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

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Phase I Article

The following article in the New York Daily News describes the first phase of the reservoir renovation:

With some back and forth, Queens park will get upgrade

by Lisa L. Colangelo
Daily News Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 6th 2010, 4:00 AM

Crumbling staircases, poorly lit pathways and missing fencing will finally get fixed during the first phase of renovations to the Ridgewood Reservoir-Highland Park site, a city official said.

But the devil is in some of those details, according to members of several local community boards who got a chance to comment on the plan at the Queens Borough Board meeting on Monday.

The site, which straddles the Queens-Brooklyn border, has been slated for a multi-year, $26 million upgrade.

However, it's still unclear whether that includes the addition of ballfields and recreational facilities in some areas. Community members and elected officials have lobbied the city to the keep it a natural green space.

The project's first phase, which has not yet gone out to bid, includes infrastructure improvements such as paving, lighting and fencing. It's expected to cost about $7.6 million, a Parks Department official said.

But Steve Fiedler, chairman of Community Board 5's parks committee, said the 4-foot fences planned for certain portions of the reservoir will be inadequate to stop vandals.

"I can step over a 4-foot fence," he said. "At least a 6-foot fence will deter someone."

Local residents would also like to see a wheelchair-accessible ramp near one of the parking lots, he said. In addition, board members asked the Parks Department to keep some of the 19th-century gates that date back to the early days of the now-decommissioned reservoir.

"They don't make this design in heavy wrought-iron gates anymore," Fiedler said.

But Kevin Quinn, a Parks Department representative, said the old fencing isn't up to snuff.

"We fell in love with it also," Quinn told the Borough Board, which cconsists of community board leaders and the borough president. "But the spacing of the pickets no longer meets code as a guardrail."

The fencing will rise as high as 6 feet in some sections, he said, but it will stay lower in other areas to provide better sight lines.

"Why spoil the view?" Quinn asked. "If someone wants to get down there, they will get down there. This size works for Central Park."

The Parks Department is expected to release three preliminary plans in the coming weeks for the second phase. One will focus on using the site for passive recreation, another for active recreation and a third for a combination of the two.

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