In the Prince’s Bay section of Staten Island is a parcel preserved amid the tract houses that interrupts the local street grid. It is one of 15 designated natural areas on the island that are under the purview of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
Not much to see here but the signage is clear: this is Bloessers Pond, a 14-acre Wildlife Management Area that is a remnant of Sandy Brook, which drains into nearby Lemon Creek.
Where It Flows
From a Google aerial survey we see Bloessers Pond disrupting a residential grid that is bound on the east by Lemon Creek and on the west by Mount Loretto, a former Catholic orphanage, most of which is managed by the state as a nature preserve. A portion of the property was developed as Resurrection Cemetery with its own three artificial ponds. The oval on the aerial survey above marks the site of the city’s last human-operated drawbridge.
At the entrance to the cemetery on Sharrott Avenue is a ditch that provides water from Bloessers Pond for the cemetery’s ponds. Across the street, it flows behind private backyards to connect with Bloessers Pond. None of the cemetery’s three ponds have names. Looking at historical maps and aerial surveys, they did not exist before the cemetery opened in 1980.
Instead of maximizing on land availability, the management of Resurrection Cemetery opted for a historical appearance that has winding roads and lakeside lawns. Its most famous monument is a humble footstone for Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement. Prior to her death in 1980, she resided at a nearby seaside cottage.
Comparing the aerial surveys of 1924, 1951 and 2018, we see the cemetery ponds taking form, and the freshwater wetland that is Bloessers Pond becoming more defined as it is hemmed in by development. Unfortunately the most detailed DEC document that I’ve found online for Bloesser’s Pond, the 2009 Draft Unit Management Plan for Southern Staten Island does not provide any history on Bloessers Pond. When was it acquired by DEC, and who was its namesake? In contrast to most of the borough’s preserved ponds that are under city protection, why was this pond deeded to the state? The only information provided is as follows:
“Neither Bloesser’s Pond nor Arden Heights has any documented historical significance. Both units have never been developed and have remained natural areas in a heavily urbanized environment. Since the purchase and acquisition of Arden Heights and Bloesser’s Pond, no change has been made to the units.”
Across the borough, there are other significant areas that are managed by the DEC, along with one State Park at Clay Pit Ponds. Perhaps a reminder that New York City is within New York State, and even a waterway with little historical and visual significance testifies to the presence of the state in the city. When it comes to a more historically significant DEC property on Staten Island, I’ll write about Mount Loreto’s ponds and creeks in the near future.
As I see it, some of the city’s preserved waterways are the result of action by city lawmakers and others by state lawmakers. That’s likely why Bloessers Pond falls under the purview of the state. Be sure to read my essay on Priory Pond, another DEC-managed inland waterway on the island.
If I wasn’t working for NYC Parks, I’d certainly look to the DEC or State Parks for a job. Their missions closely resemble that of my current position.