Camp Hero State Park
Camp Hero State Park is a park located on Montauk Point, New York that offers a beach, fishing, hiking, a bridle path, biking, and cross-country skiing. It is the former site of Montauk Air Force Station.
The site known as Camp Hero, or the Montauk Air Force Station, was originally commissioned by the U.S. Army in 1942. The site was chosen because of the fear of a New York invasion that might be staged from the sea. It was a coastal defense station that was disguised as a fishing village. Camp Hero was named after Major General Andrew Hero Jr., who was the Army's Commander of coastal artillery, who died in 1942.
In 1984 the General Services Administration attempted to sell the entire facility to real estate developers. Local environmental activists protested, claiming that the site had many unique ecosystems and animal habitats. The remaining portions of the military reservation at Montauk were decommissioned and most of the facility, including Camp Hero, was donated to the National Park Service, which then turned it over to the New York State Department of Parks. Portions not deemed environmentally sensitive were sold off.
In 1992, Preston Nichols and Peter Moon wrote a book called "The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time" (ISBN 0-9631889-0-9) in which they alleged that secret experiments were carried out at the Camp Hero site. The book proved quite popular with conspiracy theorists, and spawned several sequels. (See Montauk Project)
Camp Hero remained largely undeveloped through the 1980s and 1990s. In 1996, a feasibility study was undertaken for developing the site as a golf course. However, environmentalists were concerned that the golf course would impact rare species of plants and endangered wildlife such as the Blue-spotted salamander and Eastern tiger salamander and irrigation would deplete limited sources of groundwater on the peninsula. Although there was a great demand to create new golf courses on Long Island, particularly on the East End, the idea of creating a new golf course in Montauk in addition to Montauk Downs State Park was dropped in 1999.
The site, now called Camp Hero State Park, was opened to the public on September 18, 2002. There are plans in the works to create a museum and an interpretive center that will focus on World War II and Cold War history inside the radar tower. Some parts of the camp remained closed off and guarded, especially the areas near the old satellites and military installations.
- Tagliaferro, Linda (February 11, 1996). "Plan for Montauk Golf Course Raises Concerns". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- Lambert, Bruce (July 15, 1999). "More Golf Courses? Some Say Enough Already". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
- "State Parks Opens Camp Hero in Montauk" (Press release). New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. September 18, 2002. Retrieved 2009-10-12.
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