I love Fall. I love the cooler weather, the autumn foliage, pumpkins and Indian corn. To me, it’s not a season of death, but of new purpose. After a hot summer, everyone seems renewed in the fall, ready to start Big Things. We open new seasons at the theater, the opera, on television; it’s an exciting time of year, culminating in the holidays. January and February, well, that’s another story. But we’re not there yet, it’s still the middle of Fall, and that means peak leaf changing season. And what better place to see nature’s amazing palate of colors than in a park? In this case, Queens’ second largest park?
Ally Pond Park borders Douglaston on the east and Bayside on the west. Little Neck Bay stretches gloriously to the north, and Union Turnpike cuts the park off on the south. This part of Queens sits on a terminal moraine formed by the Laurentide glacier thousands of years ago. The ice deposited boulders and dug creeks and ponds. Today, the park encompasses fresh water ponds and natural springs, as well as salt marshes from Little Neck Bay, forming a very diverse biosphere, one of the great highlights of the park. (more…)
Oakland Lake, at 46th Avenue and Cloverdale Boulevard, is the largest of a number of small “kettle ponds” left over from the passage of a glacier that stopped its southern progress in the middle of Long Island 15,000 years ago. According to the NYC Parks Department, it was once thought to be fully 600 feet deep, but the lake bottom was found to be just 20 feet in 1969. Similar to what was done with Kissena Lake, Oakland Lake was surrounded with a concrete lining and “citified” in the 1930s. After lean years in which the lake’s condition deteriorated, a revitalization effort was spearheaded by local resident Gertrude Waldeyer, whose Oakland Lake and Ravine Conservation Committee raised $1,000,000 to restore the lake to its natural state. It is now home to catfish, sunfish and carp. Oakland Lake has taken its place, along with other Alley Pond lakes such as Potamogeton Pond, Turtle Pond, Decodon Pond, Lily Pad Pond and Muskrat Pond as small glimpses of real wetland in the big city.
The Alley Pond Environmental Center is getting a brand new $9,000,000 headquarters. Queens Chronicle reports that construction should begin next year on a 10,000-square-foot, one-story building that will house a lobby, kitchen, four early childhood classrooms, three large classrooms and an outdoor learning space. The exterior will feature brick, glass and steel. The building will also have green features like a rain garden, and is expected to be LEED silver certified. This new build will go up behind the existing headquarters at 228-06 Northern Boulevard and the old building will be demolished for parking. According to the Chronicle, the APEC expects to finalize the design by spring of next year and begin construction later in 2014. Work will last two years.