By Mark Hallum
When the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee held its first cleanup on Earth Day in 1970, the area was cleared of massive amounts of garbage such as abandoned automobiles, appliances, everyday garbage, and “floatables”—refuse that washes ashore from boats and storm drains.
Now, the committee is planning to hold its 47th annual meeting and cleanup Saturday. As one of Queens’ oldest conservation groups, the UCPC has committed itself to improving the mile-long park located between Douglaston and Little Neck. Cleanup efforts will be centered on the areas of Udalls Cove Park and Preserve known as the Ravine, Aurora Pond, Virginia Point and the Osprey Landing. The meeting will report on three major improvement projects funded in part by a $20,000 New York state grant secured in 2014 by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).
The improvement projects are a gravel footpath installed along the east and north side of Sandhill Road, known locally as “the Back Road”; a guardrail erected along the Osprey Landing section; and an effort still underway to remove debris from a commercial boatyard. The debris, which has littered the area for almost half a century, consists of two derelict boats partially buried in mud, an empty metal tank and the steel frame of a boat carrier.
At the meeting, there will also be a report on several restoration projects undertaken by local Boy Scout troops in the past year. Among the participants in those projects are Max Lacoma from Scout Troop 10, and Mike Campese and Clifford Lew from Troop 153.
Udalls Cove Park has long been an important symbol for the community. Aurora Pond is named for the late Aurora Gareiss, one of Queens’ most respected conservationists. The Osprey Landing provides bird-watching opportunities and is a sanctuary for the migratory birds that return seasonally to nests they left behind the year before. Virginia Point, at the eastern edge of Little Neck Bay, is also a haven for a great variety of birds, amphibians, and mammals.
Everyone is invited to attend the meeting and participate in the cleanup, which the UCPC said will give people the chance to “Think Globaly, Act Locally.” Avella, state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and senior representatives of the city Parks Department are expected to attend the meeting taking place Saturday at 10 a.m. on Sandhill Road between Douglaston and Little Neck, west of the Little Neck railroad station, on the north side of the tracks. Gloves and trash collection bags will be supplied and sturdy shoes and long pants are recommended. Participants are also invited to a picnic at Memorial Field in Douglaston shortly past noon.
For more information, contact Walter Mugdan, president of the UCPC, at 718-224-7256.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall