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Pond Restoration Project Nearly Complete

Progress report from Friends of Massapequa Preserve

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, over 50 people gathered at the Bar Harbour Library to attend the 11th annual meeting of the Friends of Massapequa Preserve to, in the words of its president, Richard Schary “review both the progress Friends [has] made….and the continuous challenges we face.”

Schary was able to report progress on the $6 million stream enhancement and pond restoration project, now in its fourth year and one that had resulted in some damages in the parts of the Preserve.

“A lot has changed since then,” Schary reported in the Friends’ newsletter. “The project is about 98 percent complete. A few disturbed areas still need remediation, but reseeding and replanting may have to wait until the warmth of spring. The most visible locations that need restoration are: From the entrance gate of Parkside and Pittsburgh avenues to the pond, around the second pond north of Clark Boulevard and by the pump house on Sunrise Highway. The shoreline that was trimmed back and mowed down along the Reservoir north of the LIRR tracks is not part of this project; the Federal government’s bureau in charge of dam safety ordered this done. It will eventually be replanted with grass seed, once further engineering studies are completed.” The project is expected to be complete by the spring of 2012.

“Most of the other disturbed sections have begun to grow back quite nicely through a combination of replanting, reseeding, and the natural succession of Mother Nature,” Schary further reported. “Friends has kept a constant watchful eye on the entire process, and most members tell us that the Preserve is looking better than ever. The entire project was carried out with a minimum of complaints for any project of its scope and size in County history. We have to thank our members, the designers (Cameron Engineering), the contractor (Bove Industries), Brian Schneider and Chris Vella of the Nassau County Department of Public Works and Nassau County Legislator Peter J. Schmitt and his staff – all of whom went out of their way to protect and support the Preserve since the project began.”

In other news, Schary noted that a pumping station on Sunrise Highway has not been fully activated. Consequently, a pipe designed to pump fresh water from that thoroughfare to the Preserve’s stream is not fully operative. Schary also claimed that dredging at one of the ponds has deprived the Preserve of various bird species, including the common snipe. Schary did speculate that dredging might attract other species of birds, but that it is too early to know for sure.

General maintenance of the vast Preserve remains a major project of Friends. Towards that end, Schary praised the efforts of various Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and their troops for doing extensive renovation work in the Preserve, including litter pickups, landscaping, painting benches, walkway installations, clearing overgrowth and trash, painting out graffiti, and clearing out paved paths. More specifically, Schary praised Peter LaMassa (Cub Scout Pack 776), Nick Placa (Troop 691), Christian Wolfe (Troop 33), Andrew Bloniarz (Troop 656), Eddie Markiewicz (Troop 189), and Luke Colle (Troop 339).

At the meeting, Schary reiterated that the Friends are not interested in actively managing the Preserve. “We are only volunteers,” he said, “and when volunteers do help out, they have to be careful to avoid union issues, and not do things civil service employees are paid to do. All projects that we sponsor, such as Eagle Scout projects, are done with advance written approval by county agencies.”

In all, Schary continues to urge members of Friends of Massapequa Preserve to be the “eyes and ears” of the Preserve. “There’s always going to be graffiti, vandalism, litter, dumping, fires, drinking, drugs, and illegal motorized vehicles both inside and outside the Preserve,” Schary noted, adding that members need to “communicate and work with County agencies to eliminate a good deal of negative behavior in the Preserve.”

With 6,000 visitors on weekends and 200,000 visitors a year, the Preserve remains second only to Eisenhower Park as the most popular such destination on Long Island, giving Friends members much to do and to work for in the years ahead.