Replanting work begins in weedy corner of Udalls Cove

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A section of Udalls Cove is undergoing a major renovation that will include the removal of weeds that have overrun the Douglaston site as well as the planting of 14 species that are indigenous to the northeast Queens shoreline.

A landscape contractor began work Nov. 4 on the $17,000 renovation of the Udalls Cove Park and Preserve’s Virginia Point section, which is located north of the Little Neck Parkway’s northern terminus, said Walter Mugdan, president of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee.

“We want the site to permanently have types of vegetation that are indigenous or useful to the wildlife,” he said. “It will look nicer, but will also be a better habitat for critters.”

The rectangular-shaped parcel of land has become heavily overgrown with several species of weeds, including mugwort and porcelainberry, Mugdan said. The invasive vegetation is being removed and its roots are being grubbed out to prevent regrowth.

The restoration will also include the planting of 14 plant species native to the area, such as redstem dogwood, shadblow, American holly, bayberry, red cedar, iris and black-eyed Susan.

The project is a collaboration between the Udalls Cove committee and the city’s Parks Department. A wetlands permit for the project has been issued by the state’s Environmental Conservation Department and forestry permits given from the Parks Department.

The restoration is being funded through contributions to the committee, Mugdan said.

The Virginia Point section of the cove had two commercial boat yards until the early 1960s. Most of the area is now wooded, while several wooden bulkheads and an abandoned boat are the sole remainders of the former marinas.

“The location is an access point at which people can get into the park,” Mugdan said. “But it’s been overgrown by weeds for a few years. You wouldn’t be able to get through it unless you hacked your way through with a machete. Now, people will have a nice view of the marshland and could do some bird watching.”

The group started its upgrades at the site in the early 1990s, planting hundreds of trees in a section of the park at Northern Boulevard. From 2003 to 2006, the committee removed 1.5 million pounds of concrete rubble that had been dumped several decades earlier into a portion of the cove’s ravine near the Douglaston Firehouse. Last year a major erosion control and restoration project was completed in the ravine.

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) have secured $100,000 in grants to restore portions of the cove, while the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee has raised an additional $65,000.

At an October Community Board 11 meeting, Mugdan had proposed acquiring four acres of land near the cove that have not been included in the ongoing process of keeping development off the northeast Queens shoreline. He had said the site was not currently being eyed for development in the current economic downturn, but it could be a “prime piece of property” when development picks back up in the borough.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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