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Jan 1, 2013 3:41 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

A Plan To Make East Hampton's Duck Pond More Friendly To All

Jan 1, 2013 4:59 PM

At the moment, a sign at the Nature Trail on David’s Lane in East Hampton Village might not quite be described as welcoming.

These trails are for WALKING ONLY.

NO PICNICS GUNS DOGS BICYCLES FIRES

POLICE PATROLLED

HELP CONTROL RODENTS

DISTRIBUTE FEED IN WATER ONLY.

The 28-acre trail and its duck pond are owned by the village and tended by, among others, the 15-member Nature Trail Committee of the Ladies Village Improvement Society. The preserve and wildlife sanctuary was donated to the village more than half a century ago by the Garden Club of East Hampton, which received it from its founder Mary Woodhouse, whose aunt, Emma Woodhouse, had established an elaborate Japanese water garden on the property in the late 19th century.

Dianne Benson, who chairs the Nature Trail Committee, pitched a different kind of sign—one suggesting what people can do rather than what they cannot, and which educates visitors—at a meeting of the East Hampton Village Board on December 21. “The village will put it up and the LVIS will pay for it,” Ms. Benson explained later. “It will make the nature trail more personal and friendlier,” she said. “It’s very, very elementary, but charming.”

The sign would stand in a kiosk based on one Ms. Benson and Lys Marigold, the Nature Trail committee’s former chair, saw on Three Mile Harbor Road and photographed to use as a model. A series of panels would brief visitors about the types of ducks that visit the pond, when they do so and why, and what type of food is best.

“Everybody wants to feed the ducks,” Ms. Benson told the board, although both adults and children may not realize that cracked corn and other readily available choices are healthier than bagels and hamburger rolls. “Instead of approaching it with a ‘no,’ we approach it with a ‘yes’” by listing alternatives, she explained.

In addition to reinforcing “a kind of etiquette” in using the preserve, the sign would welcome and educate people in very few words, Ms. Benson said.

“Dianne, I think you hit a home 
run this morning,” Village Mayor 
Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said 
after her presentation on December 21. “I think it’s a wonderful gesture.”

While committee members work out exactly what the panels will say, Ms. Benson was scheduled to meet with Scott Fithian of the 
Village Public Works Department at the end of this week to nail down details about the kiosk itself. By the end of last week, Mr. Fithian’s department had already put up a rough model at the Nature Trail, which Ms. Benson and Ms. Marigold, who live nearby, visit daily to feed the ducks.

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