Below is the agenda for the next meeting of Queens Community Board 5. Click to enlarge:
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Katharine Jose of "Capital New York" wrote a really good piece about the reservoir and the struggle to preserve it:
Wilderness at the edge of Bushwick
By Katharine Jose
9:45 am Sep. 28, 2010
When something is left alone in New York, it usually falls apart, like Admiral's Row at the Brooklyn Navy Yards, or the shabby detritus of the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona-Park, and becomes something less than it was before. There's a place on the border of Brooklyn and Queens where neglect has led to something good, something bigger than the sum of the parts that were left.
On a 50-acre piece of land on the border between Brooklyn and Queens there is a three-basin reservoir that was once part of the Brooklyn water-supply system, and that hasn't been touched at all in more than 20 years, though it has been neglected for far longer. Inside the chain-link fence around it is an impossible landscape: thick forest, wet meadows, a small lake ringed with reeds; the Ridgewood Reservoir has been restoring itself to its original state for decades. From the one-and-a-quarter-mile path around the basins, the place smells, sounds and looks like the marshes on the coast of New England. And it's virtually unknown.
It's an unlikely secret, considering it is located just across Vermont Place from the large and popular Highland Park. Construction on the first two basins of the reservoir, as a place to collect water flowing from streams in Queens and on Long Island, began in 1856. A third basin was added later, but when Brooklyn joined Manhattan to become part of New York City in 1898, the borough had access to a superior water supply, from the Croton Reservoir in Westchester. The last time the Ridgewood Reservoir was used to store water was during a major drought in 1965. The outer basins were drained in 1989, and it has essentially been sitting there, right next to the Interboro (now Jackie Robinson) Parkway.
In the last five years or so, and particularly since the Bloomberg administration's PlaNYC was introduced in 2007, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has been testing out human-reclamation plans, the most recent of which would fill in one of the basins in order to build baseball fields. For the relatively few people who live nearby, for hikers and birders and people who run or walk their dogs on the path around the reservoir, the idea of disturbing the site in the service of something so mundane is an unmitigated travesty.
Read the entire article here.
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The following was just published in the Times Newsweekly:
Keep Reservoir As Natural As Possible
Times Newsweekly 9/23/10
Editor's note: The following letter was originally sent to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Alexander B. Grannis.
Dear Commissioner Grannis:
I am writing to urge you to support the continued evolution of the Ridgewood Reservoir in Queens as it returns to a forest ecology. This is more educational and economical land use than new sports facilities.
In recent years, I have led walking tours that focus on Brooklyn's historical water supply and its symbiosis with Queens. The walks begin at the end of Conduit Avenue in Brooklyn, follow Force Tube Avenue and ascend the terminal glacial moraine to the edge of the Ridgewood Reservoir in Queens, with marvelous views to the south.
The reservoir is the most visible element of this walk. It marks the historical and ecological symbiosis of the two counties in the late 19th century - one rural and higher, the other urban and lower. Over the years, it has been fascinating to observe the regrowth of vegetation in the reservoir bowl.
This can be a unique nature study area for young people on both sides of the borough divide.
Dr. Jack Eichenbaum
Queens Borough Historian
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