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

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Times Newsweekly article

The following article appeared in the Times Newsweekly:

Parks Dept. Mulls Plan For Athletic Fields At Reservoir

by Robert Pozarycki, Times Newsweekly 10/25/07

Though plans for a renovated Ridgewood Reservoir remain in design, the Department of Parks and Recreation is reportedly considering a plan to clear one of the basin’s three chambers to make way for numerous athletic fields.

A spokesperson for the Parks Department informed the Times Newsweekly that the agency is deliberating a proposal to bring “active recreation” such as baseball and football fields to the new 50-acre park that is being created on the reservoir site straddling the Brooklyn/Queens border.

As part of a $50 million overhaul, the Parks Department is reportedly considering a plan to bulldoze as many as 20 acres of trees from the Ridgewood Reservoir to create new athletic fields. The plan was met with criticism from some in the community, who observed that the area—which has developed into a natural wetland since the reservoir was taken off line since 1989—should be left predominantly as a nature preserve.

In order to do that, as indicated in published reports, the department would need to clear one of the reservoir’s chambers, which have evolved into a tree-lined natural habitat in the years since the Ridgewood Reservoir was taken out of the city’s water system.

The spokesperson cautioned that “nothing is set in stone,” adding that the department continues to look at all input received during several listening sessions held in Queens and Brooklyn on the site. The representative noted that the department has determined there is “still an interest in preserving a reservoir” while adding other activities.

The $50 million renovation of the Ridgewood Reservoir is part of a nearly $400 million initiative launched by the city to renovate eight “regional parks” throughout the five boroughs, including nearby Highland Park, where a new 60-acre “active recreation center” is proposed to be constructed.

Despite the reported plan, one local activist maintained that many in the community would rather see the Ridgewood Reservoir preserved as a nature preserve with “passive recreation.”

Paul Kerzner, president of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, observed that such sentiment was expressed by many in attendance during listening sessions regarding the reservoir site. He stated that the addition of walking and nature trails to the current reservoir along with other minor improvements would provide sufficient activity for all visitors.

“We don’t have to have organized sports,” he told the Times Newsweekly, adding that the reservoir as a natural habitat would provide local schoolchildren and residents with an ample opportunity to learn about their environment.

“[There are] very few meadow areas that kids can go to learn about nature,” Kerzner added, advising that the Parks Department “leave it alone. Don’t tamper with Mother Nature. It’s great the way it is. I hope [Commissioner Adrian Benepe] would take a second look at this.”

Queens Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano indicated to this paper that the advisory body would also examine the Parks Department’s proposal and would consult with their colleagues at Brooklyn Community Board 5 (which shares jurisdiction with the reservoir) over the proposal.

“A lot of people visting [the new park] will be coming from Brooklyn,” he said. “I believe we would want to work as closely as possible with Brooklyn Board 5 and their residents as far as helping the Parks Department plan what should be done there.”

Giordano added that the community board would consider holding a public hearing on the matter in the near future.


The Ridgewood Reservoir was opened in 1858 and initially served as the primary fresh water source for the then-city of Brooklyn. The basin was named for the town in present-day Nassau County from which the water was funneled in.

Ridgewood, Queens and Ridgewood, Brooklyn gained their names from the reservoir, while several local streets in both boroughs—including Conduit Boulevard/Avenue and Force Tube Avenue—were named for the devices that piped the fresh water to the basin which laid below the roadways.

At its peak, the reservoir held over 154 million gallons of water, enough to provide drink to Brooklyn residents for up to 10 days. The basin was used regularly until 1959, when New York City converted it into a backup water supply.

After the reservoir was taken completely out of the water system by the Department of Environmental Protection in 1989, the land remained dormant through 2004, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an agreement that transferred the 50-acre property from the DEP to the Parks Department. By then, the area had evolved into a natural wetland and habitat.

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1 comment:

parnell said...

The article is very confusing.

They describe the reservoir site as a seperate park, most everywhere else it is now referred to as part of highland park.

The article states that parks proposes a $50 million "renovation" of the reservoir site. Most everywhere else they refer to $46 million, available to refurbish all of highland park. Which is it?

Where do they propose a 60 acre "active recreation center??

My guess is the 22 acres they want to carve out of the reservoir is to be combined with 38 acres from somewhere else in highland park.

Citizens should not have to guess what government is up to. That is a sure recipe for more debacles like ferry point park. It is our $$$ they are working with.

The parks dept. seems to have a plan so advanced they are are already sending men out to survey the site. If so, those proposals should have been posted on their website long ago so that citizens could examine them.