Reed's Basket Willow Swamp Park

Jerome X. O'Donovan Pond

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This pond is named after Jerome X. O’Donovan (1944 – 2014), more commonly known as “Jay” O’Donovan, a lifelong Staten Island resident and decorated Marine Corps Veteran who earned two bronze stars and a promotion to Captain during the Vietnam War.

After his return from Vietnam, he began his career of public service working as an assistant to the Staten Island Borough President in 1974. He ran for and was elected to the New York City Council in 1982. As the first Vietnam Veteran elected to City Council, O’Donovan served Staten Island’s North Shore between 1982 and 2001. During this time, he was a supporter of local environmental concerns, such as the creation of the Special Hillside Preservation District and acquisition of Jones Woods Park and the Chapin Woods addition to Reed’s Basket Willow Swamp Park.

Brooks and ponds were a common sight on Staten Island up until the 1950s, when construction of pipelines and trenches began to wreak changes on the physical landscape. Large cranes and bulldozers loosened the soil surrounding open water, causing serious erosion. While some of the natural vegetation in these areas was killed off as a result of the changing ecosystem, these changes opened the way for vigorous new growth. Blackberry bushes, Japanese knotweed, swamp white azaleas, and flowering dogwood are just a few of the many species of trees and shrubs presently found in the park.

In 1978, Reed’s Basket Willow Swamp Park was designated as a protected freshwater wetland by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, permanently ensuring its preservation under state law. 

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