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Parks kicks off $623K repairs to Udalls Cove’s Aurora Pond

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The $623,000 construction project is intended to restore the faltering pond to its former natural beauty. The pond, once spanning an entire acre near Sandhill Road, was undermined in the 1990s when the city, while dredging accumulated sediment from the pond, accidently broke a natural retaining barrier made of leaves and silt. As water drained out, the pond eventually became "little more than a shallow weed-choked mud puddle," the Parks Department said in a news release."We are delighted that at long last this has begun," said Gloria Bodie, executive director of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee. "We feel that all of the studies have been done and the restoration will be done properly." The restoration is expected to last a year and will include lining the pond's base with clay to prevent further drainage, the Parks Department said. In addition, the nearby Gabler's Creek will be rerouted to the pond to restore the water level, and an eroding gully will be channeled into a series of small pools and waterfalls to minimize sediment collection in the pond. Native vegetation will be planted and a viewing area is planned adjacent to Sandhill Road, according to the Parks Department."Aurora Pond's restoration reaffirms New York City's commitment to protecting this treasured environmental preserve from development," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "We are especially grateful to the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee and state Sen. Frank Padavan for their ongoing support of Udalls Ravine."The funding for the pond restoration had been secured by former Bayside Councilman Mike Abel before he left office in 2001. A Parks Department spokesman said the monies had been made available this year by Mayor Michael Bloomberg after the funding had been tied up in the past few years' fiscal crisis.The pond is named for local preservationist Aurora Gareiss, who had founded the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee in 1969 to fight for the cove's protection from development. The pond was actually formed when Gabler's Creek was rerouted during the construction of Sandhill Road in the 1940s, thereby damming the water and creating the pond.Bodie said that now was an auspicious moment for the cove's preservation, a project spanning 30 years and focused primarily on the city's acquisition of the privately owned wetlands and wooded areas. She cited the recent $2 million allocation in the city's 2005 budget to acquire the remaining 4.5 acres, thereby completing the city's purchase of nearly 120 acres of the cove's area."It's all coming together," Bodie said. "They kept telling us for years, 'It's going to start in the spring, it's going to start in the fall, it's going to start in the spring.' The start date has come."Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:18 pm, October 10, 2011
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