Written by Patricia Aitken, Friends of the Bay executive director Friday, 03 December 2010 00:00
Members of the Oyster Bay community came together in the Friends of the Bay office on the evening of Nov. 18 to review conceptual plans prepared by Cameron Engineering for the Mill Pond Overlook property. The plans were developed in consultation with an advisory committee which consisted of representatives from the Town Of Oyster Bay, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the North Shore Land Alliance and Friends of the Bay.
Cameron Engineering considered the topography and ecology of the site in developing their plans. There are some magnificent beech, tulip and black walnut trees, as well as some remnant ornamental species. Invasive species, like Norway Maples, Asian bittersweet, and English Ivy would need to be removed. Many bird species utilize the woods, especially during the spring and fall migrations.
There are interesting man-made features on the property. One of them, an old concrete pad on the lower part of the wetland, may have been a cow barn at one time. I remember seeing a picture of cows grazing on the property in the early 1900s. If anyone has knowledge of this, or has any information on this concrete pad, your assistance would be appreciated in clarifying what purpose this served. There is also an old chimney which has toppled over.
There are challenges and opportunities in developing a conceptual plan. There are steep slopes between the upper meadow and the lower edge of the property bordering the Mill Pond, as well as erosion and illegal dumping activity. There are multiple opportunities for educational activities, and passive recreation.
There were two conceptual plans presented by Cameron Engineering. Both plans call for signage and educational materials which will be used to highlight ecological and historical features. The signage would be vandal resistant, and possibly podcasts or audio walking tours could be developed to further inform visitors to the site.
A split rail fence along the lower property edge was proposed to form a boundary with the Refuge property and protect habitat, as well as a fence along the slope at the hill top for safety. Some trees (Norway Maples) would be removed and others limbed up to allow open views to the pond and encourage understory growth. Sufficient tree cover would be retained to prevent erosion.
The major differences in the plans are the way in which parking is designed, and the manner in which the upper meadow area is utilized. The complete presentation, including the draft conceptual plans, can be viewed on the Friends of the Bay website at www.friendsofthebay.org.
After the presentation, attendees divided into three groups to consider the conceptual plans, comment upon them and make suggestions. The general consensus of the group present seemed to be that the best use of the space would be for passive recreational activities and education and that “less is more.” If you wish to submit a comment, or make a suggestion about the way in which the Mill Pond Overlook could be utilized, you may do so at Friends of the Bay’s blog, which can be reached from our website.
Barry Lamb, president of the Board of Friends of the Bay said “It was evident that the conceptual plans presented were already very in tune with what the community had in mind for this property; low impact access that allows for the enjoyment of this beautiful area. The community members who attended offered some very insightful ideas, many of which will likely be incorporated into the final plan.”
The next step in the process is to incorporate the public comments into the draft final plan. Comments on the Mill Pond Overlook Plan can be submitted until Dec. 10.