by breeve 9. September 2011 15:13

Jones Beach, just 25 miles from Times Square on the southern end of Long Island, serves 6 million visitors a year. So beautiful are the white sands that on a summer day one might think they are closer to Jamaica than New York City. While considered one of the best beaches in the world, it was only sunken marsh land in 1922 when Robert Moses first laid eyes on the property.

The township of Hempstead would have liked to keep it that way. They were intent on pulling oysters from the bottom of the bay rather than drunken New Yorkers. As Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses could buy, condemn or appropriate land owned by private individuals but land owned by townships could only be acquired through town votes. The votes were not forthcoming.

Part of the reason was Moses himself. He would not reveal the actual route of his Meadowbrook Causeway upon which thousands of vehicles would travel. Knowledge of future road plans were greatly coveted because, if known before hand, land could be acquired at pre-parkway prices. No doubt as demand for stores and homes close to the parkway increased, land prices would follow shortly behind.

If buying land was coveted, building contracts were more so and no one loved them more than Nassau County GOP leader G. Wilbur Doughty. A corrupt old school boss with close connections to construction companies in the county, he ran a tight ship. Many citizens owed their livelihood to the construction jobs those companies produced. What Doughty said was law and Doughty wanted nothing to do with the plans of Moses.

The idealist Robert Moses fresh out of Yale and Oxford scoffed at back door dealing. Even the Robert Moses of 1925 tried many times to persuade Hempstead Township to give him Jones Beach. Doughty even went so far as to place the proposition on the ballot in November 1925 but the vote was 12,106 to 4,200 against.

In those dark hours, Moses thought he had lost Jones beach and with it his elaborate park plans for Long Island. Whether someone convinced him to deal or he thought of it himself we don’t know, but later in the year we find Moses in private meetings with Doughty. Of course, no contract or proof of any deal surfaced but certain things were agreed to. Among them were contracts for the construction companies connected to Doughty along with Hempstead Township having full access to the plans for the Meadowbrook Causeway.

In November 1926 the proposal passed 18,872 to 5,076 in favor. The park would be built after all and Doughty would be the first to spread his beach towel upon the white sand.

Lucky for Moses he learned to compromise early in his career. He went on to build many of the bridges and roads in New York City. For a man with strong opinions, Moses knew when to compromise in order to get things done. No doubt, the lessons of Jones Beach often played out in his mind.

The lessons of compromise are not limited to beaches. In the book Making it Big in Software it talks about the idea of an emotional cache. An emotional cache is the amount people feel invested in your ideas. Including ideas of others in architecture decisions or proposals while acknowledging their contributions helps build support. The further you advance in your career the more your success depends on the ability of the team to get things done.

Unfortunately many programmers, to their detriment, are often uncompromising on technical matters all the while alienating teammates. It is often said that what matters is not how much you know but how much you do. Individually, you can only accomplish so much. The great leaders who get things done know how to give in order to get.



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About Me

I am a Principal Engineer with 16 years experience developing and releasing software products. I started developing in C/C++ then moved into .NET and C#. Currently working in Python/Flask and Docker. Have tech lead multiple projects. I have developed products in Windows Forms, ASP.NET/MVC, Silverlight, WPF, and Python. I currently reside in Austin, Texas.

Own Projects

Pickaxe - An easy to use web page scraper. If you know a little SQL and how basic CSS selectors work, no web scraping product will be easier to use.


FligthQuery - Query FlightAware FlightXml API with SQL


Created ASP.NET MVC forum originally targeting home owner associations but now in use by an investor group.

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