Frequent visitors of the Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve know that of the many activities it offers the Town of Hempstead, perhaps the greatest thing to see as you enter the sprawling preserve is its tribe of Nigerian Dwarf Goats.
The preserve, named after former State Sen. Norman J. Levy, who was a staunch environmentalist, features miles of trails and panoramic views, piers for fishing, a kayak launch — and much more. About 20 years ago, the town introduced the park’s newest inhabitants — goats, who would serve as natural weed control, as well as a friendly face at the base of the park’s entrance.
Alongside members of the town board, Town Supervisor Don Clavin announced at news conference on Monday the addition of several new animals, introducing Socks and Boots — the facility’s newest sheep — and goats Clay, Priscilla, Mia, Sweetie and Latte.
“If you’ve never been here, you don’t know what you’re missing,” Clavin said of Levy Park. “This is a really unique facility, and at one time, this is where people would bring their garbage — it’d be dropped off, and it was just a giant eyesore.
“Almost two decades ago, the Town of Hempstead transformed this into a beautiful preserve, and residents by the thousands come every single week where they can take a walk in a beautiful nature trail.”
The furry friends were walked out of their pens and placed in a small gated area prior to the start of the conference, where park goers could stop by, meet them, and pet them with the town board.
“The residents down here, they love this place,” Clavin said. “They love coming down here. They love everything about it, and they bring their kids and they have a great time. That’s what this is about.”
The park is open every day during the spring and summer, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Clavin said it’s a special place, that was heavily utilized during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This was one of the most visited facilities in all of the Town of Hempstead,” he recounted. “Residents would come here by the thousands almost daily to escape the pandemic, and take a nature walk and enjoy themselves.
“We’ve had Nigerian goats for a while, and people love them — they’ve adopted them,” he added. “The goats and the sheep have a job here, they’re going to help cultivate the area. They’re going to be put in areas where there’s been excess growth, and they’re going to earn it.”
Clavin said after your first visit to the preserve, you’ll always want to come back.
“And now you know you’ll get to see our expanded family and have a great time,” he said. “This town board sees the environment as a plus — this town board works together for the betterment of all residents, and I’m fortunate to have people that embrace it.”