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UCPC and DMA Team Up to Reopen and Improve Trails at AOsprey Landing@

April, 2012

 The Udalls Cove Preservation Committee (UCPC) and the Douglas Manor Association (DMA) have joined forces to reopen and improve the trails in a segment of Udalls Cove Park we are now calling AOsprey Landing.@  Old-timers may know it as the APoppa Property@ or perhaps the ACassandro Property.@  It is the northwest corner of the Park, located immediately south of Memorial Field in Douglaston.  The 2-acre parcel extends east from Douglas Road (between the intersections of Warwick and Richmond) all the way to the tidal channel at the head of the Cove.

 The restoration work allows area residents to enjoy lovely views of the salt marsh that lies between Douglaston, Little Neck and Great Neck.  It is a fine location for bird watching, and also for fishing when the tide is high.

 Though quite attractive now, just a few decades ago the site was a blighted wasteland.  Until the 1970s, the property was a low-lying marsh dominated by Phragmites B the tall, slender reeds with a fuzzy frond on top.  In 1972 the parcel was acquired by Robert Cassandro, who planned to build several houses there.  One day some years later, dump trucks began rolling in and dropping their heavy loads of concrete and asphalt rubble into the wetlands.  Day after day the debris kept coming, until the entire parcel was filled to more than 10 feet above the level of the marsh.  Some soil was dumped on top of the debris, though here and there tall mounds of concrete dotted the surface.  It looked like a moonscape, with nothing growing anywhere. 

 UCPC B though too late to save the salt marsh now covered by tons of rubble B nevertheless undertook to maintain the site as open space, and lobbied vigorously to have it acquired for inclusion in the newly minted Udalls Cove Park.  (Creation of that park was the central mission of the organization founded in 1969 by Aurora Gareiss.)

 As soon as the dumping ceased, nature began to try to reclaim the ruined parcel.  Trees and shrubs and vines and weeds B almost all of them Aalien@ or non-native species took root in the pockets of soil.  The mounds of concrete were in due course hidden beneath tangles of English ivy.  And children and teenagers created an ad hoc network of trails around and across the site.  Among the attractions, particularly for the slightly older crowd, was the fact that beer and various other enjoined substances could be consumed out of sight of any passers-by.

 Two large storms that wreaked havoc throughout Douglaston and Little Neck B the Amicro-burst of June 24, 2010, and Hurricane Irene in late August, 2011 B also brought down a number of trees and tree limbs on this parcel.  Several of the downed trees blocked the trails, making access even more difficult.

 In early 2012, at a gathering marking the 20th anniversary of the death of former UCPC president and civic leader Doug MacKay, Tom Oliva of the DMA proposed to Walter Mugdan of the UCPC that the organizations join forces to reopen and improve the trails. He also proposed that this portion of the park be called AOsprey Landing.@  The name is appropriate B there is an osprey nesting platform directly across the tidal channel, with ospreys in residence from March to October each year. 

 DMA and UCPC shared the costs of reopening and improving the trails.  The tree work was done by Teilis Landscaping, a local contractor who has done similar work for UCPC in other parts of the park.  Tielis also provided wood chips which UCPC volunteers spread across the trails. 

 Looking ahead, DMA and UCPC are discussing plans for building a bird-watching platform at the southeast corner of the site, overlooking the salt marsh. 

 

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