Udall's Park Preserve

Swamps in the City: Aurora Pond Restored

Monday, October 23, 2006
No. 100

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined City Council Member Tony Avella, Community Board 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld, and Udalls Cove Preservation Committee (UCPC) President Walter Mugdan to cut the ribbon on the $1.26 million restoration of Aurora Pond in Udalls Cove Park Preserve. City Council funded the ecological restoration of Aurora Pond, which is named for Aurora Gareiss who was instrumental in the preservation of the Udalls Cove wetlands.

"Udalls Cove Park Preserve is one of many wetland oases where New Yorkers can escape the city’s hard surfaces and hustle to embrace nature," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Located in the middle of the preserve, the placid waters of Aurora Pond offer a tranquil and natural setting where park goers can take in the lush surroundings. The newly-restored pond now exemplifies the natural beauty that Aurora Gareiss saw in these beloved wetlands."

Aurora Pond was excavated, the bottom reinforced, and a stream channeled in and out of the pond. The restored pond can now reliably fill up to six feet deep. The eroded gully was repaired with a series of stone terraces that will function like a waterfall during storms. Erosion control measures were taken, as well as invasive vines removed and native species installed. Pathways encircle the pond and Adirondack-style railings were installed at an overlook and a small bridge.

The pond is named in honor of the nature lover and citizen activist, Aurora Gareiss, co-founder of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee. In the 1960s, when the neighborhood was rapidly developing, the wetlands between Douglaston and Little Neck were threatened by development and golf course proposals. Aurora Gareiss dedicated her time and energy to protecting the marshes and swamplands of her neighborhood and preached about their importance in the quality of water in the Cove. Her efforts resulted in the Udalls Cove Park and Wildlife Preserve. She passed in 2000 but her legacy lives on in this newly-restored pond, a reminder that New York is not just a city of subways and skyscrapers but also one of swamps and wildlife.

The upgrades to Udalls Cove Park Preserve do not stand alone in the borough of Queens. Since 2002, Parks & Recreation has invested $155 million in Queens parks. There is also currently an additional $75 million in design or planning as well as $66 million in active construction to be completed over the next two years.

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