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July 24, 2013

Transform Mess To Meadow


Ira Barocas has been "hectoring" the town for the last four years, he said from the podium. Last Thursday night the East Hampton Town Board held a public hearing on the final draft of the Babe's Lane Preserve Management Plan, a plan Barocas has been "haunting" town officials to adopt, he said.

In fact, with the plan's adoption, the preserve will be the first participant in the town's Adopt-a-Preserve program. With necessary permits from the state department of environmental conservation in hand, town officials may remove invasive species that have overgrown the preserve, which is located off Squaw Road in Springs.

Then, Barocas said, the "re-scaping" of the preserve will transform it from the "overgrown mess" it now is back to the historic meadow it once was. Under the supervision of town experts, residents along Babe's Lane and members of the Duck Creek Farm Association will take on the responsibility of revegetating the land with native species and regular maintenance to keep phragmites incursion at bay.

Speaking at the hearing, Barocas offered a historic discussion of the preserve, which was part of the original Duck Creek Farm, a 200-acre parcel that stretched from Three Mile Harbor Road to the water. A natural maritime meadow and wetland, Duck Creek Farm was owned and used as pasturage by John Edwards and his descendants from 1795 on.

Rachel Levinson told the board that her family bought property on Squaw Road near Babe's Lane over 30 years ago. Back then, she said, "Our view was spectacular." Now, thanks to overgrown invasive species, "I see nothing," she said. "Invasive vegetation came to visit us and stayed."

Chris Groen, a Babe's Lane resident since 1951, said the management plan wouldn't just benefit residents of the lane. The community at large considered the area a favored place to walk and view the boats and action in the harbor, until the last several years when overgrown phragmites and bittersweet blocked the water view.

Barocas expressed gratitude to Councilwoman Theresa Quigley for helping the shepherd the plan along. She called the Adopt-a-Preserve program "a phenomenal idea." The public/private partnership is an example of good teamwork, she said, adding, "I expect it to be a success."

kmerrill@indyeastend.com

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