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Successful First Annual Meeting Held Sunday 1/31/2010

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Just over 50 people attended the First Annual Meeting of the Buckingham Pond Conservancy on Sunday, January 31, 2010. It was a great meeting full of enthusiasm and ideas! If you missed the meeting, here are the highlights:

  • We reviewed our accomplishments todate. From organizing cleanups, to developing relationships with City departments, to facilitating improvements to the park, we should all be very proud of the accomplishments of the Steering Committee over the past year. You can find a full list here: 2010-1-31-accomplishments2009
  • We passed the Conservancy's first bylaws, available here: bpcbylawsasadopted1-31-2010
  • We elected a slate of officers and directors. Read more about this group here: Proposed Slate
  • We met in small groups to discuss next steps for each of the Conservancy's working groups on:
    1. Membership & Outreach
    2. Water Quality & Pond Ecology
    3. Public Safety & Public Spaces and
    4. History and Research.

    Ideas developed in these groups are available here:

These four groups will be meeting on an ongoing basis to continue the Conservancy's efforts to polish this jewel we call Buckingham Pond. If you are interested in participating in any of these groups, please reach out to so we can get you connected. We need people who are willing to do just one small task every now and then as well as people who can make a more significant time commitment, so please let us know what you can do to help.

Pond Pictures on All Over Albany

The Annual Meeting on Sunday was terrific - more than 50 neighbors turned out and we generated a lot of ideas for 2010.

I'll be posting the meeting notes shortly, but thought everyone would like to see that photos of our own pond were featured on All Over Albany.

Here's the link:

Proposed Slate Announced

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The volunteer Steering Committee of the Buckingham Pond Conservancy appointed Mark Yolles and Sylvia Pirani as the nominating committee to identify a slate of officers to propose for election at the first annual meeting to be held Sunday 1/31 at 2:00 PM at the Bethany Reformed Church. Please read more about the meeting below or here and join us on Sunday.

The nominating committee has presented the following slate:

President: Anne Savage
Anne is one of the founding members of the Buckingham Pond Conservancy. She lives just two blocks from the pond on Lenox Avenue and can often be found at the pond skiing, skating, walking or at the playground with her daughter. Anne brings her skills as a meeting facilitator, community planner and web developer to her work at the Conservancy.

Vice President: Harry Ermides
Harry is very interested in all aspects of “pond” life as he has lived on Berkshire Blvd, watching its evolution from directly in front of the pond for 35 years. He is currently retired and a member of the BPC Steering Committee, board of directors of St. Sophia Church (Whitehall Rd), and President of Graceland Cemetery Board of Directors, having served since 2001.

Secretary: Mark Bechard
Mark resides at 63 Lenox Avenue. He has been a resident of the neighborhood since 1999. Previously he lived on Milner Avenue at Buckingham Drive for 10 years. Mark has been an Albany resident since 1978 and has been active in the Conservancy for the past year.

Treasurer: Paula Martinez
Paula has lived in the Buckingham Pond area for the past 10 years with her husband Dave, her cat Katmandu and her dog Molly. She has served as a BPC Steering Committee member for the past year.

At Large Members:

Eileen Gerrish: Eileen has lived on Berkshire Blvd. for four years. She is active with pond cleanups and a member of the BPC Steering Committee. Eileen is a member of the Albany Kiwanis Club and the state director of the Law, Youth and Citizenship Program of the New York State Bar Association.

Felton McLaughlin: Felton lives next to the pond on Lenox Avenue. He is a commercial realtor with NAI Platform, Director of the Albany Business Roundtable, and a Board Member of the St. Catherine of Siena School. Since turtles lay their eggs in his front lawn every spring, Felton and his family have a particular interest in preserving the pond and its wildlife.

Marsha Nadell Penrose: Marsha is a native of Albany and grew up in the Raft's Pond/Buckingham Lake neighborhood. She is a founding member of the Buckingham Lake/Crestwood Neighborhood Association and has been on the steering committee of the Buckingham Pond Conservancy since its inception. She is the Executive Director of The Next Step, Inc. a long term intensive residential treatment program for chemically dependent women and a breeder of champion Norfolk Terriers.

First Annual Meeting Set for Sunday 1/31

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Please join the Buckingham Pond Conservancy Steering Committee for the First Annual Meeting of the Conservancy on Sunday 1/31/2010 at 2:00 PM at the Bethany Reformed Church on New Scotland Avenue at Lenox Avenue. The Buckingham Pond Conservancy is a non-partisan group, founded in January 2009, devoted to protecting, preserving, and enhancing Buckingham Pond and its surrounding green space. At the meeting, the Steering Committee will provide an update on the Conservancy’s activities and ask for your help in setting priorities for next year including adopting bylaws and electing a board of directors. If you would like to become a charter member of the Conservancy, please bring your $5 annual membership dues with you to the meeting. Everyone is welcome at the meeting, but only members will be eligible to vote. The bylaws are available for review here: bpcbylawsdraftfor1-31-2010, and at the circulation desk of the Pine Hills Branch of the Albany Public Library starting Friday January 22, 2010. The annual meeting will also mark the kick off of four Working Groups for the conservancy:

  • Water Quality and Pond Ecology Working Group to address water flow, water quality, water testing, erosion, runoff issues, neighborhood education, runoff abatement, species protection, invasive plant/animal issues, educational outreach to all constituents of the park, interface with appropriate governmental entities, address usage and over-usage issues.
  • Public Spaces and Safety Working Group to maintain the green space of the area in accordance with the BPC goals. Includes traffic issues in roads immediately adjacent to the pond, playground issues, walkway safety and enhancements, litter, washout issues, lighting, interface with appropriate governmental entities.
  • History and Research Working Group maintain written records and repository of pond history, research, advocacy groups, BPC Steering Committee and BPC Committee, presentations and findings of governmental agencies vis a vis the pond and surrounds. Verify, archive and establish a repository of all written, spoken and filmed items pertaining to Buckingham Pond. To include any applications, grants, donations, etc. Will also establish organizational records of the newly formed BPC, including compliance with non-profit reporting and recordkeeping.
  • Outreach and Membership Working Group Build, expand and maintain contact lists of all those interested in the pond, its surrounds and the BPC. Keep records of BPC member status/standing. Help promote BPC efforts through media contacts and governmental relations. Work with other committees in educational outreach and grant proposals. Build public awareness of the BPC and its goals and successes. Establish partnerships with other like-minded organizations and agencies

Please join us – the Conservancy has done a tremendous amount in one short year. We look forward to sharing our progress with you and working together to make this special part of Albany everything it can be! If you can't come, but would like to participate, let us know at

Pictures from November Clean Up

Here are a few "Pond Preservation Day" pictures from Sunday 11/1. About 20 neighborhood volunteers and a troop of Girl Scouts planted several daffodil and wildflower beds near the playground and removed most of the purple loosestrife (an aggressive invasive species) from the east end of the pond. While I'm sure we'll see some purple loosestrife next year, hopefully we made a good dent in it. In any case, we had beautiful weather and the work was fun and rewarding!

Many many thanks to the City of Albany and City Gardener Judy Stacey for providing materials and guidance!

Planting Crew
Hardworking Girl Scouts
Mark & Rachel

Save the date for 1/31/2010 & Skating update

The Steering Committee of the Buckingham Pond Conservancy is pleased to announce the date for the official "First Annual Meeting." Please mark Sunday 1/31/2010 at 2:00 PM on your calendar. We'll meet at the Bethany Reformed Church on New Scotland Avenue at Lenox Avenue. This should be a significant event in the history of the Pond. See you there! More information about the meeting will be coming soon. We need to get the word out about the meeting to those not yet on our email list. Could you help us distribute fliers the weekend of 1/23 & 24? Even if you could do only a block or two it would help. If you can help, please email Mark Yolles at Finally, you may have been wondering, as I had, if it was safe to skate at the pond yet this year. The answer is unfortunately "not yet". We have confirmed that the City's Recreation Department is checking the ice frequently and will post "safe to skate" signs as soon possible. Until then, please keep off the ice!

Buckingham Pond Preservation Day - Sunday, Nov. 1st 1:00

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Please join us for an afternoon of planting bulbs & removing invasive plants! Come any time, even a half an hour of your time will help make a difference for the pond! Please pass the word. Everyone is welcome. When: Sunday, Nov 1st 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. - come any time Where: Assemble at the playground area What: Join a group to:

  • plant daffodil bulbs and wildflowers
  • pull up or cut down invasive species threatening our pond including: purple loosestrife, Phragmites & Asian Bittersweet

Bring: The City of Albany will provide some tools, but please bring these if you can.

  • clippers, small or long handles
  • shovels with sharp edge for digging roots
  • hoes, rakes, etc.

Who: Anyone interested in protecting and enhancing the pond and the land around it and willing to join with neighbors in this project Sponsors: Buckingham Pond Conservancy and the City of Albany Poster.  Planting Bulbs & Removing Invasive Species.  Sunday November 1st 1:00 - 4:30 PM.  Contact

Buckingham Conservancy Update - Summer 2009

Since our last report, the Buckingham Conservancy Steering Committee has been very busy gathering information, meeting with City officials, and formulating plans for the Conservancy’s governance and mission statement. While this may not seem to be a whole lot, the process has been slowed a bit by the fact that not one but several City departments and agencies are responsible for the various aspects of Buckingham Pond’s management, health, and daily life. A draft mission statement and by-laws have been prepared and will be reviewed and hopefully finalized at the committee’s next meeting at the end of July. Once these are final we plan to bring them to the general membership for approval and formal election of officers this Fall once people are back from their summer vacations. Most recently Paula Martinez, a member of the steering committee, planted flowers supplied by the City Gardener in the containers along the path. Thanks Paula!

Meeting with DGS On June 8th, members of the steering committee met with Dan DiLillo, Asst. Commissioner of DGS and Tom Kelley, DGS. The meeting agenda involved specific topics surrounding the history and background of Buckingham Pond. Managing Algae Control/Copper sulfate/Sonar Application, testing and ensuring water quality, installing and maintaining fountains, installing and maintaining fences, stocking fish, maintaining the siltation basin, enhancing and protecting wildlife, adding new trees and other plantings, addressing erosion of the path, pond banks, parking lot, modifying traffic patterns, adding sidewalks, modifying traffic signage, maintaining and enhancing the playground, maintaining the pond and park in the winter - especially for skating, emptying trash cans, enforcing pooper scooper laws, and removing graffiti/addressing vandalism. If that sounds like a lot it is. Unfortunately, as a reinforcement of an earlier statement made in this update, not all of these items could be addressed by either Dan or Tom. However, these gentlemen were totally committed and extremely helpful in answering many of our concerns. They have already acted on items within their departments. For example, you may have noticed an attempt to reduce erosion at the parking lot by installing a new drain, and improvements to the path at the foot of Euclid coming down from New Scotland.

Meeting with the Water Department The most recent Steering Committee meeting was held July 13, 2009. John Kosa, Assistant Water Commissioner, Dan Hershberg, Consulting Engineer and Justin Schievelbein, responsible for Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer Systems were in attendance to answer questions about the Water Department’s role in maintaining the pond. The committee was treated to a very informative presentation by Dan Hershberg, Consulting Engineer for the City of Albany. Many previous and ongoing questions were addressed by Dan, John, and Justin at this meeting. The presentation can be accessed at and includes interesting historical maps and photos of the pond. (It's a large file so it will take a minute to open or download.) In summary, Dan Hershberg reported that Buckingham Lake provides storage for storm water management. Buckingham Lake is a naturally shallow man-made water body, and the Lake was last dredged in 1977-78. In order to reduce sewer backups in several neighborhoods in Albany, the Water Department created the “Stilling Pond” west of the main pond in 1993/1994. Water from the “Stilling Pond” is pumped out of the basin to a drain along I85 and eventually into the Krumkill. The main pond itself no longer drains out through the city’s sewer system as the sewer connection on the East end now only allows water out of the pond in extreme flood situations. The water collected in the “Stilling Pond” at the West side of the pond (street runoff and storm sewer water) can and does flow into the Pond when the I85 route is over capacity. This adds to the “algae bloom” and other consequences resulting from poor water quality in the Pond.

Next Steps In addition to the critical organizational work (mission statement, bylaws, officers etc.), the Steering Committee plans to focus efforts on the water quality and ecology of Buckingham Pond. This issue is impacted by many of the actions taken as a result of the Storm Management Plan, specifically the Berkshire Boulevard Separation project conducted 1993-1995. The steering committee has asked the Water Dept. representatives to assist us in gathering or implementing a testing system to measure the water quality at the pond periodically. We are also seeking expert advice on the subject of water quality and how to manage it in light of the details surrounding the sewer separation project. If you are, or know, an expert on pond ecology who might be helpful to this effort, please have them get in touch with us as At the same time, we now know that there are no less than six city and State departments that we will need to stay in close contact with in order to achieve the many goals of the original meeting held in January.

We will attempt to keep everyone updated through the website when there is something to report. One of the roles of the BPC will certainly be to share information and ideas between neighbors and city Departments. So please feel free to make suggestions either on the website or email The Steering Committee will be meeting again at the end of July in order to stay focused on all of these issues. [Remarks prepared by Harry Ermides & Anne Savage]

The Sidewalk is Coming

Back in March, we learned that the City had requested State funds to enhance the sidewalks on Euclid Ave on the South (New Scotland) side of the pond. I've now learned that the State has funded that request! The City has completed a design for the project and put it out to bid. Bill LeCuyer in the City's engineering office provided the design so I could send it out to the Buckingham Pond Conservancy. Click here to see the design. As you can see, the sidewalk will be extended along the east side of Euclid down to Berkshire and continue around the corner. There will be a striped crosswalk across Berkshire to the existing opening to the path. As part of the project, the City will narrow the intersection slightly, making a tighter turn from Euclid on to Berkshire. I understand that Bill has spoken to the people who own the properties where the new sidewalk will go, and has made some adjustments to the design to ensure that a large tree would not be impacted. It seems to me that this will be safer for everyone - drivers, cyclists and pedestrians! I do think it would be helpful to have some "yield to pedestrian in crosswalk" signs. Bill has forwarded that request to the City's Traffic Engineering department, and I'll be following up with them. This work has been put out to bid, with bids expected back on June 6 and work to be done this summer. Please comment to let us know what you think. - Anne

Successful Cleanup Day

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We were a Clean Machine on Saturday, April 18, as over 50 neighbors came together to de-trash the Buckingham Pond area. The Buckingham Pond Conservancy wishes to thank each and every helper -- from toddlers to retirees -- everyone pitched in. We hope to have a fall event, this time on a Sunday, which will include a quick cleanup and a celebration. Let's keep the momentum going -- every time you visit the pond, try and take one item of trash away. Thanks again to everyone who helped.

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