Volunteers for the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee’s annual wetlands cleanup on Saturday filled a 25-cubic-yard Dumpster and got rewarded with a total of $710,000 in city and state funding.
Walter Mugdan, president of the UCPC, said he was “absolutely thrilled” with the surprise announcements from City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) at Saturday’s event, held on Sandhill Road, between Douglaston and Little Neck.
“We now have the good problem of determining where to use the money,” Mugdan said.
Avella provided $210,000 from the state budget that can be used to help purchase the Callender property, a privately owned land just outside the nature preserve. The 11,8000-square-foot parcel went on the market last spring and the UCPC has urged the city to acquire it.
Mugdan’s group and other area associations have pledged $50,000 toward the purchase. The owner is asking $585,000 for the site, but has said he’s flexible about negotiating.
Vallone announced at the cleanup that he and Borough President Melinda Katz were both providing $250,000 each to the UCPC for land acquisition. But Mugdan said they have specified they want the money for purchases within the preserve.
“That means we can’t use the money for the Callender property, but we will talk to them and they might be flexible about its use,” he said.
The UCPC and area groups such as the Douglas Manor Association, the Douglas Manor Environmental Association, Douglas Shores and the Westmoreland Association fear that if the Callender property is sold privately for residential construction, any house would tower over the park and be “an undesirable visual intrusion.”