The reservoir's historic structures & ecosystems are an opportunity to create a unique environmental education center for our children & their future.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tree Benefits Flyer from Parks

Here is a link to an NYC Department of Parks and Recreation document entitled "Calculating Tree Benefits for New York City". This graphic comes from the file:

So why is the commissioner talking out of both sides of his mouth? Did he think nobody would notice?

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Natural Resources Group report

In 2005 the department of parks prepared an assessment report on the Ridgewood Reservoir. The following is from the introduction of that report:

"In 1984, Parks established the Natural Resources Group (NRG) with a mandate to acquire, restore and manage natural areas in New York City. The wetlands, forests, meadows, and shorelines under NRG’s jurisdiction provide valuable habitat for hundreds of species, from rare wildflowers to endangered birds of prey. In addition to the goals mentioned above, NRG serves as a clearinghouse for technical research to aid in the protection and restoration of the city's natural resources. This inventory of Ridgewood Reservoir was conducted in 2005 as part of NRG’s commitment to improving the natural areas of New York City parks.

Today, the reservoir’s outer basins are filled and completely vegetated, while the middle basin contains a freshwater pond skirted by reeds. Habitats in the vegetated areas include closed forest, scrub, woodland, and vineland. Ridgewood Reservoir is located along the Atlantic flyway, one of the four main bird migration routes in America. Millions of birds (as well as bats, butterflies and dragonflies) travel the flyway each fall and spring. Natural areas along the flyway, such as Ridgewood Reservoir, provide these animals with food and shelter. A popular pedestrian and bike path around the reservoir offers views of the neighboring landscape as well as glimpses into the reservoir.

To facilitate the protection, management and restoration of Ridgewood Reservoir, NRG completed an inventory of the area using entitation, a process of identifying and describing ecologically distinct plant communities. Using aerial photographs and field reconnaissance, Parks staff delineated distinct ecological entities, known as entitation units, based on cover type, understory structure, species composition, and topography. Evidence of historical use, current use, environmental disturbance, and additional notes were also recorded for each unit. Entitation of Ridgewood Reservoir resulted in a map and database that can be used to locate valuable and threatened areas. They also serve as a baseline for measuring change over time."

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Queens newspapers

To send an email to any of the newspapers listed below, just click the link. It will open a new email with that local Queens newspaper as the recipient. I'll post Brooklyn papers shortly.

Forum West
Forum South
Juniper Berry
Queens Ledger
Queens Chronicle
Queens Courier
Queens Gazette
Queens Times
Queens Tribune
Times Ledger
Times Newsweekly

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Listening Session Schedule

The department of parks had created a Powerpoint-type slideshow for the "Listening Sessions" back in June. They handed out hardcopy of the presentation for each table and collected them at the end of the meeting...well, most of them. The last sheet of the 12 page document contained a project schedule. Here is that schedule:

You can download the entire document here.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Audubon Lecture update

I received two emails with information about Commissioner Benepe's presentation for the New York City Audubon Society.

Regarding plans to increase Department of Park & Recreation staff to maintain and protect any new capital improvements, he said there would be such provisions.

"He alluded to concerns expressed about the future of Highland Park/Ridgewood Reservoir in saying that there was some misunderstanding and premature conclusions about the plans for the development of that area. But he did not elaborate except to say that there would be public comment when the plan is made public."

I'm not certain how one can misunderstand or jump to conclusions when he said at the Arsenal meeting, unequivocally, that they would develop one basin and leave the other two natural.

Benepe emphasized the ongoing tree-planting program and the need for "active" recreation facilities (ball fields). He defended artificial turf installation against concerns of the possible carcinogenic effects of the crumb rubber used as padding. "No one raised the issue of habitat loss and the cooling effect of natural grass and the heat absorption of the artificial turf."

He was asked about the excessive mowing in Marine Park that reduces bird habitat. His response was that there was considerable community pressure to have "weedy" areas mowed because of insects and breeding animals. Benepe said he understood conservation concerns and asked the questioner to send him an e-mail detailing any complaints. The mowers and pruners have recently destroyed a brushy area along the fire road in Marine Park. It was always a good place to find sparrows and thrushes. I wonder what his idea is of "considerable community pressure". Perhaps, like the incident at Dreier-Offerman Park where they mowed down recently planted saplings, the grounds crew had little or no guidance.

I was a little disappointed that there didn't appear to be any Ridgewood Reservoir advocates present to ask pointed questions. It is understandable because Wednesday evening after work is inconvenient for most people and I can't complain because even I wasn't present.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Old images of Highland Park and the reservoir

Here is a slideshow of old images that Charles has collected over the years:

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Trees" Flickr Group

The Flatbush Gardener has started a public Flickr group dedicated to trees. Check out his blog.

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Statement by Queens Groups

The following statement was issued today:

Joint Statement of Queens Civic Congress and Queens Coalition for Parks & Green Spaces

New York City must work to preserve its historic natural areas; these historic settings must receive much the same treatment as historical landmarks. The destruction or loss of any natural areas negatively impacts the quality of life for the surrounding communities bordering these green spaces. It flies in the face of what City Hall advocates for parks and preservation in PlaNYC. Ridgewood Reservoir should be preserved as such and the monies (some $46 million) to destroy this green area's natural settings should be re-allocated to purchases to preserve other threatened historical natural areas which also include historical structures -- such as St. Savior's, the Klein Farm, Iris Hill and the former Cornell Farm. What we destroy today cannot be restored tomorrow.

City Hall needs to take a hard look and re-evaluate what needs to be done to preserve natural areas before they cease to exist. This includes re-thinking any plans that threaten natural parks and historic settings such as Ridgewood Reservoir, St. Savior's, the Klein Farm, Iris Hill and the former Cornell Farm.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

NYC Audubon Lecture

The following is from the New York City Audubon's newsletter:

November Lecture: Creating a Greener NYC with Adrian Benepe

Wednesday, November 14th, 6pm

Adrian Benepe has worked for the last 28 years protecting and enhancing New York City's natural and historic beauty. Since his appointment as Commissioner of the Department of Parks & Recreation by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on January 25, 2002, he has focused on improving park facilities and programs for children and developing new waterfront parks and greenways.

Commissioner Benepe will discuss New York City's current period of transformation and expansion of its parks. The Department of Parks and Recreation is managing the biggest capital investment in New York City’s parks since the 1930s. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC initiative, Parks is receiving an additional $1.2 billion to expand active recreation and for greening initiatives. Commissioner Benepe will explain these projects and discuss their role in creating a greener, more sustainable city.

The Lecture Series is made possible in part by the generous support of Dr. Claude Bloch.

Helen Mills Theater at 137-139 West 26th Street (6th & 7th Ave)

Directions: 1, N, R, W to 28th St.; F, V to 23rd St.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Please note changes in time and location for this year's series.

Please RSVP by Wednesday November 14 to or 212.691.7483

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Marked trees follow-up

I just spoke on the telephone with Josephine Scalia from The Forest and Highland Park Administrator’s Office regarding the trees with the spray painted markings. She assured me that those trees were not going to be cut down. She thought that they might have been surveyor's marks, but wasn't certain. While we were speaking she also mentioned that they had been repairing the fences around the reservoir and placing no trespassing signs. She asked that "our group" respect their efforts to keep people out of the basins and elevated paths between the basins.

Angel and several of the regular cyclists and joggers were curious why, after so many years of neglect, are park administrators suddenly concerned about the fences. Does this sudden concern for the reservoir also mean that they are going to begin cracking down on the illegal use of ATVs? If someone from parks reads this, perhaps they can post the answer in the comments section.

I just spoke with Debbie Kuha, the administrator for Highland and Forest Parks regarding the questions I posed in the above paragraph. Apparently, until relatively recently, the responsibility for maintaining the property was the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and the running track (which is part of the Greenway) was Department of Transportation. In essence, what I understood from the conversation was that they are still working out the administrative transition to Queens Parks. We spoke about the ATVs and she assured my that she will do her best to have the NYPD and PEP catch these people and issue summonses. I don't know if it is within the NYPD's authority, but I suggested confiscating a few as it would send a strong message.

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New York Municipal Forest Resource Analysis

I stumble upon an very informative report while searching for something unrelated to the reservoir. This is from the cover of the report:

City of New York, New York Municipal Forest Resource Analysis

Technical report to:

Fiona Watt, Chief Forestry and Horticulture

Department of Parks & Recreation

New York City, New York

Paula J. Peper, E. Gregory McPherson, James R. Simpson, Shelley L. Gardner, Kelaine E. Vargas, Qingfu Xiao

March 2007

USDA Forest Service, Center for Urban Forest Research

It is a report that I assume the commissioner of parks would have read, but what do I know. In the introduction is the following:

The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (hereafter “Parks”) actively manages over 592,000 street trees, and has planted over 120,000 new trees over the past 10 years. The city believes that the public’s investment in stewardship of the urban forest produces benefits that far outweigh the costs to the community. Investing in New York City’s green infrastructure makes sense economically, environmentally, and socially.

Research indicates that healthy city trees can mitigate impacts associated with urban environs: polluted stormwater runoff, poor air quality, high requirements for energy for heating and cooling buildings, and heat islands. Healthy public trees increase real estate values, provide neighborhood residents with a sense of place, and foster psychological, social, and physical health. Street and park trees are associated with other intangibles, too, such as increasing community attractiveness for tourism and business and providing wildlife habitat and corridors. The urban forest makes New York City a more enjoyable place to visit, live, work and play, while mitigating the city’s environmental impactment fees.

The Municipal Forest Resource Analysis is available in its entirety as a PDF file.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Times Newsweekly article

The following article appeared in the Times Newsweekly:

Parks Dept. Mulls Plan For Athletic Fields At Reservoir

by Robert Pozarycki, Times Newsweekly 10/25/07

Though plans for a renovated Ridgewood Reservoir remain in design, the Department of Parks and Recreation is reportedly considering a plan to clear one of the basin’s three chambers to make way for numerous athletic fields.

A spokesperson for the Parks Department informed the Times Newsweekly that the agency is deliberating a proposal to bring “active recreation” such as baseball and football fields to the new 50-acre park that is being created on the reservoir site straddling the Brooklyn/Queens border.

As part of a $50 million overhaul, the Parks Department is reportedly considering a plan to bulldoze as many as 20 acres of trees from the Ridgewood Reservoir to create new athletic fields. The plan was met with criticism from some in the community, who observed that the area—which has developed into a natural wetland since the reservoir was taken off line since 1989—should be left predominantly as a nature preserve.

In order to do that, as indicated in published reports, the department would need to clear one of the reservoir’s chambers, which have evolved into a tree-lined natural habitat in the years since the Ridgewood Reservoir was taken out of the city’s water system.

The spokesperson cautioned that “nothing is set in stone,” adding that the department continues to look at all input received during several listening sessions held in Queens and Brooklyn on the site. The representative noted that the department has determined there is “still an interest in preserving a reservoir” while adding other activities.

The $50 million renovation of the Ridgewood Reservoir is part of a nearly $400 million initiative launched by the city to renovate eight “regional parks” throughout the five boroughs, including nearby Highland Park, where a new 60-acre “active recreation center” is proposed to be constructed.

Despite the reported plan, one local activist maintained that many in the community would rather see the Ridgewood Reservoir preserved as a nature preserve with “passive recreation.”

Paul Kerzner, president of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, observed that such sentiment was expressed by many in attendance during listening sessions regarding the reservoir site. He stated that the addition of walking and nature trails to the current reservoir along with other minor improvements would provide sufficient activity for all visitors.

“We don’t have to have organized sports,” he told the Times Newsweekly, adding that the reservoir as a natural habitat would provide local schoolchildren and residents with an ample opportunity to learn about their environment.

“[There are] very few meadow areas that kids can go to learn about nature,” Kerzner added, advising that the Parks Department “leave it alone. Don’t tamper with Mother Nature. It’s great the way it is. I hope [Commissioner Adrian Benepe] would take a second look at this.”

Queens Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano indicated to this paper that the advisory body would also examine the Parks Department’s proposal and would consult with their colleagues at Brooklyn Community Board 5 (which shares jurisdiction with the reservoir) over the proposal.

“A lot of people visting [the new park] will be coming from Brooklyn,” he said. “I believe we would want to work as closely as possible with Brooklyn Board 5 and their residents as far as helping the Parks Department plan what should be done there.”

Giordano added that the community board would consider holding a public hearing on the matter in the near future.


The Ridgewood Reservoir was opened in 1858 and initially served as the primary fresh water source for the then-city of Brooklyn. The basin was named for the town in present-day Nassau County from which the water was funneled in.

Ridgewood, Queens and Ridgewood, Brooklyn gained their names from the reservoir, while several local streets in both boroughs—including Conduit Boulevard/Avenue and Force Tube Avenue—were named for the devices that piped the fresh water to the basin which laid below the roadways.

At its peak, the reservoir held over 154 million gallons of water, enough to provide drink to Brooklyn residents for up to 10 days. The basin was used regularly until 1959, when New York City converted it into a backup water supply.

After the reservoir was taken completely out of the water system by the Department of Environmental Protection in 1989, the land remained dormant through 2004, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an agreement that transferred the 50-acre property from the DEP to the Parks Department. By then, the area had evolved into a natural wetland and habitat.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

ATVs on the running path

I went over to the reservoir late afternoon yesterday. Angel was there and told me that I had just missed all of the ATVs. He said that, as usual, they were riding on the running and biking path, as well as, tearing up the hillsides surrounding the basins. I can't imagine the damage that they would do if they could get their ATVs down inside of them. I'm sure that they've thought of it. Angel's friend Peter told me that he has caught kids with pellet guns killing birds and rabbits. Is this the Wild West?! Where is the NYPD or the Parks Enforcement Patrols?

On my way back to the subway I heard the loud engine of an ATV coming down the running path. I pulled out my camera just as it came around the corner in front of me. The guy driving it slowed down and glared at me when he saw my camera. I was only able to take one photo of him because the camera took a moment to turn on. You can see him looking over his shoulder at me. I'm so scared...not.

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Are trees already being cut down?

There were surveyors at the Ridgewood Reservoir today. At the stretch of woodlands between the west basin and Highland Blvd. several dozen trees were marked with spray paint. The city usually marks trees in this manner when they are planning to cut them down. If these trees are coming down, will the community board be notified?

This is the area where the trees were marked.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ferry Point Park debacle

Here is the link to the New York Times article that Parnell mentioned in a recent comment.

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Police Precincts near Ridgewood Reservoir

Here are links to the websites of two police precincts that need to be contacted regarding ATVs at the reservoir, as well as, contact information:

Brooklyn 75th Precinct
Inspector David Barrere

1000 Sutter Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11208

(718) 827-3511

The 75th Precinct is located in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Included in this area are Cypress Hills, Starrett City and City Line. It is a residential and commercial community with eight major housing complexes. Shopping areas run along the east end of Fulton Street, Liberty Avenue and the south end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Contact Information
Precinct: (718) 827-3511
Community Affairs: (718) 827-3553
Community Policing: (718) 827-3329
Crime Prevention: (718) 827-3524

Community Council
President: Jean Reynolds
1st Vice President: Orlando Cepeda
2nd Vice President: Anthony Mammina

Meetings: The precinct community council meeting is held the first Wednesday of the month at the precinct station house at 7:30 p.m.

Queens 104th Precinct
Captain Keith Green

64-2 Catalpa Ave., Queens, NY, 11385

(718) 386-3004

The 104th Precinct is located in the northwest section of Queens, covering the areas of Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth. There are 60 Houses of Worship and 18 cemeteries, of all faiths located within this command.

Contact Information
Precinct: (718) 386-3004
Community Affairs: (718) 386-2431/2446
Community Policing: (718) 386-4006
Crime Prevention: (718) 386-6223

Community Council
President: Mike Hetzer
Vice President: Diann Cusimano-Timki

Meetings: The 104th Precinct Community Council meets the 4th Wednesday of every month at 8:00 p.m. at the Covenant Lutheran Church located at 6859 60 Avenue.

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ATV Usage

Last Sunday was the first time that I went to the Ridgewood Reservoir during mid-afternoon on the weekend. I was appalled by the abuse of ATVs throughout Upper Highland Park and around the reservoir. ATV owners would ride unrestricted on the running/bicycle path, the hillsides and, at one point, I watched one guy doing a wheelie up Highland Blvd to the intersection at Vermont Place. Angel told me that was business as usual and that the police and parks department have been called many times, but they don't do anything to curtail the problem. The damage that they do is so bad that you can see it clearly in the satellite images.

I don't understand what the problem is, as the "Rules of New York City" are very clear with regard to ATVs. What they are doing is not just destructive and annoying, it's illegal! Click here to download a list of "Department of Transportation" and "Department of Parks and Recreation" rules that unambiguously apply to ATVs.

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Forum West Cover Story

The Ridgewood Reservoir is the cover story for the November 1 issue. You can read the entire story on the Juniper Park Civic Association's website.

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