By: Hannah Devlin
On May 22, the Baxter’s Pond Foundation (BPF) hosted an event honoring former President and Co-Founder Nancy Comer. As a long-time gardener herself, Comer saw the need for the foundation and helped that vision come to life.
As the foundation’s co-founder, Comer played an integral role in its creation, and as its president, she was an important figure in its execution. Comer served as a president for 18 years before stepping down from the role this past January. On Jan. 1, Kim and John Keiserman took over her role, acting as the current co-presidents of the foundation. Although Comer no longer serves as BPF’s president, she still plays an active role in the foundation as a board member.
The event was hosted by Chris and Laura Ficalora, long-time supporters of the foundation, at their home in Baxter Estates. It was attended by approximately 75 friends of the foundation, including elected officials who came to support and honor Comer’s contributions.
There were many elected officials at the event from the state, county and town level. From the state level, Senator Anna Kaplan and Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti attended. Representing Nassau County, officials included Deputy Commissioner of Nassau County Parks, Recreation and Museums Dave Franklin (attending on behalf of Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman) and County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton. Additionally, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena and Town Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte attended alongside Village of Baxter Estates Mayor Nora Haagenson, Village of Baxter Estates Deputy Mayor Charles Comer and Village of Baxter Estates Board of Trustee members Alice Peckelis, Maria Branco and Jeffrey Eluto.
“From our perspective,” said John Keiserman, “one of the things that made us proudest in the organization, and what impressed us the most, was how many of those elected officials that did show up.”
Not only did the officials attend the event, but they presented a multitude of honors and citations to Comer at both a state and local level. Kaplan presented a NY State Senate Proclamation, Sillitti presented a NY State Assembly Citation and Franklin (on behalf of Blakeman) and DeRiggi-Whitton both presented a Nassau County Citation. Additionally, DeRiggi-Whitton announced a pending resolution before Nassau County Legislature to rename the cottage in Baxter Estate’s Barbara Johnson Park to the “Nancy Comer Cottage.” DeSena presented a proclamation that Sunday, May 22, 2022 be declared as a special day of recognition for Comer throughout the Town of North Hempstead. Lastly, Haagenson presented a certificate of recognition on behalf of the Village of Baxter Estates.
One of the many contributions Comer made to the foundation was the implementation of a “shorescaping project.” This project has attracted the attention of many, as it has recently received a grant from Nassau County to allow its continuation.
Shorescaping aims to combat water pollution, and aid local species, with the installation of native plants. Not only would these plants support pollinators and other natural life, but they would also serve to catch debris, litter and chemical waste in Baxter’s Pond before it has the chance to feed into the Long Island Sound. In addition to planting native plants, the foundation hopes to remove invasive plant species.
According to John Keiserman, the BPF will use “plants that are going to take well to the environment without a lot of excess artificial watering or fertilizing, that are going to provide a habitat for natural insects and bird life and that are going to help prevent soil erosion around the edge of the pond.”
The project, one which Comer has spearheaded, will help the environmental health of the pond and its surrounding area. The BPF is dedicated to maintaining and beautifying the area in order to serve and engage with the community at large.
In addition to honoring Comer, the event on May 22 held a silent auction to fundraise.
“What the foundation does is raise money so that we can perform certain tasks that would not necessarily get done if the county–the owner of the property–was the only one maintaining it,” said John Keiserman. The BPF continues to advocate for the environmental health and beautification of the area with the support of the community.
Although Comer has stepped down as president of the BPF, her work with the foundation is not finished. She continues to serve an active role in the organization on the Board of Directors. Comer is an asset to both the foundation and the community, and the BPF–alongside state, county, town and village officials–honors her contributions.
Anyone interested in donating or volunteering with the Baxter’s Pond Foundation can find information for how to do so on their website, https://baxterspond.org