From the "Queens Chronicle":
Reservoir rehab deadline extended
by Michael Gannon, Associate Editor
Thursday, December 1, 2011 12:00 pm
Completion of the first phase of construction at the Ridgewood Reservoir is being pushed back to next summer based on safety hazards uncovered by the city’s Parks Department in recent months.
“After debris was removed from the site, several unfavorable conditions were uncovered, including structurally unstable paths and walls that will require extensive technical revision,” said a spokesman for the Parks Department in an e-mail on Wednesday.
“As always, safety is of paramount concern, and correcting these conditions will require that we postpone laying asphalt replacement until next spring,” the e-mail continued.
The changes mean completion of phase one, which included a resurfaced trail, new lights and fencing, will be pushed back slightly from its original spring 2012 date.
Many residents of Ridgewood and surrounding areas want to see the site of the former water basins kept as they are and allowed to return undisturbed to their natural state.
The aim would be to establish a nature preserve open to hikers, nature lovers and educational groups.
Others are calling for at least part of the site to be converted to public athletic fields.
The future of the site could depend largely on the results of hydrological and soil tests being conducted by the city.
Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5, told the board’s Parks Committee Monday that those test results were scheduled to be turned over to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation as of Nov. 30.
Wednesday’s e-mail said the hydrology report is being reviewed by city personnel, and will be shared with the state as soon as it is completed, and that the report must be completely analyzed before determining specifics for phase two.
Approximately $3 million is available in the city’s FY 2013 budget for a second phase.
The testing might or might not support the claims of those who want the state to declare the site a wetland. Such a designation would make it far more difficult to construct ballfields.
The reservoir sits in Highland Park on the border with Brooklyn. It was built as a reservoir in 1858 and continued to serve Brooklyn until 1959, when basins one and three were drained.
Basin 2 served as a backup supply for Brooklyn from 1960 to 1989, and was decommissioned in 1990. It was transferred to the Parks Department in 2004 with the intention of turning it into a public park.
The major point of contention between the city and CB 5 is the planed installation of a four-foot fence around the reservoir as opposed to the six-foot one CB 5 wanted.
“Four feet won’t protect people or the reservoir,” said Steven Fiedler, chairman of the Parks Committee. “But we’ve already lost that fight.”
In other business at the meeting, the Parks Department announced a $750,000 initiative to renovate and expand the bocce courts at Juniper Valley Park.
Jane Couch, a department landscape architect, told the committee that they will add metal-framed, shading canopies at the ends of both existing courts. Both existing courts may receive minor upgrades or repairs as deemed necessary during construction, and a third court will be constructed on the site of an existing shuffleboard court.
Andrew Penzi of the Parks Department said construction could start by next fall and would take about one year to finish.
I don't think that the Department of Parks and Recreation can be trusted to carry out an unbiased hydrology report.
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Thursday, December 1, 2011
From the "Queens Chronicle":