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Additional Parcels to be Acquired for the Park

January, 2003

             A considerable amount of the land that is included within the mapped boundaries of the Udalls Cove Park and Preserve has not yet been acquired by the City Parks Department � even 30 years and more after the Park was created.  The majority of the privately-owned land within the Park borders is located in the �Ravine� portion of the Park.  The Ravine is mostly wooded upland, bounded by Northern Boulevard on the south, the Long Island Rail Road on the north, 243rd Street in Douglaston on the west, and 247th Street in Little Neck on the east.  It is made up of a number of parcels or lots, many of them quite large.  

            In the late 1970's the City acquired the largest of all these parcels, which fronts on Northern Boulevard immediately opposite St. Anastasia�s Church.  The Church owned that parcel, and was planning to sell it to a developer.  The City bought it instead.  Over the subsequent years, several additional parcels were acquired, but the majority of the Ravine remains in private hands. 

            During the second half of 2002, several or the privately owned parcels were surveyed.  When local residents spoke to the surveyors, the were told there were plans to build houses on these parcels � that is, in our Park.  (Some rumors had it that 43rd Avenue would be built through from Douglaston to Little Neck, and 18 houses would be built along it.) 

             Until the City acquires the property, the mere fact that it intended for inclusion in the Park is not enough to prevent a private owner from trying to develop his land.  To be sure, there are difficulties a developer would face.  For example, much of the Ravine is mapped as �Freshwater Wetlands� under the New York State wetlands protection law.   A State permit would be required before an owner could build in the mapped wetlands, or within a 100 foot wide �adjacent area� around the wetlands.  A public hearing would be required before such a permit could be issued.  Still, wetlands permits are sometimes granted; and there are other parts of the Ravine which are not within the mapped wetlands or adjacent area, where no wetlands permit would be required � only a City building permit, which doesn�t require a public hearing, and which could be granted without us even knowing that an application had been filed.  In short, acquisition is the only way to ensure that the Park is finally completed and forever protected. 

            When we learned of the surveying activities, we contacted all our local elected officials as well as the City Parks Department and the State Department of Environmental Conservation (which is in charge of the wetlands permits).   The President of our organization spoke to  Community Board 11 requesting that acquisition of key parcels in the Ravine remain a high capital budget priority for the community, as it has been for many years.  (We were successful � it remains on CB-11's priority list.)  We also worked with other concerned community groups, including the Douglaston Civic Association, the Little Neck Pines Civic Association, the Westmoreland Association, the Alley Pond Environmental Center, and the State Northeast Queens Nature & Historic Preserve Commission.

             Ultimately, State Senator Frank Padavan came through for us, as he has so many times before.  He worked directly with City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and on January 10, 2003, Padavan announced that Benepe had informed him of the City�s decision to acquire eight additional parcels (totaling about 2.5 acres), including some of those that were most at risk.  We are very thankful for the efforts of the Parks Department, Senator Padavan, and all the others who helped make this possible.  However, several vulnerable parcels continue to exist, and are not slated for acquisition in this round.  We will continue to work until all the parcels within the Park boundary have been acquired and protected.

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Last modified: 02/08/15  

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