Queens preservationists and a local community board want the city to save some of the last remaining parcels of Udalls Cove Park from development.
Several acres of privately owned wetlands and wooded uplands in the park’s ravine have come under new threat, according to Community Board 11 and the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee.
“This week we have learned that the owner of most of that land now seeks to sell it,” said Walter Mugdan, the committee’s president. “That means the threat of development within the park boundary has arisen once more.”
Advocates say the cove’s salt water marshes and freshwater wetlands are a sanctuary for wildlife in the city.
An inlet of Little Neck Bay between Douglaston and Great Neck, it is home to a variety of animals including salamanders, muskrats and the occasional fox, nearby residents said.
“It’s one of the last salt marshes in the city of New York at least on the north shore,” said CB 11 chair Jerry Iannece.
Neighbors of the city and state owned portion of Udalls Cove at Virginia Point said they fear development near the deep-wooded ravine will ultimately spread to other parts of the park.
“Everything is connected, like in nature,” said resident Chris DeGeorge. “Once one property is developed, it’s like Pandora’s box. I don’t want it to have a cascading effect.”
Mugdan and CB 11 sent letters to the mayor, calling for the city to buy five of the last remaining privately owned 15 parcels. The five connected lots total to about 1.4 acres.
“It just makes sense that we go out there and try to buy this property before a developer goes out there and puts houses on it,” Iannece said.
More than 80 percent of the ravine’s 14.25 acres has already been bought and saved from development since the 1980s, according to the groups.
Several acres were almost developed into 18 houses in 2004, Mugdan said, until the city bought and put the land into its Udalls Cove Wildlife Preserve.
The city’s Parks Department, which manages the preserve, said it wants to work with the community and its elected officials to complete the purchase of the rest of the property.
“Strengthening Udall’s Cove Park is a priority for the administration and we are exploring every possible means of preserving these parcels,” a department spokesperson said.
Supporters said Udalls Cove Park should remain a “unique” part of the borough.
“That separates us,” said DeGeorge, who likes to kayak in his backyard salt marshes. “When I have people over, they never believe this is Queens.”
The property owner did not return calls for comment as of press time.
“You need to preserve all of it to keep it in its pristine condition,” Iannece said, “and let nature do what nature does best.”