From the Queens Chronicle:
Alley Pond Environmental Center is about to get a $7 million makeover.
The popular nature center at 228-06 Northern Blvd. in Douglaston has been bursting at the seams for years, but there is little room to expand because of the adjacent park and marshes. “You can’t double the footprint without encroaching into the park,” said Irene Scheid, APEC executive director. “We can’t go to two floors because we would need an expensive elevator and because of the marshland,” which couldn’t take the extra weight.
Instead the city, which operates the nature center, has decided to install six modular units that will be connected to the existing building via a walkway. The APEC facility — which originated as an outdoor furniture store — will be gutted, redesigned and have a new floor and walls installed.
“We will make it as green as possible,” Scheid said. “We hope the work will start next August.”
More than $5.5 million has been allocated by area elected officials including state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), Borough President Helen Marshall, Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck), Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and the entire Queens City Council delegation. The rest has come from a three-year fundraising effort.
The reason why the project is costing so much money is due to the marshlands. The city has to put out a contract for soil tests and borings for the modular units, according to Scheid, and that it’s currently “in a holding pattern.”
The city wants to ensure that the modulars don’t sink and are firmly grounded before their installation. Scheid said the units will add 5,000 square feet of additional space.