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Queens Chronicle

Land sought to add to preserve

Udalls Cove Preservation Committee asks city to purchase five more lots

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:12 am, Thu Aug 29, 2013.

The Udalls Cove Preservation Committee is asking the city once again to step in and buy privately owned land in the cove to prevent development and to add to the nature preserve.

In a letter to the mayor, Walter Mugdan, president of the preservation committee, urged the city to take action as it has in the past. In question are 1-1/2 acres in the ravine section of the preserve. The owner, Ann Turiano, has indicated she wants to sell them, as she done with other land in the area in the past.

“These parcels represent the substantial majority of the land still to be acquired and crucially are the only parcels that have access points to the nearby street network,” Mugdan wrote to Bloomberg.

The 30-acre preserve, in the Douglaston-Little Neck area, features high and low marshes and every kind of shore and wading birds including herons, egrets and ibis. Approximately 25 acres are in the wetlands area and 5-1/2 in the ravine. Udalls Ravine is a watershed that feeds into the cove, which is a tributary of Little Neck Bay and runs into the Long Island Sound.

The ravine area is closest to the firehouse on Northern Boulevard and between 243rd and 247th streets. The wetlands area is located north of the ravine, closest to Little Neck Bay.

Mugdan’s group was organized in 1969 by area homeowners. Since then, the city has purchased parcels of land when they became available and the preserve officially opened in 1989. It is considered a passive recreation area open to the public in a semi-undeveloped state.

Mugdan told the Queens Chronicle last week that he is optimistic the city will do the right thing. “When there’s been a real threat, the city has stepped forward and we hope the city will honor its commitments,” he said.

The preservationist indicated that the lots are undeveloped and “we would like them to stay that way.” He described the property as very wet and not good for building.

Supporting the proposal is Community Board 11. Its chairman, Jerry Iannece, also sent a letter to the city urging the Parks Department to dedicate funds for the acquisition. Iannece said CB 11 has been “an ardent supporter” of the city’s efforts to purchase property when it becomes available.

Mugdan noted that the city’s last purchase in the area was in 2007. His committee continues to do a lot of restoration work to keep the preserve healthy.

In a statement from a Parks Department spokesman, no promises were made about the potential purchase, but the response was taken as positive:

“Strengthening Udalls Cove Park is a priority for the administration and we are exploring every possible means of preserving these parcels. There are a total of 15 parcels that remain to be acquired for Udalls Preserve, for which we have obtained Uniform Land Use Review Process approval. Parks is committed to working with the community and its elected officials to secure the funds to complete this acquisition in order to best strengthen our natural wetlands.”

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