Why is the Great Lawn so Great?
September 10, 2004 - Groundskeeper Mark Ermmarino mows 125 acres a week at LIU Post in Brookville, N.Y. but he puts special care into the time he spends manicuring the Great Lawn. Mark says he’s well aware that it’s a focal point of the Campus--especially during Commencement Week when thousands of visitors are on the grounds.
"The Great Lawn is so great because of its stately setting," said the 41-year-old Glen Cove resident, who has been caring for the property for the past 13 years. "The mansion is at the highest elevation of the lawn, which rolls gently down toward Humanities Hall and is framed by tall trees on the north and south side,” he said adding, “When it’s freshly mowed, it is exquisite."
Mark mows most of the grass on the campus twice a week, but the Great Lawn gets more attention from the groundskeeper than other areas. He routinely varies the manner in which the grass is cut to keep the Great Lawn looking its best. One day he’ll do a "straight cut," in which he does traditional rows back and forth across the grass. The next time he’ll do rows that are perpendicular to the ones he last cut. Every third time, he uses a diagonal cut that leaves a criss-cross pattern across the six-acre swath of green.
"The diagonal is my favorite," said LIU Post Grounds Manager Case Joosse who has worked at the Campus since 1981. "The lawn is gorgeous the way it draws your eye up toward the mansion."
Mark said he especially enjoys the warm weather, when students are out sunbathing and studying there. But he joked that it does make a little extra work for him because he finds himself picking up textbooks, cell phones, IDs and other paraphernalia that students have unwittingly left behind. All of the loot is taken to the Campus’ Lost and Found.
The first time Mark set foot on the Great Lawn was before he went to work for LIU Post. He and his beautiful bride, Marie, posed for photos on the lawn on May 12, 1990 after their wedding at St. Rocco’s Church in Glen Cove. Two weeks later, he got a call from the University inviting him to come to work there. "So many people use the Great Lawn as a backdrop for their photo ops," he said. "The grounds are what attract people to the Campus, and the Great Lawn is its centerpiece."
Asked if he could estimate the number of blades of grass he cuts each time he mows the lush six-acre tract, he simply grinned and said, "It’s like stars in the sky."