Winter Birds and Owl Pellets at Gateway

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On a mild Thursday (Jan. 26), members of the Lifestyles Media Department went to Gateway National Recreation Area at Great Kills for a program on birds. It was just after a nor’easter had hit the area, and Park Services Ranger Kathy Garofalo explained that the birds had deserted the feeders. So with some models and magazines, she introduced us to a number of winter birds and provided color pencils and clay to create our own. Then for those who wanted a little more scientific experience, she provided owl pellets to be dissected. We learned that owls eat rodents, moles, shrews and birds. They swallow their prey whole, but they cannot digest the bones and fur, so they cough it back up in a pellet. Yum!

Thanks Kathy,

We really enjoyed our visit to Gateway’s Education Field Center in Great Kills Park. We liked the location, seeing the harbor in the distance, and learning about owls and other birds.

We appreciated your expertise and knowledge and hospitality.

You educated us about things we didn’t know before.

Thanks for helping us feel like scientists, especially when we dissected the owl pellets and collected the bones of a shrew and other animals.

It was also fun to make clay birds and to learn animal facts.

Best Regards,

Lifestyles Media Department

Anthony DiCostanzo, Anthony DiFato, Riki Garcia, Joseph Jones, Christopher Lazzaro, Greg Perosi and Eric Schwacke

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Autumn Views at Wolfe’s Pond Park

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The Life-Wire News Service crew found fall photo opportunities everywhere at Staten Island’s Wolfe’s Pond Park. Our photographers offered their thoughts on many of their images.

And Access for All – Trailblazing at Mt. Loretto

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The trails at Mount Loretto Unique Area are now open for all people. Staten Island Deputy BP Edward Burke and the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s Universal Access Coordinator, Carole Fraser chat with Life-Wire’s Joseph Padalino and Anthony Pabon about the park and and the newly accessible trails in the following video from the September 22 ribbon cutting ceremony. (Photo: Meredith Arout for Life-Wire News).

Click here to follow our full coverage of the September 22 Mt. Lorretto Ribbon Cutting with the full story and photogrpahy.

Mount Loretto Trails Open to All

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Ribbon cutting. Photo: Michael Cilmi for Life-Wire News Service.

On a clear and warm first day of Autumn, Joseph Padalino cut the ribbon to new accessible

trails at Mount Loretto Unique Area. Flanked by the politicians and officials who made it all possible, Padalino let out a whoop of delight.  

“I think it’s a very good park for people with disabilities like me,” observed Padalino, who uses a wheelchair. “It’s a very tranquil place to meditate. People feel at peace in that park.”

Padalino attended with a contingent of participants and staff from Lifestyles for the Disabled, one of a number of organizations represented, including Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and the Independent Living Center.

“When we build a trail to be accessible, it’s for everyone,” Carole Fraser, Universal Access Coordinator for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), told Padalino. “It isn’t only for people with disabilities, it’s for people with small children in strollers. It’s for older adults and everyone to come and enjoy these spaces together.  Everyone can come and be more accepting of each other.”

Steve Zahn, Regional Director for the DEC, thanked State Assemblymen Ron Castorina, Jr. and Michael Cusick; Ed Burke, Staten Island Deputy Borough President; and NYC Parks officials for their efforts to improve the Pleasant Plains park.

Ed Burke, Deputy Borough President. Photo: Meredith Arout for Life-Wire News Service.

The festivities took place on a long, wide gravel path flanked by mowed grass and goldenrod.  The program was followed by a walk down the path to a deck on a bucolic pond where everyone can enjoy the ducks and, when there is more water, some fishing.

“Did you know that Staten Island has 12,000 acres of parks and natural areas,” Burke told reporter Anthony Pabon. “That’s a third of Staten Island.  So we’ve done a great job of protecting parkland and natural areas like this.”

In addition to the trail at Mount Loretto, improvements in access at New York State parks in the area also include amenities at Butler Manor Woods, North Mt Loretto State Forest and Lemon Creek.

Rachel Chernock, Lifestyles for the Disabled. Photo: Joseph Padalino for Life-Wire News Service.

”We have everything here, deer, raccoon, woodchuck, skunk,” Ray Matarazzo of the Protectors of the Pine Oak Woods told reporter Rachel Chernock. “The big thrill of the day was the bald eagle.  They’re always soaring overhead.”

Mount Loretto Unique Area is at 6450 Hylan Blvd. on Staten Island.  Call 718.482.4942 for information.

  • Rachel Chernock, Anthony DiCostanzo, Anthony DiFato, Kareem Ellison, Steven Filoramo, Anthony Kefalinos, Andrew Moszenberg, Anthony Pabon, Joseph Padalino, Dolores Palermo, and Gregory Perosi with Kathryn Carse and Edward Gregory.

Read “A facelift for state lands: More accessible trails, walkways, parking” at

Watch “Department of Environmental Conservation Improves Access to Parks on Staten Island” on


Staten Island Summer Preview

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Summer is almost here.  But Staten Island is already enjoying warm breezes and sunshine.  Here are a few scenes from the community.

Top 10 Secrets of the Narrows, Entry to NY Harbor

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In honor of Fleet Week 2016, Life-Wire News Service reviews the top ten interesting and surprising facts about Fort Wadsworth and the Narrows in New York Harbor.

1.       Fort Wadsworth is the longest continuously operated fort in the United States. It was open  from 1663 to 1994.

Inside Fort Tompkins. Photo: Joseph Padalino. for Life-Wire News Service.

2.       Fort Wadsworth was open to the public as part of the National Park Service in 1995.

Photo: Joseph Jones for Life-Wire News Service.

3.       During the War of 1812, Fort Wadsworth was one of a number of forts that kept the British out of New York Harbor. They attacked and burned down Washington D.C. instead.

Marine Corps Band. Photo: Dolores Palermo for Life-Wire News Service.

4.       Battery Weed, the fort at the water’s edge, was built during the 1840s, and Fort Tompkins, the fort on the bluff, was built from 1859 to 1876.

Battery Weed. Photo: Dolores Palermo for Life-Wire News Service.

5.       The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge which connects Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island and Brooklyn was open in 1964.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Photo: Dolores Palermo for Life-Wire News Service.

6.       The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was named for the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. However, his name was misspelled with only one “z” to name the bridge.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Photo: Joseph Padalino. for Life-Wire News Service.

7.       The population on Staten Island exploded after the bridge was open, increasing from over 220,000 to over 470,000 today.

Photo: Michael Halbreich for Life-Wire News Service.

8.       The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was the last great work of Staten Islander Othmar Ammann. Among the bridges he designed are the Bayonne Bridge, the Goethals Bridge and the Outerbridge Crossing, which all connect Staten Island to New Jersey.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Photo: Dolores Palermo for Life-Wire News Service.

9.       There is no pedestrian crossing on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge . There are two annual events during which the bridge can be crossed without a vehicle — the New York City Marathon and the Five Boro Bike Tour.

U.S. Coast Guard Buoy tender. Photo: Joseph Jones for Life-Wire News Service.

10.    Runners gather in Fort Wadsworth before beginning the run over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge during the NYC Marathon. Bikers gather in the fort for a festival after crossing the bridge during the Five Boro Bike Tour.

Anthony Padalino and Joseph Jones photographing the Narrows.

Photos were taken during a Life-Wire News Service photo shoot at Fleet Week 2016.
Text by Anthony DiFato, Joseph Padalino, Anthony DiCostanzo, Meredith Arout, and Adriana Kolari with Kathryn Carse.



Opening the Stapleton Waterfront

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The North Shore got a little greener today with the opening of the Stapleton Waterfront Park.  Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, City Council Representative Debi Rose and Assemblyman Matthew Titone were on hand for the ribbon cutting outside the new URBY apartment complex.  Life-Wire News Service photographers Anthony DiFato, Raheim Gladden and Michael Halbreich were on hand to capture the moment.

“The opening of this park nicely complements the renaissance that is taking place along the North Shore,” according to Oddo. “The park will surely become a waterfront haven thanks to its proximity to URBY and the rest of the ‘Core Four’ projects. Creating this green space is an important step in the major redevelopment that is going to transform the North Shore and increase activity along the waterfront.”

Speak for the Trees

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We celebrate Arbor Day with a look back at some of our favorite photos of trees from 2015.

10 Parks That Changed Staten Island

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Gas Works Park credit Matt Hagan 4 (1)
Gas Works Park, Seattle, WA. PBS Photo. Credit: Courtesy of Matt Hagan

From Savannah to Seattle, PBS explores 10 Parks That Changed America, premiering Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 8:00 p.m. ET.  A panel of viewers previewed the show and discussed which parks in Staten Island were influenced by the 10 green spaces featured in the program.  Here are their thoughts:

  • Colonial Squares in Savannah, GA – Veterans Park, Port Richmond

Veterans Park is resembles Savannah’s Colonial Squares because has town buildings around a public square.  It is not as old as the colonial parks, but it is Staten Island’s oldest, built in 1836.

Silver Lake is part of our water supply.  Staten Island’s first New York City park, opened in 1917, with water from the Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County, NY.  Like Fairmount Park, water is pumped up hill to the park and it feeds the Island from there.

You can walk around nature.  It’s a good place to think about how the people buried in the cemetery are in a better place.  You can get away from your sadness and enjoy the park, just like Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

Staten Islander Frederick Law Olmstead built both Central and Clove Lakes parks in the English landscape tradition where everybody could come together and enjoy views that open up like landscape paintings.

  • Chicago Park System, Chicago, IL – Walker Park, Livingston

Walker Park is part of the New York City Parks and Recreation system.  The park was previously home to the Staten Island Cricket and Tennis Association before it was transferred to the parks department.  The field house is like the ones that originated in Chicago so people could enjoy the parks and activities all year round.

  • Riverwalk, San Antonio, TX – The Bluebelt, various south shore wetlands
    (Shown: Lemon Creek)

Like Texas’ Riverwalk, The Bluebelt helps keep flooding to a minimum.  It is different from Riverwalk because it uses the natural environment helps redirect and absorb water away from homes.

Lemon Creek Park is part of the Staten Island Bluebelt system. Photo: Andrew Moszenberg for Life-Wire News Service, 2015.
  • Overton Park, Memphis, TN – The Greenbelt, various contiguous mid-island green spaces

You can get away from the congestion of Staten Island. Like Overton Park, local activists saved the green spaces that became The Greenbelt from highway development.

  • Freeway Park, Seattle, WA – Staten Island Expressway

There is no existing park to compare to Freeway Park in Seattle.  There is an opportunity to build a park behind Petrides School in Todt Hill that would connect the Greenbelt to Clove Lakes Park.  People of all abilities would be able to use the paths to get from the North Shore of Staten Island as far as Great Kills in a system of connected parks.

Fresh Kills was a natural marsh and wetlands before it was turned into a landfill in 1948, ultimately becoming the world’s largest dump. With the remains of the World Trade Center, Fresh Kills is sacred ground. The new Fresh Kills Park has bicycle paths, a September 11 memorial, and even restored oyster beds.

  • The High Line, New York, NY – The North Shore Branch
    (Shown: Heritage Park, West New Brighton)

The North Shore Branch of the Staten Island Railroad ran from Arlington to St. George but is now abandoned.  It could be made into a duel function park and rail system.  If extended, it could connect to the old Nassau Smelting facility on Staten Island’s south shore, combining rails and trails together with views of the industrial waterfront and the harbor as part of the North Shore Waterfront Greenway.

Heritage crop 4
Heritage Park, part of the North Shore Waterfront Greenway. Photo: Gregory Perosi, for Life-Wire News Service, 2015.

-Written as a group, including Joseph Padalino, Steven Filoramo, Dolores Palermo, Meredith Arout, Gregory Perosi, Anthony DiFato, Jonathan Chernock, Andre Fitzgerald, and others, edited by Edward Gregory.


Greenbelt Screens “Autism in Love”

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Can we love against the odds? is a question that anyone might ask. But the question becomes more complicated when autism enters the equation. This problem is explored in Independent Lens’ Autism in Love, premiering on PBS, Jan. 11, 10-11 p.m. (Eastern). Life-Wire News Service attended a screening sponsored by Thirteen/WNET at The Greenbelt Recreation Center on December 15th and posed questions about the film and about relationships where disabilities are present. The panel, hosted by Bill Lacurtis, Manager of the Greenbelt Recreation Center, included Scott Salinardi, COO of Lifestyles for the Disabled; Chris Marchionne, Executive Director of PCCS (Person Centered Care Services), Inc.; and Gina Piersanti Gioe, Program Director for AHRC Inc.‘s Programs Without Walls Intitative.