mind to the land or its occupants in the name of development and expansion while the population is stagnated and there are thousands of burnt out homes in cities already occupying land that is already void of living creatures. But in the name of progress how can we not expand and build, why should we abandon the push to destroy all that is good so we can live in homes of which we occupy a mere two rooms and waste the rest. Must all development be in the name of keeping up with the joneses. If there were no parks or conservationists one can be assured that the 6 million acres of the Adirondacks would have surely been developed into nice culdesacs already and the Catskills would all look like the mountains of Hunter and Wyndham. When will the raping of the wilderness end? When will people wake up and decide to live where they are and stop causing havoc on our lovely earth and eco system?