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$150M plan to put pond back in Alley Pond Park

As construction clogs the roads around Little Neck and Douglaston, creating chaos in an otherwise quiet corner of Queens, it is sometimes hard to remember the work also will be putting the pond back in Alley Pond Park.

The $150 million project to reshape the intersection between the Long Island Expressway and the Cross Island Parkway devotes a significant amount of time and work to restoring parkland to the 655-acre Alley Pond Park.

Last week more than 50 people came to the Douglaston Civic Association’s regular meeting to learn about one aspect of the work: restoration of the original Alley Pond, which sits in the southeast corner of the LIE-Cross Island Parkway intersection.

The pond is 10 feet deep, but it stretched over a much larger area in the 1940s, said Eric Rothstein, a water resources specialist with the city Parks Department.

“Where you see reeds now, you’re going to see open water and a more diverse wetland around it,” Rothstein told the members of the civic.

The work on Alley Pond, a joint effort of the city Department of Transportation and the Parks Department, was slated to begin this summer, engineer Bob Carbone said.

The LIE project includes additions and renovations in the parkland surrounding the intersection of the Long Island Expressway and the Cross Island Parkway. The highway intersection sits in the heart of the park and its current configuration — which features looping entrance/exit ramps — takes up a significant amount of park space.

Other environmental work included in the project, which was initiated by state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), involves restoring a total of 12 acres to Alley Pond Park, reviving the walking trail system within the park, renovating the Tulip Tree Trail in the northwest corner of the highway intersection and significant landscaping.

Parkland will be partially restored by the elimination of the looping entrance/exit ramps, commonly called a clover leaf design. The ramps are to be replaced with direct ramps.

Project engineer Ralph Csogi told the group that about $14 million of the $150 million project was dedicated to landscaping, which will continue into the spring of 2004. Actual construction was expected to end in the fall of 2003.

Main features of the LIE-Cross Island Parkway project, other than rebuilding and reshaping the intersection of the highways, include replacing LIE overpasses in Little Neck and Douglaston.

An updated construction schedule presented at the meeting showed that the Marathon Parkway overpass should be completed around November, while the Douglaston Parkway overpass could take until April 2003.

Csogi said weather would play a key role in how quickly the Douglaston Parkway overpass is finished because the construction includes laying a significant amount of concrete, work requiring good weather.

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

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