By Connor Adams Sheets
The Alley Pond Environmental Center opened its doors on Little Neck Bay Saturday afternoon to hundreds of visitors for National Estuaries Day, an annual event for families nationwide to learn about the bodies of water and what they can do to protect their natural environment.
Attended by folks young and old with a green streak as well as local leaders and a slew of environmentally concerned agencies and organizations, the Douglaston center’s outdoor affair is an important day for promoting Little Neck Bay cleanliness.
“We want people to try to understand that there are lots of ways people can help the bay and we want people to do their part: recycle, walk more. We want to teach people to be stewards,” said Dr. Aline Euler, the center’s education director. “Everything connects to everything else in nature, so that’s what we’re trying to get people to understand.”
The event featured a range of fun activities for attendees, including boat rides, chances to see and touch live animals, crafts and children’s games.
Bayside resident Claudia Cabrera brought her daughter, Erika, 5, to the center, at 228-06 Northern Blvd., to enjoy the festivities Saturday. She said the two had a great time.
“We think it’s just a wonderful program and it’s such a beautiful day. You get to walk the trails before it gets cold,” Claudia Cabrera said. “And they have all these crafts and activities for the kids and they also get to look at the animals inside the facility. There’s a lot to explore.”
U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece spoke during a ceremony celebrating National Estuaries Day and ongoing efforts to restore the polluted Little Neck Bay.
“APEC is a place where you can study, learn about all these things and enjoy,” Ackerman said. “This is a place to come to learn about all of these wonderful things.”
In his remarks, Iannece praised all the work that has been done to clean up the acres of wetlands where the center now sits. He said the city has spent $125 million so far to reclaim and clean up the land and will soon spend $1.6 million to put in a trail encircling Oakland Lake.
“Many years ago this was a dumping ground … and look how far we’ve come,” he said. “You can walk the trails and you’d never know you were in New York City.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4538.