Here are a few photos of the renovated pathway:
All photographs by Matt Schicker
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The parks department's PR office somehow even managed to get an article into "Broadway World":
Photo Flash: NYC Parks Cuts Ribbon on Highland Park Renovated Paths
NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White today joined Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, Assembly Member Rafael Espinal, and members of community boards in both Queens and Brooklyn, to cut the ribbon on renovated paths through Highland Park and around the park's Ridgewood Reservoir. The $6.92 million construction project was funded by Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC initiative and also includes new fencing, pathways, lighting plantings. Scroll down for photos!
"Highland Park has long been one of the City's best places to catch a glimpse of native and migrating birds or to enjoy the changing foliage," said Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White. "Thanks to nearly $7 million invested by Mayor Bloomberg, it is now a great place to exercise, and even more accessible to all New Yorkers. I encourage everyone to visit and see all that their local parks have to offer."
After active use of the Ridgewood Reservoir stopped in the 1960s, it became home to a unique ecosystem, including more than 100 species of birds. The first phase of improvements, including new lighting, restored pathways, wheelchair-accessible entry points, and new fencing, was completed earlier this summer. Parks is currently working with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation on plans to decommission the reservoir's dam, required as a result of new safety regulations instituted Hurricane Katrina. Conceptual master plans are also being created for further improvements to park infrastructure, including possible locations for pedestrian networks, active and passive recreation, playgrounds, and educational opportunities.
Highland Park and the Ridgewood Reservoir sit on a ridge with dramatic views of the Rockaways, Atlantic Ocean and nearby communities. It was acquired in pieces over time by the City of Brooklyn, Parks, and The Highland Park Society. The first purchase was in 1856 when the City of Brooklyn purchased the Snediker's cornfield to start the construction of the 50-acre Ridgewood Reservoir. This Reservoir was important as the population in Brooklyn was growing and there was a need for more water. The Reservoir was built in 1858 and held 154 million gallons. In 1889, the Reservoir was the last link in the aqueduct system that originated in Nassau County. In 1891, the land surrounding the reservoir, which in now Upper Highland Park, was purchased by the City of Brooklyn. Jurisdiction for this parcel was given to The Highland Park Society. This parcel helped to buffer the Reservoir from the pollutants generated by cemeteries and garbage plants.
In 1894, an iron fence was built around the Reservoir and ornamented with electric lamps.
The Reservoir operated as a water supply for Brooklyn from 1858 to 1959. In 1917, New York City Tunnel #1 was completed and brought water from north of the city, and in 1936, Tunnel #2 was completed. With the development of the Catskill aqueduct for New York City, Basins One and Three were drained. From 1960 to 1989, Basin Two was used as a backup water supply for Brooklyn and Queens. In 1990, the Department of Environmental Protection decommissioned the site. In 2004, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced its transfer to Parks, as well as plans to develop the site into a public park.
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This is from the Queens Courier:
Ridgewood Reservoir reopens after renovations
By Liam La Guerre
Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 5:08 PM EDT
The Ridgewood Reservoir has been resurrected.
A crowd of politicians, civic leaders and members of the community oversaw the reservoir’s grand opening on Tuesday, which heralded the completion of phase one of the site’s revitalization plan.
The nearly $7 million renovation included construction of new fencing, lighting, repaving of pathways and the addition of a handicap-accessible ramp.
“This is a historic spot for Queens and more importantly the Ridgewood community,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. “It’s a natural resource that many didn’t know about because it wasn’t accessible. Now it’s more accessible.”
The reservoir, situated near the Brooklyn-Queens border in Highland Park, was used to supply water to Brooklyn starting in the 1850s. Three basins make up the more than 50-acre space, which was officially decommissioned in 1990, according to the Parks Department.
The plan to revitalize the reservoir started in a few years ago as a part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative.
Representatives from the Department of Parks and Recreation presented three concepts of a master plan for the reservoir at a public meeting hosted by the Park Services Committee of Community Board (CB) 5 on June 27.
The presentation showed dramatic changes to the reservoir to allow more people to enjoy the green space.
In the first concept plan presented, the public will only have access to the third basin, while the other basins will be locked and opened only for maintenance. There will be stone paths weaved through basin three and the gatehouse between basins one and two will be restored and turned into a ranger station. There will also be viewing platforms around basin two, where a large pool of water currently sits.
The second plan includes all modifications from the first, but adds access to the first basin. A rock climbing wall and a meadow area will be placed in basin three, a boardwalk in basin one and a boat dock in the second basin.
The final concept features the most access. This plan will contain all the mark-ups of the first two plans, plus baseball fields, a comfort station and a waterworks-themed adventure playground in the third basin.
Despite the ideas to renovate the reservoir, many people in community are opposed to a complete transformation of the site.
“What we see as wetland portions, we’d like them to be preserved that way,” said Vincent Arcuri Jr., chair of Community Board 5.
There is no money allocated to the master plan as yet and current ideas have to be reviewed and presented to the community board again.
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From the Queen Chronicle:
Reservoir changes cheered by public
by Michael Florio, Chronicle Contributor | Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 10:30 am
The first phase of upgrades to Highland Park, which features restored pathways, new lighting, new fencing and wheelchair-accessible entry points are completed.
“The improvements are well done,” said Vince Arcuri, chairman of Community Board 5. “Very nicely done for a phase one project.”
The hope is that the improvements will lead to a friendlier visit for pedestrians going to the Ridgewood Reservoir, which is now part of the park.
“With these improvements, the reservoir is a great place for exercise or a nature walk,” said Zachary Feder, Parks Department spokesman.
Park visitors seem to be enjoying the changes.
“It’s really good for running, the tracks are smooth so they are very comfortable,” said Brooklyn native and runner, Christopher Sanchez. “The stairs look wonderful and are great for working out.”
David Flowers, a Brooklyn resident and frequent visitor said the changes make it good for runners. “It looks a lot better than other parts of the park,” Flowers added.
Enrique Quinones has lived near the park for 26 years and frequently visits. “So far it looks pretty good,” he said. “It is good for bicycles, skating, running, walking and just exercising. The stairs are good for a workout.”
Area resident, Freddy Tonno, enjoys one major feature of the improvements. “It is much cleaner then before,” Tonno said. “It’s great.”
Phase one is just the start for improvements at the reservoir.
“The master plan looks to me to be a 25- year plan to be completed in phases,” Arcuri said. “The next phase is to breach the existing walls of the reservoir.”
The Parks Department is now finalizing designs to decommission the reservoir’s dam, which is required by state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations, Feder said.
The Parks Department’s master plan will not only help reconstruct the Ridgewood Reservoir, but will improve the park’s infrastructure while giving back to the community, the spokesman said.
“With varying degrees of development from plan to plan, potential amenities include pedestrian networks, opportunities for active and passive recreation, new playgrounds, educational opportunities, as well as an abundance of preserved natural areas,” Feder added. Each phase would require funding.
While the first phase did make some improvements to the park, there is still more to be done.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) believes there is a need for more of an environmental draw. “As of now you cannot walk in the reservoir area, but you will be able to one day,” Crowley said.
The councilwoman thinks that the reservoir attracts people. The more that are attracted, she said, the more people will enjoy the paths and will also provide a peaceful setting for runners and families.
Crowley also hopes to see an environmental center focused on the park’s bird life that will be implemented after January. Crowley is hopeful it can be completed by next year.
Arcuri believes the park needs to ups its security.
“My only concern is there is no security to keep an eye on things,” he said. “They need a system of park enforcement police.”
He also wants a pedestrian bridge added. This would prevent people from having to cross a busy street to get from the parking lot to the reservoir side of the park.
“A pedestrian bridge would be good and efficient,” Arcuri said.
Park visitors also have suggestions they would like to see implemented. Tonno wants mile markers so he is aware of how far he has walked.
Sanchez thinks the main park needs “fixing up. Also more barbeque stands to bring the family.”
Quinones has a dream of seeing a public swimming pool added to the property.
The reservoir is located on the Brooklyn-Queens border and became a part of Highland Park a few years ago.
“I encourage people to take advantage of it before the seasons change,” Crowley said. “It’s beautiful.”
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