Hundreds volunteer to clean Udalls Cove

Hundreds volunteer to clean Udalls Cove
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Phil Corso

Mano Lambrinos walked quietly in the Saturday morning sun along Virginia Point with a black garbage bag waving in the wind. On his day off, he was looking for trash.

“This is my place,” Lambrinos said. “Of course, I want it to look nice.”

He and nearly 100 other Little Neck, Great Neck, L.I., and Douglaston community residents gathered last weekend with area leaders to volunteer their time to the annual cleaning of Udalls Cove in Douglas Manor with members of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee.

The workers spread out through the various wetlands in the area to remove trash, including tires, old furniture and rusted steel.

“We’ve had a mild winter, which has made for fewer pieces of garbage,” said Walter Mugdan, president of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee. “But I’d also like to believe that more people are being courteous to the environment, too.”

Mugdan worked with northeast Queens Parks Administrator Janice Melnick to coordinate the massive cleanup, which included the distribution of garbage bags, gloves and maps for direction. He said it was important to help preserve the area’s wetlands because they acted as a sponge by capturing, storing and slowly releasing water over a long period of time.

“I enjoy it,” Mugdan said. “I volunteer a lot of my time, but I especially get a kick out of this because I can see results in just a matter of hours.”

Melnick said she was impressed by the efforts of so many area residents on a Saturday morning as bright and sunny as last weekend was.

“This group is amazing and they’ve really stepped up,” Melnick said. “No group has impacted the community the way the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee has.”

The Little Neck/Douglaston Ambulance was spread throughout the area to monitor the safe removal of debris from the parks.

Loulu Lima and her family marched through the quiet forest with garbage bags, collecting any litter they could find. The Little Neck family said it was their first time volunteering at the cleanup.

“We’re definitely coming back,” Lima said. “It’s fun. It’s like a weekend adventure.”

Mugdan said the beauty of the park would not exist without the work of several elected officials, including state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), who both rolled up their sleeves to help clean up the area.

Avella hoisted heavy steel beams from what he said used to be a dock in the area and carried them out of the park at the northern end of Little Neck Parkway. He said volunteering was the least he could do to complement Mugdan’s work.

“Walter is tremendous,” Avella said. “I think we all should set an example. Because of their hard work, the community has become more conscious of the environment.”

Braunstein pointed the spotlight back on the community for working to preserve their natural surroundings.

“This place is beautiful because everyone fights for it,” Braunstein said.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573