Restored Udalls Cove Trails to Reopen as Osprey Landing

Udalls Cove Preservation Committee and Douglas Manor Association teaming up to improve trails, remove trees in section of park.

The Udalls Cove Preservation Committee is teaming up with the for a project that would improve the trails in a segment of .

Osprey Landing, which was formerly known as the “Poppa Property,” is in the northwest corner of the park and located immediately south of Memorial Field.

The two-acre parcel extends east from Douglas Road – between the intersections of Warwick Avenue and Richmond Road – to the tidal channel at the head of the cove.

The two Douglaston organizations will attempt to restore the trails and reopen them by Earth Day, said Walter Mugdan, president of the preservation committee.

“This is an area that we almost lost 40 years ago and what we now want to do is give residents an opportunity to enjoy the lovely views out over the Udalls Cove salt marsh,” he said.

Mugdan said the locale, which lies between Douglaston and Little Neck, is also a and fishing when the tide is high.

Just several decades ago, the site was a wasteland. Until the 1970s, the property was a low-lying marsh overrun by phragmites, which are tall, slender reeds with fuzzy fronds on top.

In 1972, the parcel was acquired by Robert Cassandro, who planned to construct houses at the site. But several years later, dump trucks began dropping loads of concrete and asphalt into the wetlands.

Eventually, the site was filled with more than 10 feet of debris. Some soil had been dumped on the surface, which Mugdan said had the appearance of a “moonscape with nothing growing anywhere.”

The preservation committee lobbied to get the parcel designated as open space and included into Udalls Cove Park.

Dumping ceased at the site and trees, shrubs, vines and weeds began to grow in its pockets of soil.

A June 2010 and to the five boroughs last August wreaked havoc in Udalls Cove.

Numerous trees and limbs came crashing down, blocking access to the park’s trails, Mugdan said.

Earlier this year, Tom Oliva, of the Douglas Manor Association, proposed that the preservation committee and the Douglas Manor Environmental Association join forces to fix up the trails and reopen the site as Osprey Landing.

The new name pays homage to the osprey-nesting platform across from the tidal channel where the birds live each year from March to October.

“We’re proud to be able to support this effort,” said Jaime Sutherland, secretary of the Douglas Manor Association. “My family went to the first Udalls Cove cleanup, so I have a particular fondness for this project. Bird watchers from all over the world come here.”

The DMA and the preservation committee are sharing the costs for the project and have hired local contractor Teilis Landscaping, which has previously performed upgrades at the park.

Currently, damaged trails and downed trees have been identified and tagged with green surveyors. The trails will be covered with woodchips.

The preservation committee has submitted a permit to the city Parks Department’s Forestry Division.

Mugdan said he hopes the permit will be issued in upcoming weeks. He estimates the removal of the trees would take two or three days.

The current plan is to reopen the trails by mid-April.


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