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

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Audubon Lecture update

I received two emails with information about Commissioner Benepe's presentation for the New York City Audubon Society.

Regarding plans to increase Department of Park & Recreation staff to maintain and protect any new capital improvements, he said there would be such provisions.

"He alluded to concerns expressed about the future of Highland Park/Ridgewood Reservoir in saying that there was some misunderstanding and premature conclusions about the plans for the development of that area. But he did not elaborate except to say that there would be public comment when the plan is made public."

I'm not certain how one can misunderstand or jump to conclusions when he said at the Arsenal meeting, unequivocally, that they would develop one basin and leave the other two natural.

Benepe emphasized the ongoing tree-planting program and the need for "active" recreation facilities (ball fields). He defended artificial turf installation against concerns of the possible carcinogenic effects of the crumb rubber used as padding. "No one raised the issue of habitat loss and the cooling effect of natural grass and the heat absorption of the artificial turf."

He was asked about the excessive mowing in Marine Park that reduces bird habitat. His response was that there was considerable community pressure to have "weedy" areas mowed because of insects and breeding animals. Benepe said he understood conservation concerns and asked the questioner to send him an e-mail detailing any complaints. The mowers and pruners have recently destroyed a brushy area along the fire road in Marine Park. It was always a good place to find sparrows and thrushes. I wonder what his idea is of "considerable community pressure". Perhaps, like the incident at Dreier-Offerman Park where they mowed down recently planted saplings, the grounds crew had little or no guidance.

I was a little disappointed that there didn't appear to be any Ridgewood Reservoir advocates present to ask pointed questions. It is understandable because Wednesday evening after work is inconvenient for most people and I can't complain because even I wasn't present.

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