New log cabin lets APEC hold classes outside in winter

Former state Sen. Frank Padavan donated most of the money needed to build a log cabin at Alley Pond Environmental Center. Photo by Sarina Trangle
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Alley Pond Environmental Center’s outdoor classroom has been able to weather its first winter, thanks to a new log cabin.

Workers tore down the so-called Padavan Pavilion, a tent APEC used as a classroom during seasonal weather, and placed a rustic cabin it its footprint this summer.

Because the log cabin come with air conditioning and heating, APEC Executive Director Irene Scheid said the organization should be able to hold birthday parties and programs for visiting schools outdoors come rain, snow, sleet or extreme heat.

“It wasn’t usable in winter months and it was uncomfortable in raining months or when it got really hot,” Scheid said of the Padavan Pavilion, a tent constructed on a wooden platform in 2000.

The new four-season facility should cut down on APEC’s lengthy waiting list, Scheid said.

“It’s made a nice dent in it,” she said. “Last year we had 10,000 at the end of the school year. I don’t know what it will be yet this year.”

Students of all ages have sat in the cabin while the class visited APEC for nature walks and lessons on animals, ecosystems, natural resources and sustainability.

“Some groups absolutely love being out here all alone, where it’s nice and quiet,” Scheid said.

A wooden ramp leads up to the porch of the cabin. The forest green door and window shutters stand out against the cinnamon color of the wood. The interior sides of the logs are pale, creating a sunny atmosphere.

The cabin served as headquarters for APEC’s day camp-style Pioneer program this summer. It has also been used for tween birthday parties, which include owl pellet dissection labs and a spa day complete with lessons on how to make essentials for aromatherapy and massage sessions. The wooden structure was even featured in the environmental education organization’s Halloween celebration as a witches’ hut.

Former state Sen. Frank Padavan personally provided most — $21,000 — of the $25,000 used to fund the project. The remaining $4,000 came from private donations and money allocated by city and state elected officials.

Padavan could not be reached for comment.

Scheid said Padavan had previously helped APEC get a grant for the pavilion and sought to resurrect the outdoor classroom upon learning the tent was falling apart.

“It outlived its expectancy,” Scheid said. “It wasn’t going to last much longer.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at

Posted 12:00 am, January 1, 2014
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Reader feedback

Kenneth Kowald from I Sit and Look Out says:
Another triumph for APEC, which has been one of the shining jewels in the Queens crown for many years. Irene Scheid, her fine staff, involved board members, public officials, corporations and thousands of individual supporters have been responsible for this great place. It has been decades of hard, smart work and it has paid off, to the benefit of tens of thousands Queens residents and beyond. Hooray!

Kenneth Kowald
Jan. 2, 2014, 5:07 pm

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