The Baxter's Pond Foundation's mission is simple: To beautify and maintain the environmental integrity
of the landscape surrounding Baxter's Pond, located within the Village of Baxter Estates,
in Port Washington, New York.


Simple the mission may be, but accomplishing it is not easy. Years of neglect by financially-strapped Nassau County, which owns Baxter’s Pond and the surrounding Barbara Johnson Park & Preserve, turned it into an unsightly weed patch. Barbara Johnson, the late Nassau County Legislator for whom the park is now named, halted its slide into decay with an infusion of county funds for a mammoth restoration project. Completed in 2001, this featured the latest in environmentally sound techniques, including a state-of-the-art sedimentation basin, permeable walkways and all-native plantings.

But by 2003, as the county’s budget dwindled even more, the wasteland threatened to return. Because the park is a county-owned property, the Village of Baxter Estates is constrained by law from expending tax-payers’ funds on its maintenance, so concerned residents founded the Baxter’s Pond Foundation (BPF), which works in partnership with the county and the Village to care for the park.

The Foundation seeks contributions and gifts from businesses and individuals, pursues grants, and otherwise raises funds.




Where your money goes
The BPF created and maintains the gardens along Shore Road, the four stone entrance pillars to the Village, and the newer garden alongside the bridge near Hillside Avenue. We’ve installed an in-ground sprinkler system for the Shore Road garden; planted a number of flowering trees and shrubs; as well as seeded and sodded the "devil strip" along Central Drive.

We’ve engaged a landscaper, who helped design the gardens and now maintains them and the grassy areas—from the sedimentation basin near Central Drive and Hillside Avenue to Shore Road—seeding, mowing and weeding, keeping paths clean, planting and pruning shrubs, handling minor storm litter removal and similar upkeep.

Nassau County's role

As BPF was established, so was a partnership with the Nassau County Parks and Recreation Department. One of 30+ parks managed by Nassau County, the five-acre Baxter's Pond and Preserve is a "passive" park and, therefore, doesn't warrant full-time staffing from the county. (A passive park is a public area designated as a park, but does not have facilities or equipment for exercise or play, i.e. a nature park or greenspace. It can have benches or trails, but is not conducive for "active" use such as sport or play.) The county is responsible for the heavy lifting: dredging and skimming the sedimentation basin; emptying garbage cans; tree pruning; snow removal and clearing debris from the sidewalks; infrastructure repair; upkeep of the wooded preserve and of the split rail fence. It is responsible for the pond itself, including planting and maintenance of environmentally friendly water plants; water sampling; and repair of major storm damage.

Programs

The Foundation’s maintenance and beautification projects are ongoing, allowing the park to host a number of community activities. Because of its close proximity to the Port Washington Public Library, the pond and its wooded habitats are used by library walking groups and birders. Numerous school nature expeditions, as well as other outdoor education and bird-watching programs, are frequent visitors. For a number of years, Baxter's Pond has been the site for Port Washington's HarborFest model boat regatta, when the Mill Pond, the regatta's original venue, has been overgrown with algae. Third-graders throughout the school district create and race their boats across our tiny pond.


Environmental conservation
"The prettiest drain in the county." That's a direct quote from a county employee. Our park is one of several county properties that were originally designed for drainage purposes and were later turned into public parks. The sedimentation basin/aka catch basin/aka the drain, located on the east side of  the bridge, is the key to intercepting road sediments, natural debris like leaves and branches, and human littler before they reach the pond and Manhasset Bay. This includes storm water runoff from throughout Port Washington, which makes its way down to our pond.

During the park's restoration twelve years ago, the sides of the stream (which runs through the woods along Central Drive) were landscaped to create wetlands, which also serve as a flood relief zone, since even modest rains overrun the banks of the stream. Native grasses, plants and shrubs that were planted were selected to stabilize the area, and for their ability to absorb toxins and excess nutrients from fertilizers, particularly in the flood plains. The selections were also made to promote wildlife habitat and to create an attractive and inviting sanctuary; and the area is home to many local and migrating birds. Failure to clean and maintain the basin in the past caused the pond to become clogged with sediment and fill in.

We are committed to environmentally sound practices as well as beautification. To this end, upgrades and improvements to the design and functionality of the sedimentation basin are essential, and we have moved this project to the top of our list of priorities.




Board of Directors

Nancy Axelrad Comer, President and Treasurer
Ed Athanasian, Director
Nancy Baldwin, Treasurer, Director and Chair, Fundraising Committee
Avery Fuchs, Director
Steven Howley, Director

Emeriti

Carolyn Mandel, Founding Co-Chair
Jake Eisenman, Founding Director

Executive Administrator
Holly Byrne