Residents pitch in to help clean Udalls Cove

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Photo gallery

Youngsters Malcolm Deluca (l.) and Tristan Thakur haul a bag of trash to a Dumpster at Memorial Field in Douglaston during a cleanup of Udalls Cove.28. Photo by Christina Santucci
Youth volunteers with the Douglaston Leo Club join in to help clean debris from parkland. Photo by Steve Mosco
Anna Dulberg, 10, helps her father Matt remove pieces of tires from Udalls Cove. Photo by Christina Santucci
State Sen. Tony Avella stands with Udalls Cove Preservation President Walter Mugdan, state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein and Douglaston-area volunteers before commencing the spring cleaning. Photo by Steve Mosco
Isabella Heitz does her part to help clear trash from Udalls Cove and the surrounding parks. Photo by Steve Mosco
Jessica Zawadzki gets some help hauling trash at Memorial Field in Douglaston from her daughter Georgie, 6. Photo by Christina Santucci
Mulch is collected in a wheelbarrow. Photo by Christina Santucci
Matt Dulberg wades into mud to try to remove a tire. Photo by Christina Santucci
Keither Hendler shovels mulch into a pile. Photo by Christina Santucci

Spring cleaning is not just another intolerable indoor chore to a group of environmentally engaged residents from northeast Queens.

Each year, the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee organizes a cleanup that puts citizens and elected officials to work clearing debris from Douglaston’s Udalls Cove Park, as well as Aurora Pond, Osprey Landing, Virginia Point and the Old Oak Pond section of Alley Pond Park.

Close to 100 Little Neck, Great Neck, and Douglaston community residents gathered last weekend with area leaders to volunteer their time to the annual cleaning.

Aside from the task of clearing trash from the parkland, this year’s tidying up of the area included clearing away the work of Hurricane Sandy. Walter Mugdan, president of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee, said the storm brought down trees and thereby increased the workload for preservationists.

“We’ve had three storms here in a short amount of time, culminating with Hurricane Sandy,” Mugdan said, referring to damaging tornadoes and tropical storm Irene preceding last October’s superstorm. “As a result we’ve had plenty of floating trash wash onto our shores.”

Mugdan said the beauty of the parkland would not exist without the work of several elected officials, including state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), who both rolled up their sleeves to help clean up the area.

“Everyone who lives around here is involved in some way,” said Braunstein. “And it takes a community effort to keep the cove such a wonderful place.”

The 44th annual wetlands cleanup would not be possible without Mugdan and the preservation committee, according to Avella.

“You cannot put a price tag on what Walter does every year,” said Avella. “It takes a lot of work to keep this jewel of the borough clean.”

Mugdan said each year the cove falls victim to vandals who set bonfires, drink beer and leave their trash behind. Mugdan said it is a delicate balance keeping the park open to young people, while also discouraging damaging behavior.

“We want them to utilize this beautiful land, but we ask that they clean up after themselves,” he said, acknowledging the number of young people from the community who help with the cleanup every year. “There seem to be more young people here than usual and that is encouraging.”

Young people ducked under brush and climbed over fallen trees to reach some garbage-strewn stretches of park trails. Armed with black garbage bags and protected with thick work gloves, young women including Amy and Audrey Blackmore, Mary O’Byrne, Daniella Rubbo and Isabella and Catherine Heitz worked the cleanup while enjoying the cool spring morning.

With a healthy dose of enthusiasm, Amy Blackmore navigated a fallen tree to cross a stream.

“Is this safe?” she asked, as she crossed over the stream to reach a discarded fast food wrapper on the other side.

“They are the ones to protect the natural beauty of this area for years to come,” said Mugdan of the girls.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 11:23 am, April 29, 2013
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Reader feedback

Kenneth Kowald from I Sit and Look Out says:
I remember when these areas were saved for future generations and it is good to know so many realize the value of the places. A history of that effort should be something all students learn about how they can help their own sites in the world.
Hurrah for all the volunteers!
Kenneth Kowald
April 27, 2013, 7:51 pm

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