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VOLUNTEERS MOVE MOUNTAINS!
Tons of Broken Concrete Removed from Udalls Cove Ravine

A small army of volunteers, aided by New York City Parks Department employees, has removed over 430,000 pounds (and counting) of broken concrete from the Ravine portion of the Udalls Cove Park & Preserve. The workers concentrated their efforts in an area of the Ravine located behind the Douglaston Firehouse, near the intersection of 44th Avenue and 244th Street.

The concrete was dumped there more than 25 years ago, when developers planned to fill in the entire Ravine between Douglaston and Little Neck, before the State and City interceded to protect it as part of the Udalls Cove Park & Preserve. Ranging from the size of a tennis ball to the size of an engine block, the pieces of broken concrete covered thousands of square yards of ground. The concrete inhibits growth of native trees, both by blocking them from the fertile soil below, and by leaching alkaline substances into the ground.

In October, 2003 the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee (UCPC) asked the Parks Department for help in removing the concrete. Janice Melnick, Park Administrator for Northeast Queens, promptly arranged for a crew of five along with essential heavy equipment � dump trucks, roll-off dumpsters, and a front-end loader. Another front-end loader, smaller and better able to negotiate the tortuous terrain was provided by UCPC Vice President Bruce Stuart.

The work began on Saturday, November 8, 2003 with a group of four UCPC volunteers. The following Saturday, November 15, some twenty volunteers ranging in age from seven to over seventy swarmed across the area, extracting chunks of concrete from beneath tangles of ivy (about the only vegetation that has been able to grow there). The concrete pieces were carried by hand to collection piles, from where they were transferred into the front-end loaders which, in turn, transported them to the dumpsters and dump trucks. At one point in the day, a large pile of concrete, inaccessible to the heavy equipment, was moved nearly a hundred feet by means of a human chain, with workers handing the heavy chunks from person to person in an efficient (albeit exhausting) rhythm.

Among the volunteers who helped with the backbreaking labor were several strapping teenage boys from the Douglaston/Little Neck community; a number of UCPC members; and a crew of three workers generously provided by UCPC member David Greene, a local building contractor. Even Park Administrator Melnick�s young children joined in, energetically carrying out dozens of smaller pieces of concrete. Together with the Parks Department employees, the team hauled out nearly 70 cubic yards of material during the two consecutive Saturdays.

Work has continued ever since then, with smaller crews doggedly working away at concrete strewn over the entire face of the Ravine�s steep slope down to Gabler�s Creek.

After the first major area was cleaned of concrete, the Parks Department brought in new top soil which UCPC spread out and graded. Then dozens of young native tree seedlings were planted, and an attractive rail fence was installed to deter any renewed dumping in the area. As additional areas are cleaned of concrete, the same approach will apply � new soil and new plantings. Finally, a footpath will be established across this area, which will link up with an existing footpath that enters the Park from Northern Boulevard.

While much of the backbreaking work has been done by volunteers, UCPC has incurred expenses in connection with this project. The small front-end loader provided by one of our officers has been indispensable to the success of the effort, but it is by no means inexpensive to
run and maintain. We are very pleased to report that an anonymous donor contributed $5,000 towards this important restoration project. UCPC will gratefully receive any additional contributions to assist us in carrying out the most complete restoration effort we can throughout the Ravine. Although we have already accomplished an enormous amount, considerably more work remains to be done

This concrete removal and replanting work is part of UCPC�s ongoing effort to protect and restore the Ravine and the rest of Udalls Cove Park and Preserve. In past years, UCPC volunteers have worked with the Parks Department to plant hundreds of trees in the Ravine, particularly in the southern portion near Northern Boulevard. Volunteers have also worked to remove thick vines that can kill trees, and remove non-native, invasive species such as knotweed, porcelainberry and kudzu. UCPC has also worked closely with the Parks Department on the plans for the restoration of Aurora Pond, near Sandhill Road north of the Long Island Rail Road; that project began on August 9, 2004.
 

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Last modified: 02/08/15  

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