D U C K   P O N D

Pond Committee Study Report      

Brief Over View:   Rye Town Park gathered Community members and leaders to examine the issue of removing the wire fence that encloses the duck pond.This committee included: Chris Cohan, Jamie Jensen, Ann Moller, Kathy Savolt,Diana Paige, and Laurence Vargas.

Committee Study Approach: The committee met twice: 9/17/2018 and 10/10/2018. In addition, Jamie Jensen, Chris Cohan and Kathy Savolt walked the park separately and asked residents their thoughts. Jamie attended the October Friends of Rye Town Park Meeting to learn more about pond care and what the friends have planned for the coming year. The Town office provided budget, pictures, and historical materials that were on file. To view the committee's entire report,please click here.

The History of the Pond At Rye Town Park

A Brief Overview by Bill Lawyer - July 2013

When the Town of Rye Acquired the 62 acre Rye Town Park property in 1908, it contained a number of bungalows,semi-permanent tents, and other structures suitable for use during the summer months. There are no records of any pond existing on the property at
that time. 

The topography and underlying bedrock determined, nevertheless, that there would be a natural vernal pond and wetlands at the pond’s current location.  Rainwater flowed there from the north, west and southern directions. During heavy rains or storms, there was an outflow stream that delivered water to the sound via a small “valley” on the southeastern end of the pond. During the fall, winter and spring there was enough precipitation to support an active population of wetland flora and fauna.   Lacking a steady inflow of  “upstream” water, vernal ponds dry out in the late spring or early summer.

At some point after 1909 a formal,oval-shaped reflecting pond was created.  Historical post-card photos show this pond being in existence at least by the mid-1920’s. The proposed pond was referred to as the “Crystal Lake.”  A few years later storm drains were constructed along Forest Avenue, which directed rainwater run-off more directly to the pond.  

Photos of the pond show people walking along paths enjoying views of the water.  The lake/pond was used in winter for informal ice-skating and ice hockey. 

Because of the seasonal nature of the flow of water into the pond, however, it frequently filled up with sediment and decomposing plants and algae.  

In the 1980’s, the Rye Town Park Commission decided to “shrink” the pond to create additional space for overflow parking.  They filled in much of the pond, leaving only a small portion of the southern end, along with the waterfowl gazebo. 

Unfortunately, the outcome was that the rainwater continued to drain downhill, making the proposed parking area too damp and muddy for that use. 

And the remaining duck pond became a putrid, polluted “toilet.” The condition of the pond was one of the main reasons for the formation of the Friends of The Rye Town Park in 1991. They sought to restore and upgrade the park’s facilities and grounds, including the pond. While many improvements were made over the years, upgrading the pond was held off until enough funding was available.

Thanks to a Grant of nearly $500,000 from a New York DEC grant, along with $150,00 from private donations were raised by 2003.  The DEC funding was part of a nation-wide effort to improve water quality through the federal Clean Water Act. The DEC funding was awarded on the condition that the renovated pond be designed and created to manage the flow of rainfall through the pond and out into Long Island Sound. This included restoring the pond to its original size of about one acre, but creating two separate pond areas, intersected by a “peninsula.” Native plantings were to be established to help remove the high levels of nitrogen that was contributing to the serious decrease in the oxygen levels of the pond and Long Island Sound.    A low-wattage “bubbler” was to be installed
along the east side of the pond and a trickling waterfall on the west side to help add oxygen to the pond water. 

Work began in 2004 and was completed in 2005.  For the first few years the pond functioned well, as designed.  However, after
several hot, dry summers the water levels declined and the pond became clogged with algae and duckweed. In addition, stocking the pond with domestic ducks had greatly increased the nitrogen level of the pond, adding to the growth of algae.  And during cold winters the domestic ducks had to be rescued when the pond froze. 

Following the lead of the Central Park Conservancy, the park staff and Friends purchased higher-powered aerators to replace the bubbler, and they added a circulator to oxygenate the water on the southern part of the pond. Each fall and winter the Friends of Rye Town Park hires landscape workers to cut back the dead vegetation, to stop it from decomposing and adding to nutrient overload. Even so, on dry, hot summers algae blooms continued to cause problems.

 In 2011 the park determined that we needed a professional pond management contractor, to fine-tune the treatment within the limits of DEC regulations.  In response to an RFP, we hired the Pond Lake Connection Company. They carry out water quality testing and use a variety of biological and chemical products to reduce algae while protecting life in the pond.  Native wildlife, such as turtle’s wild waterfowl and macro invertebrates helped as well. So far the pond’s quality levels are in the acceptable to good range.


Finally, in 2015 the Friends of Rye Town Park worked with a local wild life group to find homes for the pond’s domestic ducks, leaving only the mallards,which were not dependent on the public for food.  


Rough Chronology of Pond History at Rye Town Park
Compiled by Bill Lawyer – August 2010


Pond developed from marshy area –about 1 acre (43,000 sq
ft). Used for skating in winter;

1980’s -         

Pond and fenced area reduced to 11,000 sq ft – became known
as the “Duck Pond.”

1999 -

Town of Rye submits grant application to the NY DEC to
“expand the duck pond to its original size, and thereby to expand its capacity to serve as a natural drainage and retention basis to reduce non point source pollution from the park.” 

2000 -

February, Grant Proposal denied

2001 – 

Town of Rye resubmits its proposal

2002 –

February – Grant award announced-  “$489,675 to restore Park Pond to its original size of 56,000 square feet and improve fish and wildlife habitats by planting native vegetation and using water oxygenation techniques. The goal is to reduce nitrogen levels in the pond, which flows into the Sound.”

 October – Contract for grant signed by Town of Rye

Project Management and Design:Chris Cohan – Design &
Management; Rita Wong – Design; Sven Hoeger of Creative Habitat – Plantings Design and Management.


July – Town of Rye receives executed contract; Letter from DEC stating that “the Town of Rye is permitted to initiate construction.”


February – bids received for construction and landscaping of pond project: awarded to Real Life Land Improvements (they subcontracted the fencing work);                      

May – Work begun

October – Most Work Completed

2005 – 

Final Grant Payments Received;project
completed except for DEC Required Five year monitoring.

                                                                                            Photo by @Lombardoimages & @Westchermagazine feature

L O N G   I S L A N D   S O U N D

'Access' is this case includes just enjoying views of the water as well as other activities
such as fishing, kayaking, and swimming.  The area itself does not need to be owned by the Town or the City.  It just needs a place where the public can park their cars or take public transit.  If there is a daily use fee or a parking fee that is acceptable.  It is also acceptable if it is a Town residents only facility, it will just have to be notated.  What would not be acceptable are places that have membership fee or yearly dues. Private facilities such as a private marina would not be acceptable.

This information is being used currently to understand the number and different types of areas the public can enjoy the Long Island Sound.  Future goals would be to hopefully increase the number of areas the public can access the Long Island Sound and/or increase the number of area the public can physically interact with
the water such as fishing, kayaking, or swimming. 

This information is provided and collected by the New York State DEC. (Department of Environmental Conservation)

The following Locations are Public Access Points to the Long Island Sound:

  • Marshlands Conservancy - 220 Boston Post Road Rye, NY 10580, (914) 231-4500
  • Rye Fishing Pier     - 499 Stuyvesant Avenue Rye, NY 10580 (914) 881-3553
  • City of Rye Boat Basin - 650 Milton Road Rye, NY 10580 (914) 967-2011
  • Rye Town Park     - 95 Dearborn Avenue Rye, NY 10580 (914) 967-0965
  • Playland Park     - 1 Playland Parkway Rye, NY 10580 (914) 813-7010
  • Disbrow Park River View - Oakland Beach Avenue Rye, NY 10580 (914) 967-5521
  • Edith G. Read Natural Park and Wildlife Sanctuary - 100 Playland Parkway Rye, NY 10580 (914) 967-8720
  • Rye Nature Center     - 873 Boston Post Road Rye, NY 10580 (914) 967-5150
  • Rye Brook Overlook (The Morehead Bridge) - 265 Rye Beach Avenue & Milton Road Rye, NY 10580     (914) 967-5521

View of Rye Town Park & the Sound

B E A C H  W A L K I N G  P A T H


Rye Town Park opened to the public in 1909.  The park is owned and operated by the Town of Rye and City of Rye via the Rye Town Park Commission which is comprised of 6 members.  The entire park property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.  The park’s 62 acres includes 28 acres of parkland,and a large wildlife pond, as well as 34 acres of beachfront and swimming area,which have historically been known as Oakland Beach and Rye Beach.  

The beach is open for swimming from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.  The park is open year-round.  No restroom facilities are available from November through March.  As you walk along the beach path, you will encounter 25 trees directly along the way.  An updated inventory of all the park’s trees determined that as of November 2015 there are 327 trees of 59 species.  

If you start your walk at Edith Read Sanctuary or Playland, you will be following this guide in the reverse order.


Starting Your Walk

Starting from Dearborn Avenue, you will first encounter what is known as the south beach entrance gate. There are two other entrances along the way.  Back in the early 20th century there was a pier extending out from Dearborn Avenue where steam boats brought park goers to and from New York City.  

Next, come two pavilions on your right.  These are used for special events, such as concerts, art shows, or public benefit events.  They can also be rented for private functions,such as reunions, graduations, weddings, and birthdays.  

You will notice that the administration (towers) building on your left, as well as the pavilions and restaurant on your right, are of a “Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival” style.The building architects were Upjohn and Conable.  The landscape architects were Brinley and Holbrook.  

Several of the trees by the pavilions are hybrid cherry varieties (166, 167,171).  

As you proceed along the path you will pass the middle entrance to the beach.  This entrance is left open during the off-season so that people can walk, jog, play in the sand, or just sunbathe, year round.

On your left you will see a gully that passes under the path to the beach.  This is the overflow stream bed,which allows water to come from the park’s pond to the Sound in times of heavy storms.  The pond receives runoff water from the park and two storm drains on Forest Avenue.  It serves to remove pollutants and nitrogen before the water reaches the Sound.  

On the right you will see thel ifeguard and first aid station.

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