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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Visit to the Water Works - 1858

The following article was published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It has an interesting, scientific bend, but also makes some political commentary and observations at the end of the article.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: April 10, 1858

Mastodon Remains.

Having heard of the recent discovery of some bones of the Mastodon in the excavations made for the Brooklyn Water Works at Baisley's Pond two miles beyond the Village of Jamaica, we availed ourselves of a favorable opportunity to visit the locality, curious to witness the disinterment of the remains of so interesting a monster, or if this might not be, at least to be the conditions under which they were deposited. The Brooklyn and Williamsburgh Aqueduct is to be supplied from a series of short watercourses, whose source is near the southern base of the range of Highlands which passes along through the central portion of Long island, two to three miles back from it.

The strip of country is exceedingly well watered, and the streams gushing out from the sand are pure and never failing. They have long been used to supply the power for the saw and gristmills of the region, and, when choked in their course by dams, or natural obstructions, they have spread out into ponds, which, when cleared of their vegetable accumulation, are made convenient reservoirs, with cleans natural bottoms of sand.

Baisley's Pond is the nearest of these sources of supply, and a covered conduit is constructed to lead from it into the open canal, which receives the water of more distant sources. At the juncture of this conduit with the canal, the latter gives place to the main conduit, through which the waters are conveyed five miles to the pumping engines, which are to be stationed below the great reservoirs on Edgewood Hill. Before the pond was drained for cleaning, it was a long, shoal collection of water, covering some thirty-five acres, overgrown with water lilies, and its banks wiry with peat muck. A living stream of tester runs through it, which for generations past had turned a mill at its outlet. Another mill is still running higher upon the same stream. The water being removed, the bottom was found to be a deposit of peat – its upper portion matted together with the roots of the water lilies. These, as large as a man's arm, were intertwined with one another in a coarse network, difficult to break into with the mattock and the pick. By their great number, by their surface covered with tubercles or knobs, from which spring the rootlets and the stems of the plant, and by their occurring in the midst of so dense a carbonaceous deposit, one could not but be reminded of those similarly shaped fossil stems so abundant in the stratum of clay which underlies almost every bed of mineral coat - fossils now called stigmariae which though converted into sandstone or fire clay, prove, by their being traced it several instances to their junction with erect head trunks, to have been the roots of plants which furnished a considerable portion of the ancient coal beds. Under the lily root, the peat, half or wholly converted into muck, formed a rich black deposit, reaching in many places to four feet in thickness. All this is in progress of being broken up and carted beyond the limits of the pond. The amount thus removed is estimated at about 200,000 cubic yards at this pond alone. It is spread upon the adjacent sandy fields as waste, the farmers near by not appreciating its value. An efflorescence of sulphate of iron or coppers forms upon some portions of the heap, and the smell of sulphuric acid is plainly perceived in passing over them.

Around some of the springs s ferruginous deposit is observed from the decomposition of the sulphuret of iron dispensed through the sand. Except with these substances nothing of interest has been met with in clearing out the pond until the discovery of the mastodon bones. These were found in the upper portion of the pond more or less imbedded in the top of the sand and beneath three and a half or four feet of the partially decomposed peat. The workmen had shoveled up and carted away a quantity of decayed bony matters before the discovery of several huge molar teeth, well preserved by the protection afforded by their hard enamel, caused attention to be directed to the spot and search to be made in the heaps removed for other portions of the skeleton. Pieces of bone were found, but in too imperfect and decayed fragments to be preserved. But the teeth were sufficient to identify the animal. These were four in number the largest about nine inches on the crown, divided into six traverse ridges, the length of the tooth from the crown to the extremity of the root length from six to seven inches. They are probably the teeth of the same species of mastodon, the Giganteus, which has been found under almost precisely similar circumstances in several localities in this State, in New Jersey and Connecticut, and several of the Southern and Western Slates. The most famous specimen for its size and state of preservation was found in 1845 near Newburgh. The skeleton measured twenty-five feet in length and twelve feet in height. The same year no less than six skeletons of the same animal were found in Warren County, New Jersey, six feet below the surface also beneath a rich mud which filled a pond. The most of the bones crumbled to pieces on exposure to the air. Within the ribs of the best preserved specimen was found, together with the clay, a quantity of vegetable remains - some seven bushels of what Lyell supposed had served for the food of the animal.

Specimens of it, examined for him by the microscope in London, proved to be twigs of a coniferous tree, probably the white cedar, which is still a common product of such swampy places as the animal frequented. Discoveries of these remains have rarely been made east of the Hudson River. 'They are more common at the brackish springs in Ohio and Kentucky, which are still the resort of the deer, as they were in former times of the Buffalo and other large wild animals. The bones of those and of the mammoth found with them have given to one of the localities in Kentucky the name of Big-Bone Lick. The Mastodon bones are almost as abundant as are those of living species; and they are by so means the only specimens of these which are extinct. For with them are found strange species or the elephant, horse, &c. The extreme eastern haunts of these huge creatures appear to have been near the Connecticut River. A bone was found some years ago in Sharon, Conn., a tooth at Chesire, and a vertebral bone at Berlin, twelve miles southwest of Hartford. The new locality on Long Island is thus upon the eastern margin of their range. It would be interesting to determine, if possible, whether these animals have been contemporaneous with man; but there is is nothing in the mode of occurrence of their remains to decide the question either way. There are no data for fixing the period required for the growth of the vegetable deposit which commonly covers their bones. The Indians of the North West, it is stated by Prof. Mather, have a tradition of the existence of such animals; that they fed on the boughs of trees; that they did not lie down, but leaned against a tree to sleep Their name for them meant tree-eaters. Their teeth, which are all molars, indicate that such was the nature of their food.

But these speculative questions upon the nature of their deposits and their fossils are not the only subjects of interest that attract the attention of a visitor to this locality. He finds himself in a farming district, comparatively thrifty, and remarkably convenient to the greatest markets. The soil, naturally poor and sandy, is made productive by manure; much of it carted back as return loads by the wagons, which convey the produce of the farm to Brooklyn and New York. But that which the farm itself should return to the soil is sadly neglected. The richness of the barnyard manure evaporates in the sand, is washed out by the rain, while the dry refuse is returned to the field. Compost making appears to be an unknown art, and the immense resources on hand in the piles of decomposing peat are quite disregarded. That the value of their stock of animal manure may be trebled by judicious mixing of the muck is not in the experience of these farmers. Rumors, it is true, have reached them that there is value in the article; but they regard it as it lies spread out around their farms, with a shy aspect, as fish look upon a tempting bait placed in their way - something very good if they knew how to take it, but which may catch them if they lake hold of it the wrong way - so they judiciously wait to see the result of an experiment made by one bolder than the rest, who has covered a field of several acres, eighteen inches deep, with pure muck, upon which he intends to plant potatoes. The result of this experiment, with nothing even to neutralise the acidity of the sulphate of iron, is not likely to add to the estimation of the unappreciated muck. What an opportunity is there afforded for a skillful agriculturist to secure these 200,000 cubic yards of fertilizing material, and with it enrich the sandy fields for which it may be made so excellent a nutriment. What excellent opportunities for the cultivation of the cranberry, a crop but little known in this region, though well suited to it, and probably made with ease more remunerative than any now cultivated.

Another subject that came to our notice in this excursion upon the line of the Brooklyn Water Works is the furnishing of the vast amount of iron pipes required for the conveyance of the water from the pumping engines so the reservoirs, and thence to the city and throughout the streets of Brooklyn end Williamsburgh. The quantities required arc nearly as follows: 5 miles of pipe 3 feet in diameter, and the same
length of 30-inch pipe; 4 miles of 20 inch pipe; 12 of 12 inch; 36 miles of 8 inch; and 64 miles of 6 inch diameter. With all resources of iron ores, skill and capital, a considerable proportion of this pipe is imported from Glasgow, Scotland. Not merely do we fail to furnish the rails for our roads, but even the cruder castings, the manufacture of which involves less heavy capital, and would seem to demand less costly skill, cannot be furnished by our own works to the extent required, and in the production of the pipe made in this country there is doubtless consumed a large amount of Scotch pig iron.

Such facts reflect grievously upon the policy adopted by our Government of refusing for a proper time the protection required to establish our iron works upon an independent basis; and they cannot fail to make themselves felt and appreciated by those farming communities in the vicinity of the numerous furnaces, bloomeries, forger and rolling-mills, which, it appears from the late report of the Iron Association of Philadelphia, are now lying idle, many of them altogether abandoned, throughout the Middle and Western States. The harvests of foreign fields are in demand to sustain the labor involved in the production of the iron consumed around these communities; while the value of their own farms depreciates with those of the iron mines and works, which should insure to them the market for their products.

In the use of iron pipes for conveying water, an oxidation of their inner surface takes place, causing a waste of the metal, and injuriously affecting the purity of the water. A process has been adopted in Manchester of coating the pipes with coal tar, from which, by partial distillation, the naptha and other highly volatile products are first expelled. The pipes thus protected have, after a trial of several years, successfully withstood the action of water; and the process in regarded as so satisfactory, that it is now introduced to some extent upon the pipes furnished to the Brooklyn Water Works. The application of the coal tar is made at the foundries, after the pipes have been well cleaned from the moulding sand. They are healed to about 300 ° F., when the coal tar is laid on. It spreads evenly over the iron, and as this cools, firmly adheres to its surface. The laying of the pipes is rapidly extending throughout the principal streets. The 30-inch mains are already covered on the southern extremity of Clinton Street, in South Brooklyn; and before another Winter our neighbors across the East River will be as liberally supplied with the pure element as we are on this aide are with the Croton. -

N. Y. Tribune.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Common Council Plans - 1853

Brooklyn's Mayor Lambert penned an article for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It appears that the the city of Brooklyn was one step closer to breaking ground on the reservoir system that they envisioned.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: June 23, 1853

Outline of Plan For Supplying the City of Brooklyn With Water

The Common Council of the city of Brooklyn, in pursuance of an Act of the Legislature entitled "An Act for the supply of the city of Brooklyn with Water, passed 3rd June, 1853," have provisionally adopted a plan for such supply, of which the following is an outline:

The sources from which the Water will be obtained are East Meadow Brook, in the town of Hempstead, Parsonage Creek, also in said town, and intermediate streams, which have been, or may be hereafter purchased for said purpose, and which are estimated to furnish Water sufficient for the supply of a population four times as great as that contained in the city of Brooklyn at the present.

This analysis of the Water, which has been made, shows it to be purer than that supplied to any other city in in the country. (Boston only excepted.)

Suitable Dams or Reservoirs will be constructed on sold Streams, and the Water will be brought thence in a conduit or partly in a conduit and partly in an open canal, at or near to the base of the line of hills forming the back bone of the island, where the pump well will be located, and the necessary steam engines and the machinery erected to elevate the Water to a Reservoir, to be located upon the summit of said line of hills, which Reservoir will be of ample capacity to contain a supply beyond the daily wants of the city; and from thence the Water will be distributed by Iron Pipes throughout the city, as the wants of the citizens, and the location of the population may require.

The Conduit or Canal will be constructed of suitable capacity to carry Water sufficient, for at least four times our present population.

The estimated cost of bringing from the farthest point named, a sufficient supply of Water for the present wants of the city, including the costs of streams, land, damages, conduit pumps, well, steam engine and machinery, reservoirs and eighty miles of distribution pipes, hydrants and all other things necessary to complete the work in the best manner, is Four Milllions Dollars.

The additional cost as the population of the city increases, will consist of such further steam power as might be necessary to elevate the additional quantity or Water which might be required, and of such further distribution pipes as would be necessary to furnish the same to the consumers.

It is estimated that the cost of supplying a population double our present numbers will, when required, add to the original cost of the work, One and-a-half Millions of Dollar,

Edward A. Lambert, Mayor

Joseph Hegeman, City Clerk

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Historic Ridgewood Reservoir

Over the next few weeks I will be posting historical news accounts of the creation of the Ridgewood Reservoir. I thought it would be appropriate to begin with the legislative process starting in 1853. In addition, Riccardo Gomes has a great website called "The East New York Project" with lots of images and information about the reservoir here. Images were taken from "Documents and Plans Submitted By The Water Committee, to the Common Council of the City of Brooklyn, For The Year 1854" available as a PDF file on Google Books.

The New York Times: April 28, 1853

Brooklyn City

Water for Brooklyn - In the Brooklyn Common Council, on Monday evening, Alderman Marvin, a Chairman of the Water Committee, made a report stating the position in the legislature of the Brooklyn Water Bill, and also of the Williamsburg Water Work Bill, expressing an opinion that without great exertion being made, the bill of the latter would pass the Senate at the extra session. In connection with this report was presented a statement of the water question for publication and general circulation. This statement thus alludes to the policy of supplying a city like Brooklyn with water by a private company, and the eventual sale of the work. To the corporation, as provided for in the Williamsburg Water Works company's bill. "They believe that the experience of other cities which have been supplied by private companies, has been generally unsatisfactory, and that sooner or later the public sentiment has demanded that the work should be under public control, and contemplating the probability that sooner or later the city would purchase the work, the bill in question has been deemed especially objectionable. The terms under which Williamsburg or Brooklyn may purchase the works are such as would afford a large profit to the company, and would wake it an important object for them to secure a sale.

Those terms are 20 percent, premium if purchased within five years; 19 percent in six years; 18 percent, in seven years, together with such sums as added to the receipts after deducting the expenses, shall be equal to 10 percent annual interest. There is, as we suppose, no reasonable doubt, that if the city of Brooklyn were now prepared to undertake this work, the amount of money necessary for the purpose could be borrowed upon bonds of long date, at 5 percent interest, making a difference of 5 percent annually against the city if the work is undertaken by a private company and subsequently purchased by the city. If the work should be constructed for the capital asked by the company, say $3,000,000, it would cost the city:

20 percent premium, and 25 percent extra interest to purchase at the end of five years, say 45 percent

19 percent premium, and 30 percent. extra in. Terest at the end of 8 years is 49 percent


18 percent premium, and 35 percent, extra in. Terest at the end of 7 years, is 53 percent


17 percent premium, and 40 percent extra in terest, at the end of 8 years is 57 percent


38 percent premium, and 45 percent extra in at the end of 9 years is 61 percent


15 percent premium, and 50 percent extra interest, at the end of 10 years is 65 percent

And so on increasing annually $20,000 per annum beyond the ordinary interest, which the city would have to pay, at the end of 20 years the premium would be reduced to 5 percent, but the extra interest would amount to 10 percent, so that the price which we should have to pay for the water works upon an estimate of cost of $3,000,000, would be 105 percent premium and extra interest, or $3,150,000. The gross cost would be the

Original expenditure

100 percent interest 20 years

5 percent premium
150,000 $6,150,000

Less any surplus which might remain of water rents after paying annual expenses, &c., aside front the large cost which would have to be borne by the city of Brooklyn in purchasing the rights and property of this company, as compared with the cost if undertaken at once at our own expense, it will be seen that there is no inducement to construct the works economically, substantially or with a view to the convenience or usefulness of the city."

The report and statement of the committee were adopted.

The New York Times: July 14, 1853

Brooklyn City

Another Water Plan for Brooklyn - An adjourned meeting of the Common Council was held Tuesday evening, at the City Hall, Alderman Harteau of the Sixth Ward, in the Chair. At a late hour of the session, Alderman Marvin, of the Fourth Ward, asked permission to offer a preamble and resolutions relative to introducing water into Brooklyn, which being granted, the following was submitted:

Whereas, The plan submitted for the supply of the city with water has not been approved by the vote of a majority of the citizens; and whereas, the defeat of such plan is believed to be attributable to the objections entertained by the people to several portions of the Water Act; and, whereas, it is desirable to have the said act so amended as to obviate the said objections, and to obtain the concurrence of the people in the speedy adoption of a proper plan to supply the city with water; therefore,

Resolved, That application be immediately made to the Legislature to amend the said act in the following particulars. viz:

1. So as to provide for the appointment of six Water Commissioners by the vote of twothirds of all the mem bers elected to the Common Council prior to the submission of the plan to a vote of the people, whose names shall be published, together with the plan proposed for the supply.

2. So as to limit the amount of money to be borrowed to four millions of dollars.

3. So as to require contracts for the construct!on of the Water works to be given to the lowest responsible bidder.

4. That the Water Commissioners shall not be bound to proceed with the execution of the plan approved, if it shall satisfactorily appear to them that the sources of supply are insufficient

5. That the 36th section be so amended as to insert in the twelfth line, after the word Brooklyn, the words, " by a two third vote."

Resolved, That His Honor the Mayor be requested to proceed to Albany, and to use all necessary means to procure the immediate passage of such amendments to the Water act.

The above was adopted by unanimous consent, Alderman Dayton having been excused from voting.

Mayor Lambert took the 1 o'clock train this (Wednesday) morning for Albany, with the amended bill in his pocket.

copyright © The New York Times

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Another Artificial Turf Article

The following was just published in the Daily News:

Concerns grow over phony turf as Rufus King Park opens new field
By Barry Paddock

Monday, July 28th 2008, 5:15 PM

Despite calls for a moratorium on artificial turf, city officials cut the ribbon on Queens' newest synthetic sports field last week.

But amid health and environmental concerns about recycled rubber, the city is using alternate materials for future fields.

The new field at Rufus King Park in Jamaica features controversial "crumb rubber" made of tiny bits of shredded tires, which acts as artificial dirt, or infill, between synthetic blades of grass. An average soccer field uses 27,000 recycled tires.

"It's obviously completely against [Mayor] Bloomberg's phony greening of New York," said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates. "They're taking away grass. It's absurd. Grass produces oxygen - it cleans the air."

Read the article in its entirety here.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Parks Department is Making More Friends

It sounds like the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe has made another "friend". This time it's Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro.

"Molinaro -- who refuses to sign off on the Parks Department's proposed configuration for two roads that will cut through the park, connecting Richmond Avenue with the West Shore Expressway -- is taking his opposition to the public, using harsh words to describe city officials. He said he plans to take his "road show across Staten Island," giving his presentation to community and business groups in the borough."

You can read the entire article here.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

High Line Park

The New York Times just posted an excellent Op-Ed piece about Manhattan's planned High Line Park. It's one more example of the lack of vision within the city department of parks:

High Line, Low Aims
By Sean Wilsey

LATE last month, city officials and the group Friends of the High Line presented the final design for part of the $170 million High Line park that is under construction on the West Side of Manhattan. The High Line, an abandoned elevated railway that once carried freight to, and sometimes inside, warehouses, is already a fanciful forest of industrial decay and native plants, and it has the potential to be the most delightful and unconventional green space in the country.

And yet I was struck by the banality of the plans unveiled. The idea, come to at great expense and after much fanfare, is essentially to plant some native shrubs (the same shrubs that have been colonizing the structure since the last train ran on it, in 1980) and thread a path through them. I’d been hoping for a utopia. Instead, I got sumac. The plan’s most exciting element is a big glass panel that would allow people on 10th Avenue to look up and see the pedestrians on the High Line. This, plate glass and sumac, provides the city with absolutely nothing it doesn’t already have in abundance.

What a waste. The High Line is in many ways a metaphor for the heterogeneity of New York, and an ideal plan should reflect that. It joins two neighborhoods that have been in historic opposition: Greenwich Village, the historical heart of bohemia, and Midtown, a center of global capitalism and corporate culture. To span the gulf, it runs through a largely defunct slaughterhouse district, a gallery district, low-income housing projects, the center of gay Manhattan and heaps of old warehouses. Can’t this be a place to dream?

Read the entire piece here.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Jerome Park Reservoir Hearing

Just another reason not to trust the city's alleged plans for the Ridgewood Reservoir. The following was just published in the Daily News.

Hearing set on Jerome Park Reservoir blasting for water treatment plant
By Bill Egbert Daily News Staff Writer
Thursday, July 10th 2008, 5:10 PM

With residents going ballistic over the city's plan to use blasting for a water project in their area, three local community boards are joining for a public hearing to let them blow off steam.

Community Boards 7, 8 and 12 are sponsoring a public hearing July 15 to address the Department of Environmental Protection's recently announced plan to use blasting at the Jerome Park Reservoir in part of the controversial Croton Water Treatment Plant project underway at Van Cortlandt Park.

"There is a real fear that something major could go wrong," said Fernando Tirado, district manager for Community Board 7. "All the comments we're getting from the community so far have been negative."

Residents and community leaders are outraged at the dramatic departure from the plan assessed in the project's Environmental Impact Statement, which stipulated that the shaft by the reservoir would be dug by the raised-bore method - drilling up to the surface from the underground water tunnel - with the rubble removed through the tunnel to the Van Cortlandt site to be trucked away from there.

The new plan calls for four months of blasting down from the surface and trucking out the 9,000 cubic yards of debris through neighborhood streets.

DEP said it expects the blasting to be cheaper and faster than the method promised in the statement, but that's little comfort to local residents, said Tirado.

Citing overruns that have nearly tripled the cost of the multi-billion-dollar project, construction mishaps at the reservoir, and federal allegations of mob connections, Tirado questioned whether setting off explosives in a residential neighborhood next to three high schools and a college is the wisest way for DEP to start economizing.

"This seems to be a very cheap cost-cutting measure that doesn't take into account the interests of the community," Tirado said

Residents are invited to express their interests and concerns from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the faculty dining room of the Lehman College Music Building.

DEP is also expected to give testimony justifying the departure from the statement and outlining noise mitigation measures it plans to put in place, such as enclosing the work area with a 20-foot-high sound barrier like the one surrounding the blasting work already carried out at Van Cortlandt Park.

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Another City Fighting Fake Turf

Residents of Highlands Park, San Carlos are also under assault by artificial turf planners. Check out their blog.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Calvert Vaux Park meeting

This is another one of the mayor's "destination parks" that is destined for disaster if we don't make our voices heard.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Commissioner's Response to Turf Temperature

New York City's Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe has come up with a creative solution to the unacceptably high temperatures associated with artificial turf - put up a sign. A story with the header "City posts warnings of health risks to those playing on scorching fields" just appeared in Metro NY. Is the next step going to be an instruction sheet for treating third degree burns on children?

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Monday, July 7, 2008

More Artificial Turf Data

The following article is from the New York Daily News:

Parks' fake grass can reach a scorching 162 degrees
By Jeff Wilkins And Elizabeth Hays
Saturday, July 5th 2008, 10:00 PM

It's like walking on hot coals.

Artificial turf installed in city fields can heat up to a blistering 162 degrees even on a mild summer day, a Daily News investigation has found.

"My feet are burning! I had to dump cold water on my shoes just to walk around," Yannick Pena, 9, complained to his mom on a recent visit to Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx, where The News found the turf hit temperatures of 145 to 160 degrees on an 80-degree day.

At Staten Island's Greenbelt Recreation Center, where turf temperatures reached 149, park regular Diana Stentella, 58, wondered how kids survived the heat.

"When they play soccer here, do they have an ambulance to take the kids away?" Stentella said. "On a hot, humid day you would faint out here."

Over two mildly warm days last month, The News took surface temperature readings at five synthetic fields across the city accompanied by NYC Park Advocates, a group that has been critical of the fake grass.

At all five, temperatures at the synthetic fields soared roughly twice as high as at nearby natural grass ones, from a low of 144 degrees at the Greenbelt Recreation Center on Staten Island to a scorching 162 at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.

"It's sadistic that the city is installing a product which gets so hot and is actually expecting the public to play on it," said NYC Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft.

"Clearly, artificial turf presents many serious public health and safety issues that the city simply refuses to address," Croft said.

The scorching temperatures are just one of the nagging fears critics have about the turf, an infill made of recycled crumb rubber from old tires.

The city has installed the turf at nearly 100 parks and playgrounds across the city. An additional 68 projects are in the works.

Earlier this year, The News reported concerns that the millions of tiny crumbs contain heavy metals like lead and cadmium, as well as volatile organic compounds and other chemicals.

"This is very alarming," said Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum when told of The News' findings. "Now this, on top of the other questions we have. There needs to be a moratorium on these fields."

Despite the uproar, a city Department of Health study concluded this spring that the chemicals in synthetic turf fields cause no known health problems.

Health officials acknowledged fake fields can get excessively hot and can cause more heat-related problems, especially in children.

When confronted with The News' findings, the Parks Department also conceded high temperatures can be a problem at turf fields.

They said they were in the process of installing signs warning visitors of the dangers at fields across the city.

"The temperatures can get very high during the heat of the day. But people are smart. They are not going to use a place that is uncomfortable to play on," said Liam Kavanagh, first deputy parks commissioner.

Kavanagh also said the city plans to stop using the crumb-rubber infill because of excessive heat and switch over to a carpet-style turf.

One of the fields The News tested, in Macombs Dam Park, already has the new turf - and still tested as high as 160 degrees.

"My feet always blister coming out here. The bottoms of my shoes feel like melted rubber, it gets so hot," said Luis Coronell, 33, who regularly takes his 10-year-old nephew, Andres, to play on turf field because there are no real ones in the neighborhood.

"You bring the kids out here, but you can't do anything because the turf gets too hot," Coronell said. "This turf is a killer."

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NYC Parks Exposé

The New York Post has a two part exposé on the blatantly skewed maintenance in city parks:

"Comparing the manicured lawns of Manhattan's Central Park to the barren, rat-infested eyesore of Spring Creek Park in Brooklyn, the disparity is shocking."

Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Queens Borough President Testimony

Below is the testimony given by Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall at the NYC Council Committee on Parks and Recreation's Oversight Hearing - "Should Ridgewood Reservoir be Preserved as Wetlands".

Testimony of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall Before NY City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation – June 19Th, 2008

Good Morning members of The New York City Council, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Foster, Commissioner Adrian Benepe from the Department of Parks and Recreation, and other distinguished guests. Before I begin, I would like to thank The City Council for holding this Oversight Hearing and affording us the opportunity to voice our concerns regarding The Ridgewood Reservoir and Highland Park.

Let me first begin by saying that I oppose the Department of Parks and Recreation’s plans to convert the historic landmark into ballfields. Rather, I am a strong advocate to preserve the unique and important ecosystems that have developed in Ridgewood Reservoir. Ridgewood Reservoir and Highland Park total approximately 142.5 acres of woodlands, lakes, wetlands, and picnic areas and is located on the Brooklyn/Queens Border within Highland Park. The Ridgewood Reservoir is an important area for resident, migratory and nesting birds and can serve as a place for environmental study, bird watching or simply just a place to enjoy the wonderful fruits that mother nature has to offer. In addition, the existing topography of Highland Park is not only permissable to scenic and serene walks, but if reconfigured and properly maintained, this area could serve for the site of many different sporting events, and help discount the need to build additional sports facilities. Unfortunately, Ridegwood Reservoir holds the distinction of being one of the eight “Underdeveloped Destination Parks” to be completed under Mayor Bloomberg’s Plan. To that end, I support and recommend the following:

(1) Creation of an ecology research center and museum which would be available to students in the surrounding areas

(2) Preserving all historic natural areas and ensuring that they receive the same treatment as historical landmarks

(3) Installation of security lighting, new fencing, rehabilitation of walkways and railing, and the creation of a security system to protect the reservoir from unauthorized entry; and

(4) Establishment of an ongoing maintenance program for existing sports facilities located on Jamaica Avenue in Lower Highland Park as well as the four baseball fields located in Upper Highland Park.

In closing, I know I have support from the community boards as well various civic and sports related groups and the Parks Services Committee when I ask that we work together with the Mayor’s Office, The City Council and the Department of Parks and Recreation to save the Ridgewood Reservoir and restore Highland Park. Through a jointly collaborative and cooperative effort, I feel we can maximize the full potential of this storied piece of land. Thank you once again for allowing me testify on this important issue.

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