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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tour with Comptroller Thompson

Monday afternoon, city Comptroller William Thompson, came out to learn more about Highland Park & the Ridgewood Reservoir issues. Also present were representatives of Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns and members of Brooklyn Community Board 5 .

I started the tour in the parking lot by pointing out the hillside across Vermont Place and that it is actually one of the retaining walls of basin #3. I also explained the "three options" scenario from the department of parks and how all choices currently entailed the removal of a section of that wall. The effect that opening the basin and removing vegetation would have on our environment ran counter to what several other city and state agencies were trying to accomplish. Those missions include reducing energy consumption, preventing the collapse of the Jamaica Bay Wetlands ecosystem and reducing combined sewer overflow.

As we began walking the running/cycling path next to basin #3 I told him about the diversity of birds that we've already identified, the endangered species of plants that were present and even the population of Italian Wall Lizards. Moments later a Meadow Vole scampered across the path in front of us and disappeared into the leaf litter. I said, "That's an new species for our list".

The fences blocking access to the paths between basins 1 & 2 and 2 & 3 had been cut, so we were able to walk the group along the inside pathways. I tried to cover all the different aspects of the area's historical significance, environmental importance and educational potential without overwhelming the comptroller with information. He was affable and seemed genuinely impressed by the reservoir habitats. We spoke easily about the potential for teaching children and adults about our environment and preparing for future green industries. I questioned him about Commissioner Lewandowski's assertion that the $50 million dollars can only be spent on the reservoir property and not surrounding Highland Park. His carefully worded answer was that her statement wasn't entirely accurate.

I made a point of discussing the reservoir in the larger context of Highland Park and how they should work as a single unit. It was made clear during conversations in the parking lot prior to and after the tour, that Highland Park has been neglected for a long time. The tour was about an hour long, but Mr. Thompson remained in the parking lot speaking with reporters and several of the other people on the tour. I came away from the tour feeling good about our contact with the comptroller. One of his final comments at the tour's conclusion was, "It's a stunning space - the elevation changes, the scenery changes. It's unique in New York City."

Send us an email

No comments: