By Phil Corso
A preservation group from Douglaston called on the city to acquire the last few remaining privately owned lots in Udalls Cove Park before they are sold and possibly developed.
Walter Mugdan, president of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee, fired off a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg urging him to purchase the final five parcels of land at the cove after receiving word that its current owner might soon sell them to developers. He and other residents who live near the southern part of the cove known as the Ravine noticed crews pulling weeds and clearing access points there to potentially lure future business deals.
Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece joined with the civic group in his own letter to the mayor on behalf of the board outlining the civic’s hopes to keep the land clean and away from the hands of big development.
“Over 80 percent of the ravine has been acquired, saving precious tidal wetlands, a breeding ground for fish and other marine life in the water of the Long Island Sound from development and destruction,” Iannece said.
In the letter, Iannece said the preservation committee has been dealing with the city for years to slowly secure all 14 acres of the forests and wetlands, but recent maintenance work at the remaining private land sparked widespread concern.
“We have worked with the Parks Department in prior years to acquire and create Udalls Cove Park and Preserve along with other ecologically sensitive areas in the Little Neck Bay area,” Iannece said. “Now with only five lots remaining to be acquired, it is hoped that these can finally be acquired.”
A Parks spokesman said the city would continue working to purchase all 15 lots in the area, but elected officials who represent the area would have to find a way to fund it.
“Strengthening Udalls Cove Park is a priority for the administration and we are exploring every possible means of preserving these parcels,” the spokesman said.
The Udalls Cove Preservation Committee was founded in 1969 as a volunteer organization set out solely to preserve, conserve and restore the area’s wetlands, Mugdan said. The group has been at the forefront of a major community cleanup scheduled at the site each year.
Both Mugdan and Iannece called on the mayor and Parks Commissioner Veronica White to make sure nothing is built on the property and must now wait for a response from the city.
“Community Board 11 has been an ardent supporter of these efforts since they started in the 1970s and with the acquisitions made in the 1980s,” they said in a letter. “We urge you to act now, with Commissioner White, to dedicate park funds to start the acquisition of these lots. We hope that you will visit this area and see for yourself the marvelous work the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee has done in the Little Neck Bay area to preserve the wetlands and woodlands and the wonderful parkland that was acquired in this area that allows for the growth of plant, fish and wildlife, all surprisingly within the New York City limits.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.