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APEC celebrates 25 years, honors its supporters

After 25 years of nature walks, bird-watching and star gazing, the staff and supporters of Alley Pond Environmental Center came together Saturday night to celebrate the silver anniversary of the group’s Northern Boulevard headquarters.

Alley Pond Environmental Center, or APEC, has occupied its small, squat building at 228-06 Northern Blvd. since 1976, giving the public and the borough’s schools a comprehensive educational resource for environmental issues, Director Irene Scheid said.

Saturday’s anniversary event at the headquarters also gave APEC the chance to honor contributor and past President William Nieter, Scheid said, and to celebrate with traditional supporters such as state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose).

APEC has been headquartered in one of the most environmentally aware communities in the borough, where residents have fought to maintain the wetlands of nearby Udall’s Cove in Douglaston and Little Neck. The APEC building is on the edge of the wetlands section of Alley Pond Park, a 655-acre park and the second largest in Queens.

“We’re excited,” Scheid said. “The actual anniversary of the cutting of the ribbon was Nov. 14, so we’re coming pretty close.”

Padavan called the 25th anniversary of APEC “a milestone” and said that since the group moved into its current headquarters, it has been “a presence as an educational vehicle to an enormous number of people as well as a watchdog and developer as to the resources of the Alley Pond corridor.”

The senator has been a strong supporter of APEC over the years, often providing the group with state funding. In 2000, Padavan secured funding for a new outdoor classroom just behind the current APEC building, a facility the APEC staff named the Padavan Pavilion in his honor.

Acquiring the Padavan Pavilion was a significant step for the group, Scheid said.

“It allowed us to expand our programs,” she said, giving school classes more opportunity to take advantage of APEC’s resources for classes about the environment.

Scheid said the 25th anniversary celebration comes amid a difficult atmosphere when cultural and nonprofit institutions across the city are being starved of funding.

“The doors aren’t closing,” said Scheid, who began working at APEC as an intern in 1980 and has been the director for about 10 years.

Scheid said APEC has cut back on staff salaries and let go a few employees to make ends meet in the wake of the city’s current budget problems.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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