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Long Awaited Udalls Mill Pond Restoration Begins

On Monday, Oct. 17, the staging of equipment and site preparation to dredge Udalls Pond began in the early morning hours. The Record met up with County Legislator Judi Bosworth to witness the realization of a plan that has been years in the making. Legislator Bosworth said, “It’s so exciting to see the project come to fruition. It is thanks to the community for supporting the project, Nassau County for funding it and the environmentalists for planning a responsible and sound project. Udalls Pond will play a vital role in the watershed by serving as a repository for water runoff and preventing flooding. It will once again support more wildlife and provide a safe haven for migratory birds. It has been a thrill to be a part of bringing it back.”

The story of the dredging project began in 2007 when the late Mayor Leonard Samansky filed an official request with the county to look into restoring the pond. When Ms. Bosworth became a county legislator, she took up the cause and convinced her fellow legislators and county officials that it was a much needed capital project in Great Neck.

Another key individual in the project has been Brian Schneider, Nassau County Department of Public Works hydrogeologist and a certified professional in erosion and sediment control.

The Department of Environmental Conservation does not allow work between April 1 and September 30 so that the nesting and spawning season would not be interrupted. We have entered Phase I of the restoration. This work will include dredging on the east side and part of the west side of the pond as well as wetlands restoration.

According to Mr. Schneider, the dredging operation itself is quiet and not too exciting to watch. He says, “It just looks like a boat sitting on the water...but underneath, it has something like a ‘Hoover’ vacuum that churns the bottom and sucks up the water and sediment in a big hose that then gets pumped into a geo-tube.” The geo-tube looks like a big sausage casing, but its material is porous and will allow the water to drain out. This operation will take place on the Great Neck Park District property just north of the pond. After the geo-tubes have dried out, they are split open and the remaining solids are carted away. Mr. Schneider said that the most entertaining thing one might see in the dredging would be workers “dancing” on the top of the geo-tube to encourage draining. The DEC determines what kind of facility receives the dredged material depending on its level of contamination. Mr. Schneider reported that by borings taken, it has been determined that while the sediment to be dredged is contaminated, it is not hazardous.

There had been a plan to install a boardwalk into the pond for educational experiences, but residents in the area and the library board objected to the idea. It has been dropped from the plan.

Phase II will consist of finishing the dredging, repairing the weir, installing the fish ladder and finishing all other components.

Currently, the pond is fringed with invasive plants, like the Phragmites australis, a marsh reed that spreads by underground rhizomes that are so thick and tough that they crowd out other plants. It has become ubiquitous in waterfront vistas and is an indicator of disturbed environments. The invasive plants will be dug up and native plants will be planted.

Native plants, appropriate to the conditions, are being selected not only to enhance the views of the flora for all seasons, but to provide seeds and berries for birds and other wildlife. While we do not have the final and complete list of plantings, the following comprise a partial list of plants to be installed:

Marsh hibiscus, groundsel bush, seaside goldenrod, pickerel weed, cardinal flower, northern bayberry, saltmarsh or smooth cordgrass, buttonbush, beach plum and pasture rose. One of the requirements for contractors who bid on the plant installation segment of the project will be a survival rate guarantee to insure that the wetlands rehabilitation will be successful.

The contractor who won the bid for the work is a local firm, Galvin Brothers, which has much expertise in wetlands restoration projects. Ed Galvin told the Record that thanks to the mayor of Saddle Rock, Dan Levy and his board and the Water Pollution Control District who have made land available for equipment storage, he expects that the project will be completed by next March.