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Munsey Park pond to get makeover

Munsey Park resident Erin Cunningham sits on a

Munsey Park resident Erin Cunningham sits on a bench alongside Copley Pond in Munsey Park with her daughter, Grace, 4, and son, Finnian, 1, on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Cunningham is spearheading a campaign to restore the aging Copley Pond park in Munsey Park. Credit: Brad Penner

Copley Pond, once the site of annual Memorial Day picnics and other Munsey Park get-togethers, is showing age -- and some village residents have decided it's time to give it a face-lift.

Village resident Erin Cunningham said she got the idea to help restore the pond and its surrounding park after repeatedly running her child's stroller into ruts along the asphalt path that rings the man-made pond.

"It's really hard to even walk over it, never mind push a stroller or hold your little kid's hand," said Cunningham, a board member of the Munsey Park Women's Club.

She said she started thinking about restoring the area after she moved to the village about three years ago.

Construction is expected to begin this spring and likely be finished by the summer, Cunningham said.

The pond -- originally part of the Munsey Park Golf Club in the 1930s -- is used by skaters and hockey players in the winter and by walkers who pick their way along the crumbling path for evening constitutionals.

Cunningham's vision as chairwoman of the project is to create a new path set back from the water, add features such as a seating area honoring the families who donated to the restoration, and a place for youngsters to safely feed birds that settle in the water in warmer weather.

"They don't go around and use this beautiful space," Cunningham, a stay-at-home mom and former teacher, said of residents. "The elderly folks in the neighborhood, they can't walk around it because it's so difficult."

It's also one of the few public spaces in the village of about 2,700 residents, making the need to restore it even more important, said Deputy Mayor Sean Haggerty.

"You want it to be used," Haggerty said. "There's a social aspect of getting this pond back together where people are up there and the kids are using it."

So far, the village, which is working with the women's club on the effort, has secured $80,000 in grants for the work. Haggerty said he worked with Nassau County Legis. Rich Nicolello, who now represents the area after redistricting, to re-secure a $30,000 county grant the village was awarded in 2009 for work at the pond.

Nicolello said the village has to spend the money for the revitalization, then get reimbursed by the county.

The other $50,000 comes from a grant State Sen. Jack Martins secured for the project, Haggerty said.

The rest of the money -- and Cunningham would not put a price tag on the total renovation -- will come from private donations, she said. Families will have the option to buy a paving brick or plants for the new landscaping or benches for a new seating area.

Jim McGivney, who has lived next to Copley Pond for 30 years, said he looks forward to the upgrades, especially after the beating the park took from superstorm Sandy. "It'll always be a quiet refuge for people," McGivney said. "It's going to be beautiful."

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