The planned dredging of Baxter Pond and renovation of the surrounding park has apparently stalled under the weight of bureaucratic red tape, according to officials.
If you've driven by the fenced-off Nassau County park and empty pond on Central Drive at Shore Road and asked: "What's going on there?" join the club. The mayor and trustees of the neighboring Village of Baxter Estates are asking the same question.
Some of the bureaucratic snags were spelled out by a village official familiar with the project at an Oct. 16 meeting of the board of trustees.
"It looks like hell," said Baxter Commissioner of Environmental Affairs Jake Eisenman. "The project appears to be stalled at this time."
"How do we explain to the people of this community what's going on at the pond?" quizzed Mayor John H. Weaver. "It's in our village but it's their pond. What's holding this up?"
Though it's not directly involved in the renovation of the county land, the village is concerned with the progress and condition of the pond and park that bears its name. The county has contracted out the project to a general contractor, Tradewinds Environmental Restoration.
Last month, the Department of Environmental Conservation pulled a drainage permit it had already issued the project, saying previous pumpage estimates were too low (Port Washington News Sept. 28). That accounts for "two weeks" of the already month delay in work, according to Eisenman.
"The DEC pulled their own permit, saying they had to pump more water," he said. "The delay's been about a month. Two weeks of that are because of the DEC. The next two weeks? They (Tradewinds) basically don't have an excuse why nothing's happened. We see this as stalling," he said.
"Money is not an issue," he said. "Nassau County funds are there for the project."
"At this point, they're getting close to missing some critical deadlines. The pond should be dredged by winter so plantings can be installed in the spring."
The board agreed to contact the county's engineering firm to assess the project's status. "If this contractor is in default, we have a right to know," said trustee Fred Nicholson. "It's an eyesore now and in the spring it could become a health issue with West Nile virus."
Eisenman noted that he expects to get a progress report and work schedule late last week and that the deadline for completion of the project "is about one calendar year away."