The Massapequa Preserve - 423 undeveloped acres of woodlands, ponds, lakes and freshwater wet-lands that borders Massapequa Creek from South Farmingdale to Merrick Road - has forged some serious friendships over the years.
Leading the list is The Friends of Massapequa Preserve –a group of concerned citizens who work extraordinarily hard to enhance the protection, restoration and appreciation of the Preserve. Their ongoing efforts are in cooperation with Nassau County, which owns the Preserve, and the Department of Recreation and Parks which manages it.
The group is celebrating 10th anniversary this fall, but were still hard at work at their annual meeting at the Wednesday.
They've been keeping an especially close eye on the Preserve during Nassau Country' $6 million stream enhancement and pond restoration project, which is nearing completion in early 2011.
Richard Schary who formed the advocacy group with his wife Lisa ten years ago, is president of Friends of the Massapequa Preserve and provided an update on the project.
He began by trying to allay concerns about the scope of the two year-old project.
"We know how upsetting it's been for some of you to have to watch helplessly as heavy machines rip and dig their way through the Preserve, sawing down trees and bulldozing through the underbrush," he said. "Please keep in mind that your Friends organization, the County, and the construction crews are doing everything possible to limit the damage and disruption, and to make sure the Preserve is adequately remediated and beautified."
Schary said the restoration should deliver some long-awaited results. He told the members that the Preserve is cleaner, safer and healthier than it's ever been.
He also noted that the storm water treatment devices installed in the area as part of the project will filter out suspended solids, harmful nutrients and pathogens, oil, grease and heavy metals.
He said that when the project wraps up, the water will be cleaner, the streams clearer, the ponds deeper in spots and less clogged with vegetation; and, over 30,000 plants, trees and shrubs will be planted.
The Preserve is home to hundreds of species of birds, animals and plants, but many problems that still plague it are caused by its visitors.
Speakers at the meeting griped about bicyclists going way too fast on the multi-use trails, people riding ATVs and other motorized vehicles in the park.
Another problem has been dog walkers. Dogs are not permitted in the Preserve. There have been incidents of where dogs have gone in the ponds and attacked ducks, with one needing to be euthanized recently.
Schary stated that signs will be put to help stop these situations and police will start to issue summonses.
But despite the changes and ongoing issues, Schary said the overall state of the Preserve is strong.
"So far, the Preserve has gotten through all the chaos of construction and disruption in pretty good shape," he said. "As the stream project winds down, the Preserve will finally have a chance to regenerate and return to normal. That day can't come too soon for us. We've accomplished a great deal in the past ten years, and look forward to the next ten."