An egret stalks a meal in what is left of Wolfe's Pond. The seaside pond is now a giant pit of mud after the fresh water was replaced with sea water when the berm separating the pond from the sea was destroyed during the visit by Hurricane Irene. Neighbors and visitors want a quick and sustainable fix to restore their beloved pond. (Photo: Deborah Young/Staten Island Advance)
As city, state and federal agencies scramble to decide how to bring back Wolfe’s Pond to what is now a gaping pit of ochre-colored mud, neighbors and visitors say the fix to the Prince’s Bay site cannot come quickly enough, according to The Staten Island Advance.
In one of the eeriest legacies of Irene, the 16-acre pond simply vanished into the raging sea when the strong tide broke through the sand berm designed to keep it intact.
It was the second time in as many decades the pond disappeared as a result of extreme weather.
“This is a big-time disappointment; it’s the perfect, ‘I told you so.’ They knew it was coming and they had done nothing about it all those years,” said Arthur Dennis, who noted that the mosquito population has exploded in the weeks since Irene, with bugs breeding in the shallow pools of muddy sludge. “It’s horrible, and when it’s hot, you get a bad smell.”
RESTORE JETTIES, ADD SPILLWAY
Dennis, who has lived in the area for more than 50 years, said he and others are calling for the restoration of jetties and an additional spillway as part of the plan to remake the area.
“The jetty goes; the beach goes; the pond goes,” he said. The city Parks Department is responsible for the pond and adjoining park and beach. But the waterway is part of Staten Island’s Bluebelt system, and, as such, also under the auspices of the city Department of Environmental Protection.
Meanwhile Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money is expected to be used toward repairs, and the Army Corps of Engineers may weigh in on the work.
“This is nothing short of an environmental disaster, and all agencies are working very well together to devise a plan for the pond to be able to be brought back,” said City Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore), who will be meeting with the Parks Department today.
“They are working collaboratively to come up with a short-term solution and looking at what to do in the long term to prevent this kind of weather erosion.”
The berm, constructed in 1920, was destroyed by the nor’easter of 1992.
Sandbags and other temporary measures kept the water from flowing out to sea for several months after the initial assault, but the battered site could not take the beatings from subsequent blizzards, thaws and high tides, and the water slowly began to drain away. It took two years and $3.4 million to upgrade the surrounding area and shore up Wolfe’s Pond — only for the water to gush out in a flash with Irene.”
“We are determining the best long-term solution to address the breach,” said Tara Kiernan, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department. The process is too new to be able to give a sense of the dollars involved or the possible scope of the project, she said.
“It’s depressing, just awful,” mused Fran Cavaliere of Eltingville, who visited the pond yesterday for the first time since Irene. Ms. Cavaliere typically comes to the park a few times a month with her grandsons to watch the turtles and ducks. “It is so beautiful usually, with the trees reflecting in the water, like a painting. I really hope they can fix it.”
The question of Wolfe’s Pond will be discussed during a meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee of Community Board 3 on Monday at 7:30 p.m.
“Something will be done, there is no question about it,” said CB 3 Chairman Frank Morano. “Everybody has to bear with it. It will be fixed. We want to come up with the best plan.”
Wolfe's Pond, damaged yet again by a storm, faces a long, complex and expensive recovery
Staten Island Advance - September 13, 2011 - By Deborah E. Young