Plandome Pond Park, considered a "treasure," but also called stagnant and plagued by sediment buildup and algae, is set for major upgrades as the Town of North Hempstead seeks to revitalize the pond and its ecosystem.
The town plans to remove about 500 cubic yards of sediment from the pond in the park at a cost of $330,000.
Plandome Pond Park, which includes the pond, a walking path and a picnic area, is tucked amid homes. It has been the subject of revitalization talks for years.
"The pond kept on getting worse and worse, it was stagnant, it was very unsightly," said Marion Endrizzi, the former Plandome Heights village mayor and president of the Plandome Heights Civic Association. Endrizzi said the pond has trouble flowing into a neighboring stream, affecting flow for other bodies of water.
Kenneth Riscica, the current mayor of Plandome Heights, which abuts the pond, said residents have served as pond "stewards," urging Nassau County and now the town to make it healthy. The town took over the park from the county.
"Everyone always called it a little treasure because it's so beautiful and we are slowly on the way to restoring it," Endrizzi said.
Riscica said the pond's algae has attracted mosquitoes and "brings a bit of an odor.
"It really has marred the beauty of the pond," he said.
The town board unanimously authorized bonding for the Plandome Pond Park project in March. Dina De Giorgio, the councilwoman who represents the area, said she anticipates the "community will make more use out of it" after dredging is finished.
Paul DiMaria, town commissioner of public works, said the town hopes to deepen the pond. An engineering report in January said buildup of organic sediment has reduced the depth, which has affected water quality. The report said the sediment contained several pollutants, including nickel.
Removing sediment can improve the water's quality and expose the pond's original sandy bottom, the habitat for plants and animals, town officials said, noting the sediment could be disposed of at any Long Island landfill.
The town plans to seek permits from the State Department of Environmental Conservation and also the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the work. Eventually, the town will request bids for a company to dredge the pond.
Endrizzi, who has lived in Plandome Heights for 40 years, said, "It will be a clear pond -- that's what I'm hoping for."
Community leaders hope beautification efforts will draw more visitors to the town. Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth has sought in her first few months in office to encourage residents and visitors to use town parks and she recently lobbied federal officials to pay for sand removal in Hempstead Harbor with an eye toward wooing more visitors and rowers to the waterfront.
Bosworth said she also wants to restore other ponds in the town, including in Whitney Pond Park and in Roslyn.
Plandome Pond Park "is kind of like a little Zen area in the middle of a very bustling area," Bosworth said. "We can't have enough green space and passive and active parks -- and places to have an opportunity to get away from it all."