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The water is back in Baxter Pond, but only temporarily.

Drive by Baxter Pond Park at Shore Road and Central Drive and you'll notice the muckj and mire of the last few months is again covered by water.

Workers have "re-plugged" the pond's drainage to Manhasset Bay and allowed the water level to rise to its previous level, but the pond's dredging and renovation is not yet complete. Officials hope the full pond will trap the mud and silt produced while crews dredge and restructure the upper brook area that feeds the pond, according to a local environmental official.

"Technically, they should be letting the water flow out into the bay," said Jake Eisenman, Village of Baxter Estates Commissioner of Environmental Affairs. "However, when they're working on the stream, (a full pond) helps to keep the mud and silt from flowing into the bay."

"Dredging the stream is a two-to-three month project," he said at a Dec. 18 meeting of the board of trustees. "As long as it's reasonable weather, they'll be down there working."

Mayor John Weaver noted the full water level won't last when dredging of the main pond starts. "The 'de-watering' is still necessary," he said. "It'll happen."

Baxter Estates is not directly involved in the re-firb of the Nassau County-owned park, but because of the pond's proximity and association with the surrounding community, village officials are closely monitoring - and gently encouraging - the project's progress. The planning, construction, and price tag are being picked up by the county.

Though the pond's renovation was recently "stalled" in red-tape (Port Washington News Oct. 26), Eisenman said the snags have been cleared, work is back on schedule, and the park should be open by late 2001.

Plans call for dredging of the stream and pond, construction of a sediment-flow catch basin at the head of the pond, an access road to service it, and the final plantings around the pond before the park can reopen "next fall - early fall," he said.

"The pond is not the cleaner," he said. "That sediment flow basin will be the primary pollution filter for the pond, but we're going to have to monitor it and service it. The failure of the pond in the past has been the build-up of sedimentation."

According to nearby residents, he said, the previous catch basin hadn't been cleared for decades, causing pond and bay pollution.

"The neighbors told me (the county) hasn't cleaned the sedimentation trap for 30 years," he said.

"It hasn't been cleaned for years," said a former village official familiar with local public works projects. "You have to maintain it. It has to be done yearly, not let it go for 15 or 20 years."

"Once a year may not be enough," said Eisenman. "We'll have to keep an eye on it."


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