Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 13 November 2009 00:00
At the last Herricks School Board meeting Nassau County Architect Brian Schneider, who is a hydrogeologist for the county, detailed the county plans for the Herricks Pond Park, located at the bend between Shelter Rock Road and Searingtown Road.
Before his presentation students from Susan D’Andrilli’s fifth-grade class came before the board and imitated the calls of the many birds that have been spotted at the pond. She then turned the meeting over to Schneider.
Prior to his presentation Schneider said he was a former student at Searingtown and Herricks High and he said he was very excited to be project manager for this particular project, having graduated with degrees from Adelphi University.
He explained that in 2004 there was a referendum put before all the voters in Nassau for $50 million for environmental improvements or open-space purchases and at that time 77 percent of the voters passed that referendum, and so monies became available for open space purchases, park improvements, etc. Two years later, in 2006, another $100 million referendum was passed, again by about 77 percent of the voters freeing up monies for similar projects. Between both referendums, $150 million was set aside by Nassau County for these projects.
Schneider said, “I am actually handling, for Nassau County Department of Public Works, 121 projects and the Herricks Pond Project is one of those projects. I am really tickled that one of the projects is in what was my own backyard. I used to hang out in this area and I think the improvement we are going to make there will be something that everyone can enjoy since it is a focal point of this community. People drop by there all the time.
“People have been heard to say, oh, my God, it’s a lake, it’s a pond, it’s a ditch, it’s disgusting, it needs to be cleaned up and we are going to do that.
“And, with help of the Susan D’Andrilli and the Herricks school board we are going to make it a focal point again and it’s going to be a big improvement.”
Schneider presented a rendering of the pond and what the county plans to do with the pond.
Schneider then said, “There’s a great deal of history on how this pond was formed. There is a drainage function connected with this pond and if you drive by during a rainstorm you will see that the pond level increases tremendously.
“There is a reason for that …there is a very large drainage area or watershed that is feeding water into this pond. The water doesn’t just stay here because there is an outlet structure that allows the water to leave the pond and go into a drainage system under Herricks Road.
“It then goes a little bit further south to a storm water basin or a sump that is located about ½ mile south. From there the water from that basin continues south; it is not a dead end, which is a little further south of Hempstead Turnpike where there is a Town of Hempstead ball field that used to be a dairy barn structure.
“From there it goes even further south which is right at Old Country Road and Herricks Road, by the railroad tracks. From there the water leaves that basin and continues south underneath Hempstead Turnpike and discharges into what is called Pines Brook. From there the water flows south into an open channel and goes past Echo Park and through Halls Pond and goes into Tanglewood Pond, leaves there and goes into Smith Pond which is receiving water for Hempstead Lake. It discharges underneath Merrick Road and Sunrise Highway by Lister Park in Rockville Centre where the water that previously was in Herricks Pond is now flowing down East Rockaway.
“So there is a big story here. The pond was formed when the glaciers came down from Canada and basically there was a very large grinding from the sheer weight of the glaciers and the actual digging of the glaciers into the sediments causes a hole. When the glacier starts to recede the glacier gets filled with glacier melt water.
“There are a number of kettle ponds, which Herricks Pond is, throughout Nassau County and on Long Island which is a direct result of the glaciers advancing and retreating. There is tremendous geological history on Long Island and it is studied by many geologists.”
Schneider continued, “Now, we have Herricks Pond Park and it is managed by the Nassau County Department of Recreation even though it does serve as a park and drainage function.
“So, when this pond park was nominated, we tried to come up with a park feature without taking away the drainage function of the pond and to also use it as an educational outdoor classroom, which I think is a terrific idea and a testament to Mrs. D’Andrilli to see how important outdoor classrooms are.”
Schneider said, “So, this is what we are looking to do. We wanted to create a formulized asphalt path around the park that will follow the contour of the land and that is what we are doing, starting at a little cutoff area on the east side of the pond so that buses can drive off Searingtown road so that students can be offloaded safely.”
He said, “We move around the contour of the land to this portion which will basically be the outdoor classroom portion in connection with a boardwalk that will be built out over the pond.
“There will be a little seating area which is going to be built on a slope and in combination with grass so that basically will be sitting almost on a stone wall and there is enough room there for about 35 kids.
“From there the path will continue all the way a round and end up with the sidewalk. We did not want to extend the path all the way around the pond because we wanted to centralize the activities in that area. The boardwalk is a design we have used in a couple of pond locations and people seem to like it because you get a little closer to the water.
“In combination with the overlook we are planting more than 1100 trees, shrubs and wetland type grasses over the entire perimeter of the pond. And that serves a couple of purposes. If you look at the pond now you will see erosion that is taking place because there isn’t sufficient enough vegetation that is holding the bank in place. And, from the county’s perspective they have to come with a mower and mowing the grass down as short as it possibly can so that they don’t have to come back for a long time. That is not the best approach for any type of water body. What a water body should have vegetation around the edge to hold it in place. So we will be planting all kinds of wetland shrubs to keep the bank in place and it will cut down on the amount of maintenance.
“Further, there is big education component here. We are trying to attract all sorts of wildlife. We are looking to attract birds, fish, there are fish living in the pond and we don’t know how they got there with the drainage being so extensive, but no alligators. The trees and shrubs will bare fruit throughout the year and that will help to attract insects, butterflies, etc.”
Schneider concluded “We are also going to put up a fence around the outside boundary to protect the motorists and to segregate this pond from any type of vehicle traffic, so we are in the middle of getting prices for an ornamental fence that will be attached to the water property fence at the southwest of the pond and that should protect people from going into areas we really don’t want them to go into. And, we feel that all of this will be a huge improvement. As far as timing is concerned we have a couple ways to go. We put a set of construction drawings together and them put then out to bid on the street. We did have another way, we have a construction contractor on retainer and right now he’s evaluating the project and he’s coming up with bids based on items in his contract and if we have enough money we will use that approach. If that is the case then we could be in there before the dead of winter to start the actual construction. If not it will go to bid where we think we can get better numbers. So we could start the project in four- to -six weeks, or it could be in the spring.”
In answer to a question regarding storms, he explained that in the case of a really large rainfall there is no way to keep the water in the pond from overflowing, although it does not happen often. He added, that the water table in this area is high, and he said it was due to the glaciers.
Someone wanted to know why the pond doesn’t freeze as it used to years ago and Schneider said, “First of all the county no longer has anyone at these parks in the winter. The real reason why the pond does not freeze is that the winters are a little bit milder and the second reason is that the storm water runoff that enters into these water bodies is much warmer than the groundwater. Once we have a storm water event it will warm up the water enough to prevent it from freezing.”
Another resident wanted to know about parking and Schneider said that there is enough parking at the Shelter Rock Library and later on the concept is to extend the walkway to the library.
A resident wanted to know if there was some way to keep the litter away from the pond and someone suggested that perhaps the high school students would use that as a cleanup project, plus it was suggested that the as a Scout could help using this as boy scout project. Schneider did note that the litter was basically caused by people overflowing their garbage cans without covers and from folks throwing things out the windows of autos.
As far as the geese are concerned, in answer to a question about them, Schneider said that the county has a program of egg oiling that prevents the geese eggs from hatching which controls the geese population to a certain extent.
The very informative program ended and the school board meeting continued with a report from the external auditor, who said the district was a pleasure to come to since it was so well organized.
The board then met with the head of the Herricks PTA who wanted to know how midyear cuts, proposed by the New York State governor would be handled by the district.
School board president Richard Buckley said that since the cuts have not actually been made that the district cannot project how they will be handled.
After approving the purchase of Blackberries for principals, director of Shelter Rock Academy, director of music, assistant director of pupil personnel, assistant principals, lead teachers, director of athletics director of pupil personnel services and district computer coordinator, since the cost was not that much more than cell phones, the board adjourned to executive session.
The next Herricks Board meeting will be held on Nov. 19 at the Denton Avenue School at 7:15 p.m.