Baxter’s Pond, a quiet oasis located across from Manhasset Bay along Shore Road, provides Port Washington residents with a walking trail, numerous benches for relaxation and, of course, a spot to hold the annual Model Boat Regatta during HarborFest. On the eastern side of the pond is a sediment basin designed to collect sediment and garbage and prevent it from flowing into either the pond or Manhasset Bay. Because that basin had become full-to-capacity with debris, during the week of June 22, the Nassau County Department of Public Works conducted a cleanout of the sediment basin to ensure that pollutants do not enter Baxter’s Pond or Manhasset Bay.
In 2002, the county completed construction of a renovation project at Baxter’s Pond, including dredging, stream restoration and the construction of a sedimentation basin designed to trap sediment, organic debris (leaf litter), and floatable debris (bottles, cans), said Brian Schneider, assistant to Deputy Commissioner of Public Works for Administration in Nassau County. Periodically, the basin needs to be dewatered and cleaned of its load of debris in order to best protect Baxter’s Pond and Manhasset Bay, Schneider said. There is no set schedule for cleaning it, as it really is based on the frequency and intensity of storm events, Schneider added. “We believe it should be cleaned every two or three years,” he said.
Nancy Comer, the president of Baxter’s Pond Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with the county and Village of Baxter Estates to care for Baxter’s Pond and the surrounding Barbara Johnson Park and Preserve, said that the purpose of the sediment basin is to stop debris, ranging from fertilizer to soccer balls and cans, from entering the pond. In fact, the Baxter’s Pond Foundation website calls Baxter’s Pond, “the prettiest drain in the county.” The park is one of several county properties originally designed for drainage purposes and later turned into public parks. The sediment basin intercepts road sediments, natural debris like leaves and branches, and human litter before it reaches the pond and Manhasset Bay. This includes storm water runoff from throughout Port Washington, which makes its way down to the pond.
Last winter, members of Baxter’s Pond Foundation met with representatives of the Nassau County Department of Public Works to discuss needed work at Baxter’s Pond. The last time the basin had been dredged was five years ago, said Comer, and it was filled with things from flip flops to bottles of orange juice. The county agreed to dredge the pond, and the work was done “remarkably fast,” in just one week, beginning on June 22, Comer stated. The method used included dewatering the basin using a movable dam and bypass, and pumping the water from the brook to the pond. This allowed the basin to dry, permitting workers and equipment to access the basin and remove the pollutants. Nassau County’s Schneider said that over 700 cubic yards of sediment and debris were removed. “If this basin was not there, this material would have ended up in the pond and the bay,” he stated.
The county performs other work at Baxter’s Pond as well, including routine maintenance and repairs as necessary, Schneider said.