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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Lead Turf

Here's another article illustrating the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation's poor decision making process and disregard for the health of the general public:

Lead in turf shuts East Harlem field

By Frank Lombardi

Daily News City Hall Bureau

Monday, December 22nd 2008, 7:25 PM

An East Harlem soccer field has been closed after elevated lead levels were detected in the synthetic turf installed five years ago, park officials said Monday.

The exact cause of the lead contamination at Thomas Jefferson Park, at First Ave. and E. 113th St., is not known, according to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

But Geoffrey Croft, a park advocate and frequent critic, blamed the lead contamination on the city's use of a type of synthetic turf that includes a cushion of pulverized tires, known as crumb-rubber infill.

The field was fenced in and closed Wednesday, although a running track around it remains open. The field will be reopened when the turf is removed and replaced.

"Health effects from previous exposures are unlikely," said Assistant Commissioner Nancy Clark.

Park officials said they began testing Thomas Jefferson Park's fields after two similar fields were closed this year in Newark. Tests on five other fields with the same product came back negative.

Here's the original article.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Meeting Date

The next meeting of the Highland Park-Ridgewood Reservoir Alliance will be held on Friday, Jan 9th at 7PM at the Ridgewood Democratic Club.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Updated Video Link

I just discovered that the website "Veoh" hosts video at a much higher quality than "Youtube" so I updated the video link in the sidebar.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Queens Courier Article

Here is a belated Queens Courier article about the August 12th tour with Congressmembers Nydia Velazquez and Edolphus Towns. At a recent community board meeting, a city representative alluded to the fact that the Department of Parks & Recreation will be submitting new plans to the comptrollers office. That design will still include clearing some of the forest and creating ball fields. Comptroller Thompson had rejected a previous plan.

The Queens Courier
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 4:26 PM EDT

Congressmembers tour Ridgewood Reservoir

By Marianna Nash

Congressmembers Nydia Velazquez and Edolphus “Ed” Towns visited Highland Park on August 12 to tour the Ridgewood Reservoir, which fell out of use in 1989 but has since developed a diverse variety of species and reverted to woods and wetlands. The two were joined by reporters, community organizers and activists, several of whom were led down into two of the three basins by Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and the park’s Natural Resources Group Chief Naturalist Mike Feller.

A debate has arisen over whether to preserve the three-basin reservoir or build public ball fields in the third basin, which lacks the diversity and indigenous species of the other two. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030, which allocated $50 million for the Ridgewood Reservoir alone, aims to transform eight underdeveloped park properties into athletic facilities.

“One of the key goals of PlaNYC, the Mayor’s far-reaching plan to fight global warming and create a more livable city, is to ensure that every New Yorker lives within a 10-minute walk of a park or open space. Highland Park in Queens is one of eight large parks being redesigned to help achieve this goal. As with all of these projects, the City holds listening sessions with community residents to incorporate their input. The design of this great park is in the beginning stages - we have not been able to begin the design process or do an environmental assessment without the design contract," said a Department spokesperson.

The Parks Department's design contract was rejected by Comptroller William Thompson, who urged them to consider the environmental implications of the proposal. Thompson also co-wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times with Robert Kennedy Jr. last May, favoring preservation. Other city politicians have rallied behind the preservation cause, including Borough President Helen Marshall, who testified at a City Council hearing on whether to preserve the reservoir.

Congressmembers Velazquez and Towns supported preserving the three basins, though Velazquez has also called for improvements such as fences and lighting.

“We learned about this in 2007 when the mayor said the city was allocating $50 million for a development project. I was contacted by community residents from both boroughs,” said Velazquez, whose district covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens. “Some people do not want to destroy the ecosystem, so they immediately contacted me and [Towns]. They want the money to improve Highland Park so that it can be used. For the past 20 years, much of Highland Park has fallen into disrepair. Only a small fraction is being used right now.”

Velazquez cites concerns about public safety, there being no working lights neat the reservoir, despite walkers and joggers.

“The city administration should use the funding to preserve and improve the park without destroying the natural ecosystem. The point is to make this reservoir a tourist destination, as well as an education center where schoolchildren can come and learn about the species of birds and trees. There is so much potential for this incredible forest.”

The community organizers on the tour included Paul Kerzner, president of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association.

“It reinforced what I already knew, which is that the area is pristine. I would like to see the Parks Department build a comfort station, fix the lights and the walking areas. On the Northeast side, there should be another comfort station and parking area. If the Parks Department did just that, that would be the first stage in getting people to use this natural setting.” It was too early, he added, to consider building sports facilities, an idea he called “atrocious.” Instead, he suggested, the reservoir “should be fixed up and brought back to its original splendor.”

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Daily News Article

The following article was just published in the New York Daily News. It appears to be another example of oversight issues at the Department of Parks & Recreation. Perhaps the City Comptroller's Office should do an audit of this arrangement:

Park turns into parking lot but where's the 900G?

By John Lauinger

Daily News Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 14th 2008, 7:02 PM

Show us the money.

That's the rallying cry of a Flushing watchdog group that wants to know what the city Parks Department has done with almost $900,000 in revenue from a deal that turned 2.5 acres of Kissena Corridor Park into a gravel parking lot.

New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens agreed to pay $24,943 a month for the once-wooded lot as part of a three-year lease set to expire at the end of the year.

"Everyone would like to know how this money has been utilized," said Chuck Wade of the Kissena Park Conservancy West. "We don't have any kind of written statement about the receipts and the expenditures."

The advocacy group formed shortly after the public learned of the deal, which permitted the hospital to bulldoze the land into 400 temporary parking spaces while it builds a parking garage.

The deal also allows the hospital to make payments in "services instead of cash.

In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski could not say how much the hospital has paid to the city over the last three years.

But she detailed a host of upgrades to Kissena Corridor Park that used the hospital's funding.

The city paved several walking paths and replaced sections of fencing, she said. It also hired three maintenance workers and bought maintenance equipment.

Over the course of the lease, another employee was hired to oversee the playground during spring and summer months.

The funding also provided for upgrades to other parks within Community Board 7, Lewandowski said, including a major project to prune and fertilize trees in the Kissena Park arboretum.

"This gave us the funding to move forward and get that done," she said.

The hospital will finance an environmental restoration of the land once the lease expires.

Camela Morrissey, the hospital's vice president for public affairs, said it has "no plans" to apply for an extension, as long as it can receive necessary permits for its parking garage.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Link Added

The New York City Department of City Planning has some interesting information available on their website. I just added a link in the sidebar to the "Environmental Review" page. From there, you can access recent Scoping Documents and EIS Documents. I'm not completely surprised that neither the NYCDoCP website, nor the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation show any documents relating to the proposed development of Ridgewood Reservoir. I'm guessing that either Commissioner Benepe is trying to sneak this project passed at the last minute or all the negative press has given the DoPR cold feet.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Upcoming Meeting

There will be a meeting of the Highland Park-Ridgewood Reservoir Alliance this Friday, October 7th, at the Ridgewood Democratic Club starting at 7PM. All are welcome.

Directions to The Ridgewood Democratic Club at 6070 Putnam Street. The entrance is the first door on Stier Place. A map is at the bottom of this page.

From Brooklyn:
Take Eastern Parkway until it ends at Bushwick Avenue.
Make a right turn onto Bushwick Avenue and move to the left lane.
Bear left onto the Jackie Robinson Parkway (formerly Interboro)
Exit at Cypress Hills Street (2nd exit)
At the top of the exit, make a left onto Cypress Hills Street
At the bottom of the hill make a left onto Cooper Avenue
Make a right at the 5th block (62nd Street) 62nd street ends in 2 blocks at Myrtle Ave Make a left turn onto Myrtle and the make a right turn (about 50 feet) onto Fresh Pond Road (just at the end of the underpass; Fresh Pond starts at Myrtle and there is a carpet store on the right)
About 1/4 mile, 1 block after the M train station, Putnam Street is on the left.
It’s one block after the train station

From Manhattan:
Take the LIE
Exit to The Grand Central Parkway East (towards LI)
Stay in the right lane and exit onto the Jackie Robinson Parkway (formerly Interboro)
Exit at Cypress Hills Street
At the top of the exit, make a right onto Cyrpress Hills Street
At the bottom of the hill make a left onto Cooper Avenue
Make a right at the 5th block (62nd Street)
62nd street ends in 2 blocks at Myrtle Ave
Make a left turn onto Myrtle and the make a right turn (about 50 feet) onto Fresh Pond Road (just at the end of the underpass; Fresh Pond starts at Myrtle and there is a carpet store on the right)
About 1/4 mile, 1 block after the M train station, Putnam Street is on the left.
It’s one block after the train station

From The Bronx:
Take the Triborough to the Grand Central Parkway and follow directions above

Parking can be sometimes be difficult in the area

By Subway:
Take the M train to the Fresh Pond Station or the L train to Myrtle Avenue and then go upstairs and take the M to the Fresh Pond Station
Walk one block to Putnam and then left onto Putnam.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nature program at the Ridgewood Reservoir

Bugs Plus 3000%

The first nature program scheduled for the Ridgewood Reservoir

This coming Friday, September 26th at 6:30pm, scouts from Ridgewood will look at bugs 3000 times their actual size thanks to insect expert Steve Nanz.

Mr. Nanz will photograph the insects and the images will immediately be displayed on a large laptop computer screen. Kids of all ages will get to see a surprising array of our local critters as never before. For the purpose of this program, the insects are lured to a large white sheet by a portable black light. An example of the process can be seen here. Mr. Nanz will talk about the color and shape of the various insects and their importance to the diversity of the local environment.

This scout program is the first nature program to be held this year in conjunction with the Highland Park-Ridgewood Reservoir Alliance. HPRRA is a group of concerned citizens trying to preserve the reservoir from development and, instead, create a protected urban nature preserve and education center. The Ridgewood Reservoir has been called the "Jewel of Brooklyn and Queens."

All are invited and the event is free to the public. For more information contact Tom Dowd: tomcdowd2 [AT]

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Audubon Magazine Article

The National Audubon Society's "Audubon Magazine's Web Exclusives" current issue features an excellent article about the Ridgewood Reservoir:

Where the Wild Things Are
Local New York city activists fight to preserve an abandoned reservoir in New York City that has sprung to life.
By Jessica Leber

As devoted New York City birders, Heidi Steiner and Rob Jett thought they had visited all the reliable places to spot migrating songbirds or nesting waterfowl within their well-trodden urban stomping grounds. But in early 2007, in a city known for baring all, they discovered a place they had missed—an obscure haven known as the Ridgewood Reservoir. This former city water supply was abandoned nearly two decades ago, and during its neglect, nature repossessed the 50 acres. Now the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is exploring how to convert it into a park—one that’s part nature reserve and part athletic fields. Steiner and Jett, along with a group of community activists and nature enthusiasts, soon embarked on a campaign to preserve the full extent of this unlikely wilderness.

You can read the article in its entirety here.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Commissioner Benepe Strikes Again

The following article was just published in the Staten Island Advance. It appears that parks commissioner Adrian Benepe has struck again, bulldozers and all. This gives one an idea of what could be expected if he is allowed to "develop" the Ridgewood Reservoir basins.

Bike path plan has some enthused, others rattled
by Jamie Lee

Thursday August 28, 2008, 2:06 PM

The city Parks Department has commissioned a bike trail to be built through western LaTourette Park.

The bike path is meant to not only provide a safe environment for cycling enthusiasts, but also to help promote the area as an appealing attraction for tourists and locals alike.

Beginning at the end of Old Mill Road near St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Richmond, the path winds three-and-a-half miles through woods bordering Great Kills before eventually emerging near the Richmond Avenue-Forest Hill Road intersection in New Springville.

But local conservationists say that, unfortunately, the construction, once so promising, has already begun to destroy pieces of the area's fragile ecosystem.

In a statement released last week, the Sweetbay Magnolia Conservancy alleges that creation of the roadway "has had numerous negative impacts on existing freshwater and tidal wetlands, at least two state-endangered and/or threatened plant species, and a steep slope in the area of a wooded ravine."

And it would appear that the state Department of Environmental Conservation agrees with those allegations, or at least some of them.

After following up on the Sweetbay complaint, the agency issued an administrative summons "to Ravine Contruction for violating the conditions of the Tidal Wetlands permit issued to the Department of Parks & Recreation," according to DEC spokesman Arturo Garcia-Costas.

"The violation involves clearing and grading beyond the scope of the permit," continued Garcia-Costas, who added that the "full nature and extent of the violation is under investigation."

Under the permit, a number of special conditions were put in place to minimize the impact on the wetlands and natural areas through which the bike trails are designed to run.

According to Garcia-Costas, any violation of these conditions represents an unacceptable situation that could damage these sensitive ecosystems.

But according to Sweetbay botanist Richard Lynch, some of that damage has already taken its toll.

"If this were in Central Park, it wouldn't look like this," Lynch said. "The permit allows them to work in a 20-foot-wide space, but in places it stretches out 30, 40, even 50 feet."

Lynch added that the company was also "bulldozing in sensitive areas" and had uncapped a small landfill, used in the 1940s and 1950s, leaving the debris scattered along the trail's edges.

But the real victims are native plant and animal life, according to Lynch.

The botanist noted that a large portion of Gamma Grass, or Tripsacum dactyloides, was completely removed during the construction.

The remaining portions of the grass, listed in the state as threatened, have also been put into peril by the re-routing of the Hessian Spring, a freshwater source that is now being channeled through PVC piping and a bed of crushed stone.

The state-endangered colony of American strawberrybush, the largest pocket of the Euonymus Americanus in the state, has also been put into severe danger.

"The clearing and grubbing activities associated with the road construction have destroyed many hundreds of stems," said Lynch, who estimates that over 70 percent of the cluster has been eradicated. "Other colonies were destroyed by being filled over with soil taken from road-cutting excavations."

In all, Lynch feels that the roadway is currently being "constructed without the kind of environmental protections warranted."

When contacted about the situation, the Parks Department declined comment, except to say that "the ticket requires the contractor to meet with DEC on September 3. At which point, we will know more about the specific violation for which the ticket was issued."

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tour of the Reservour

The "Forum South & West" posted a really good write-up of a recent tour at the reservoir. Present at the tour were Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Congressman Ed Towns.

Journalist Nicole Turso writes:

"A forgotten reservoir reclaimed by the wilderness has become a natural wildlife and flora preserve where residents, community groups and elected officials gathered on Tuesday for a tour and to petition for its integrity."

Read the entire piece here.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Then and Now

The New York Public Library has an aerial photograph of Highland Park and the Ridgewood Reservoir taken in 1924. I created a small movie to show the location of the original Keeper's House and Pump House. The Pump House still exists but the parkway run through the area where it appears the Keeper's House was built. There also seems to be a large building in the area that is now baseball fields.

The following two illustrations are from "The Brooklyn Water Works and Sewers. A Descriptive Memoir D Van Nostrand 1867".

The next two illustrations are from:

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Page Update

I've added a new element to the right sidebar. You can now download a PDF file of the draft environmental assessment of the reservoir. The link is at the top right and looks like this:

Download Draft Environmental Assessment

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Rappelling into the basin

On Tuesday morning, August 12th, I attended a tour at the Ridgewood Reservoir. Present for the walk were Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Congressman Ed Towns. Rep. Anthony Weiner was also scheduled to be present, but I guess something came up because he didn't show. You can watch a 6-minute video of Velazquez and Towns' comments before the tour posted here.

As part of the tour, Queens Parks Commissioner Lewandowski and the park's Natural Resources Group Chief Naturalist Mike Feller brought the congresspersons and several others down into basin 3 (the southwestern basin). This is the largest of the three basins and the one the parks department is eying for development. I pushed my way to the front of the group that was brought down into the basin where we were taken directly to a small meadow near the center of the basin. Mike Feller dug a small hole with a shovel and showed the group the layered earth; the top soil was very dark brown and covered a lighter section of what he called "puddling clay". He explained that because of the shallowness of the top soil most of the locust and birch trees in that basin that surrounded us would easily be toppled naturally, and in a short time. I gathered that that was their rational for a plan that included removing said trees. I asked him why it was, then, that there were relatively large maples and sweetgums within both basins 1 & 3. He explained that they, too, had weak roots systems and would also topple. I followed with, "Does that mean that under the soil and clay is bedrock? He said, "No" that it's glacial till. Mike never answered the question whether it was possible for mature hardwoods to grow in the basins, despite the fact that there are several areas where one can find very large sweetgums, maples and cottonwoods.

When I returned home, I researched "Glacial till" and discovered that nearly all of Long Island (Brooklyn and Queens) sits atop glacial till. I also sent a letter to a certified arborist and horticultural consultant and asked:

Does the fact that the basins rest on glacial till preclude the growth of healthy, mature trees?

I learned that:

"...tree failure depends on numerous factors - climatic, diseases and decay within trees, natural or anthropogenic soil disturbances and certainly shallow soils may be one of them." In addition, "trees along the Belt Parkway - Bay Parkway area (BK) finds numerous Robert Moses era Willow oaks at a height of 45-ft growing upon nutrient poor highly alkaline sandy soils with a minor layer of top soil and grasses. Towering oaks are even found across neighboring Forest Park, existing on the terminal moraine made up of glacial till."

The Ridgewood Reservoir basins could indeed be located on top of glacial till, but that does not mean that the trees are in danger of falling. Under the guidance and recommendation of NRG and Mike Feller, within the last year the Department of Parks & Recreation has authorized the deposition of thousands of yards of nutrient poor, rocky-sandy glacial till, 3-4-ft deep covering a few acre tract of the Kissena Corridor West adjacent to New York Hospital. This glacial till became the foundation upon which some 4,000 + young trees were planted by students under the DoPR sponsored 1-million tree planting initiative. Their intent within the Corridor is to establish a mixed stand forest, similar to what may be occurring naturally in the reservoir. The tree species planted were indeed oaks, tulips and sweetgums, to name a few.

It is important to note that Commissioner Lewandowski and Naturalist Feller never lead the group through any of the forested areas of the basin, just the small meadow. I got the impression that they wanted to get us in and out as quickly as possible without the congresspersons looking around too much. Does their misleading dog and pony show in the basin indicate an intent to remove trees, no matter what the community demands?

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Breaking Ground - 1856

The following was published in the "Brooklyn Daily Eagle" on August 1, 1856. The entire, very detailed article can be viewed here:

The Introduction of Water

The Ceremony of Breaking Ground.

Speeches of Mayor Hall, Rev. Drs. Bethune, Kennaday, Storrs, and Johnson, and Hon. Nathan B. Morse, &c., &c.

The work of introducing water to the city, was formally commenced yesteday and under the auspices of the gentlemen appointed as Directors of the Nassau Water Company. Our readers are familiar with the history of the water question and the recent arrangements between the city and the Nassau Company. The Nassau Water Company in chartered by State Legislature with a capital stock of $3,000,000, with the privilege of increasing it to $6,000,000 - the city being authorized to subscribe $1,300,000. The company have contracted with H. S. Well, & Co., to prepare the reservoirs and aqueducts, build engine-houses, lay down 120 miles of pipe through the city, set 800 hydrants, &c., in consideration of the payment of $4,200,000. The contract guarantees the delivery, for consumption, of 10,000,000 gallons of water per day within two years, and 10,000,000 additional one year after. The capacity of the works now to be commenced is equal to 40,000,000 gallons, with the exception of the steam power. which is designed for the delivery of just one half that amount, which is probably as much as will be required for the next twenty years. The plan is to contract works on a scale amply sufficient for the present time, yet capable of being enlarged to any desired extent, as the demands of the city shall increase. The supplies of water available for this purpose are abundant. The present sources of supply are four ponds, all located within a distance of nine miles from Brooklyn, supplied by springs, and capable of furnishing 250,000,000 gallons daily. It is only necessary to extend the canal, or means of conducting the water, to procure additional quantities. The quantity necessary for the supply of New York is only 17,000,000 per day.

The principal reservoir, of a capacity equal to 150 000,000 gallons, will be about six miles from Brooklyn, near the Cypress Hills Cemetery, where there is already a natural basin, covering forty-eight acres of ground, elevated one hundred and fifty feet above the level of the sea. From this point to Baisley's Pond, six miles further from the city, the water will be conveyed in a covered aqueduct: and beyond the pond, by means of an open canal. From the reservoir to the city, iron pipes will be used. A second reservoir to contain 20,000,000 gallons, will be located on a hill one hundred nod seventy-five feet above tide ...

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Brooklyn Water Works Memoir

In 1867 the "Board of Water Commissioners" for the city of Brooklyn commissioned the memoirs of a former engineer for the Brooklyn Water Works. Google has made the document available as a PDF file. Entitled "The Brooklyn Water Works and Sewers. A Descriptive Memoir" it can be found at this link.

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NPR Story Follow-up

This is a follow-up from NYC Park Advocates regarding the NPR story:

High Temps on Turf Fields Spark Safety Concerns

See No Evil

Last January NYC Park Advocates (NYCPA) released a parks department (DPR) internal document which said they were moving away from using recycled tires in artificial turf fields. “We are suspending the use of rubber infill synthetic turf in all Parks Capital Projects,” said the design directive, dated Jan. 14, 2008.

However, within hours after the memo was revealed the city replied it had made a mistake. “I incorrectly made a blanket statement,” said Deputy Commissioner of Capital Projects Amy Freitag. “There is no change in Parks Dept.’s policy on synthetic turf.” (Freitag left the agency a few weeks ago)

For many years the parks commissioner had touted the "benefits" of using recycled rubber, stating this literally hundreds of times in press releases and in public statements. In today's NPR story (below) the DPR finally publicly admits they have canceled contracts using recycled rubber for infill and are moving away from it. Even after it was revealed the city recently cancelled a contract for St. Michael's field in Queens which is costing the taxpayers an additional 40% ($ 500,000) to switch to virgin rubber, the parks commissioner himself still can't bring himself admit this is due to health concerns.

Parks Fake Grass"

The contractor told a NYCPA source the switch was directly related to the controversy. The switch has also delayed the fields' opening by many months.

So Now We're Not Supposed To Play On Them

In another major development a spokesperson for the Synthetic Turf Council now advises the public in today's NPR story not to use these fields when its sunny and hot. "I don't think anyone in our industry would suggest its a good idea to play on a surface that that's hot." When addressing what to do when it gets that hot, the spokesperson said, {people} "need to reschedule or consider alternate surfaces to play on when its sunny." I.e when athletic fields are used the most. One of the main "reasons" why this product is being installed the public is repeatedly told is that the public gets more playing time. Interesting.

This statement echoes first deputy parks commissioner Liam Cavanagh comments made a few weeks ago regarding the dangers the extreme heat these fields produce when he said, "The temperatures can get very high during the heat of the day. But people are smart. They are not going to use a place that is uncomfortable to play on."

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Turf Story on National Public Radio

NPR covered the artificial turf issue on this morning's "Morning Edition":

Morning Edition, August 7, 2008 · Schools and coaches love artificial turf because it's easy to maintain, and the field stays in great shape all year. But the air around synthetic turf can reach 160 degrees on a 90-degree day. New York City has canceled contracts for turf that contains recycled tires, due to concerns that the rubber adds to the heat-absorbing effect.

Listen to the entire story here.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Visit to the Water Works - 1858

The following article was published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It has an interesting, scientific bend, but also makes some political commentary and observations at the end of the article.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: April 10, 1858

Mastodon Remains.

Having heard of the recent discovery of some bones of the Mastodon in the excavations made for the Brooklyn Water Works at Baisley's Pond two miles beyond the Village of Jamaica, we availed ourselves of a favorable opportunity to visit the locality, curious to witness the disinterment of the remains of so interesting a monster, or if this might not be, at least to be the conditions under which they were deposited. The Brooklyn and Williamsburgh Aqueduct is to be supplied from a series of short watercourses, whose source is near the southern base of the range of Highlands which passes along through the central portion of Long island, two to three miles back from it.

The strip of country is exceedingly well watered, and the streams gushing out from the sand are pure and never failing. They have long been used to supply the power for the saw and gristmills of the region, and, when choked in their course by dams, or natural obstructions, they have spread out into ponds, which, when cleared of their vegetable accumulation, are made convenient reservoirs, with cleans natural bottoms of sand.

Baisley's Pond is the nearest of these sources of supply, and a covered conduit is constructed to lead from it into the open canal, which receives the water of more distant sources. At the juncture of this conduit with the canal, the latter gives place to the main conduit, through which the waters are conveyed five miles to the pumping engines, which are to be stationed below the great reservoirs on Edgewood Hill. Before the pond was drained for cleaning, it was a long, shoal collection of water, covering some thirty-five acres, overgrown with water lilies, and its banks wiry with peat muck. A living stream of tester runs through it, which for generations past had turned a mill at its outlet. Another mill is still running higher upon the same stream. The water being removed, the bottom was found to be a deposit of peat – its upper portion matted together with the roots of the water lilies. These, as large as a man's arm, were intertwined with one another in a coarse network, difficult to break into with the mattock and the pick. By their great number, by their surface covered with tubercles or knobs, from which spring the rootlets and the stems of the plant, and by their occurring in the midst of so dense a carbonaceous deposit, one could not but be reminded of those similarly shaped fossil stems so abundant in the stratum of clay which underlies almost every bed of mineral coat - fossils now called stigmariae which though converted into sandstone or fire clay, prove, by their being traced it several instances to their junction with erect head trunks, to have been the roots of plants which furnished a considerable portion of the ancient coal beds. Under the lily root, the peat, half or wholly converted into muck, formed a rich black deposit, reaching in many places to four feet in thickness. All this is in progress of being broken up and carted beyond the limits of the pond. The amount thus removed is estimated at about 200,000 cubic yards at this pond alone. It is spread upon the adjacent sandy fields as waste, the farmers near by not appreciating its value. An efflorescence of sulphate of iron or coppers forms upon some portions of the heap, and the smell of sulphuric acid is plainly perceived in passing over them.

Around some of the springs s ferruginous deposit is observed from the decomposition of the sulphuret of iron dispensed through the sand. Except with these substances nothing of interest has been met with in clearing out the pond until the discovery of the mastodon bones. These were found in the upper portion of the pond more or less imbedded in the top of the sand and beneath three and a half or four feet of the partially decomposed peat. The workmen had shoveled up and carted away a quantity of decayed bony matters before the discovery of several huge molar teeth, well preserved by the protection afforded by their hard enamel, caused attention to be directed to the spot and search to be made in the heaps removed for other portions of the skeleton. Pieces of bone were found, but in too imperfect and decayed fragments to be preserved. But the teeth were sufficient to identify the animal. These were four in number the largest about nine inches on the crown, divided into six traverse ridges, the length of the tooth from the crown to the extremity of the root length from six to seven inches. They are probably the teeth of the same species of mastodon, the Giganteus, which has been found under almost precisely similar circumstances in several localities in this State, in New Jersey and Connecticut, and several of the Southern and Western Slates. The most famous specimen for its size and state of preservation was found in 1845 near Newburgh. The skeleton measured twenty-five feet in length and twelve feet in height. The same year no less than six skeletons of the same animal were found in Warren County, New Jersey, six feet below the surface also beneath a rich mud which filled a pond. The most of the bones crumbled to pieces on exposure to the air. Within the ribs of the best preserved specimen was found, together with the clay, a quantity of vegetable remains - some seven bushels of what Lyell supposed had served for the food of the animal.

Specimens of it, examined for him by the microscope in London, proved to be twigs of a coniferous tree, probably the white cedar, which is still a common product of such swampy places as the animal frequented. Discoveries of these remains have rarely been made east of the Hudson River. 'They are more common at the brackish springs in Ohio and Kentucky, which are still the resort of the deer, as they were in former times of the Buffalo and other large wild animals. The bones of those and of the mammoth found with them have given to one of the localities in Kentucky the name of Big-Bone Lick. The Mastodon bones are almost as abundant as are those of living species; and they are by so means the only specimens of these which are extinct. For with them are found strange species or the elephant, horse, &c. The extreme eastern haunts of these huge creatures appear to have been near the Connecticut River. A bone was found some years ago in Sharon, Conn., a tooth at Chesire, and a vertebral bone at Berlin, twelve miles southwest of Hartford. The new locality on Long Island is thus upon the eastern margin of their range. It would be interesting to determine, if possible, whether these animals have been contemporaneous with man; but there is is nothing in the mode of occurrence of their remains to decide the question either way. There are no data for fixing the period required for the growth of the vegetable deposit which commonly covers their bones. The Indians of the North West, it is stated by Prof. Mather, have a tradition of the existence of such animals; that they fed on the boughs of trees; that they did not lie down, but leaned against a tree to sleep Their name for them meant tree-eaters. Their teeth, which are all molars, indicate that such was the nature of their food.

But these speculative questions upon the nature of their deposits and their fossils are not the only subjects of interest that attract the attention of a visitor to this locality. He finds himself in a farming district, comparatively thrifty, and remarkably convenient to the greatest markets. The soil, naturally poor and sandy, is made productive by manure; much of it carted back as return loads by the wagons, which convey the produce of the farm to Brooklyn and New York. But that which the farm itself should return to the soil is sadly neglected. The richness of the barnyard manure evaporates in the sand, is washed out by the rain, while the dry refuse is returned to the field. Compost making appears to be an unknown art, and the immense resources on hand in the piles of decomposing peat are quite disregarded. That the value of their stock of animal manure may be trebled by judicious mixing of the muck is not in the experience of these farmers. Rumors, it is true, have reached them that there is value in the article; but they regard it as it lies spread out around their farms, with a shy aspect, as fish look upon a tempting bait placed in their way - something very good if they knew how to take it, but which may catch them if they lake hold of it the wrong way - so they judiciously wait to see the result of an experiment made by one bolder than the rest, who has covered a field of several acres, eighteen inches deep, with pure muck, upon which he intends to plant potatoes. The result of this experiment, with nothing even to neutralise the acidity of the sulphate of iron, is not likely to add to the estimation of the unappreciated muck. What an opportunity is there afforded for a skillful agriculturist to secure these 200,000 cubic yards of fertilizing material, and with it enrich the sandy fields for which it may be made so excellent a nutriment. What excellent opportunities for the cultivation of the cranberry, a crop but little known in this region, though well suited to it, and probably made with ease more remunerative than any now cultivated.

Another subject that came to our notice in this excursion upon the line of the Brooklyn Water Works is the furnishing of the vast amount of iron pipes required for the conveyance of the water from the pumping engines so the reservoirs, and thence to the city and throughout the streets of Brooklyn end Williamsburgh. The quantities required arc nearly as follows: 5 miles of pipe 3 feet in diameter, and the same
length of 30-inch pipe; 4 miles of 20 inch pipe; 12 of 12 inch; 36 miles of 8 inch; and 64 miles of 6 inch diameter. With all resources of iron ores, skill and capital, a considerable proportion of this pipe is imported from Glasgow, Scotland. Not merely do we fail to furnish the rails for our roads, but even the cruder castings, the manufacture of which involves less heavy capital, and would seem to demand less costly skill, cannot be furnished by our own works to the extent required, and in the production of the pipe made in this country there is doubtless consumed a large amount of Scotch pig iron.

Such facts reflect grievously upon the policy adopted by our Government of refusing for a proper time the protection required to establish our iron works upon an independent basis; and they cannot fail to make themselves felt and appreciated by those farming communities in the vicinity of the numerous furnaces, bloomeries, forger and rolling-mills, which, it appears from the late report of the Iron Association of Philadelphia, are now lying idle, many of them altogether abandoned, throughout the Middle and Western States. The harvests of foreign fields are in demand to sustain the labor involved in the production of the iron consumed around these communities; while the value of their own farms depreciates with those of the iron mines and works, which should insure to them the market for their products.

In the use of iron pipes for conveying water, an oxidation of their inner surface takes place, causing a waste of the metal, and injuriously affecting the purity of the water. A process has been adopted in Manchester of coating the pipes with coal tar, from which, by partial distillation, the naptha and other highly volatile products are first expelled. The pipes thus protected have, after a trial of several years, successfully withstood the action of water; and the process in regarded as so satisfactory, that it is now introduced to some extent upon the pipes furnished to the Brooklyn Water Works. The application of the coal tar is made at the foundries, after the pipes have been well cleaned from the moulding sand. They are healed to about 300 ° F., when the coal tar is laid on. It spreads evenly over the iron, and as this cools, firmly adheres to its surface. The laying of the pipes is rapidly extending throughout the principal streets. The 30-inch mains are already covered on the southern extremity of Clinton Street, in South Brooklyn; and before another Winter our neighbors across the East River will be as liberally supplied with the pure element as we are on this aide are with the Croton. -

N. Y. Tribune.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Common Council Plans - 1853

Brooklyn's Mayor Lambert penned an article for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It appears that the the city of Brooklyn was one step closer to breaking ground on the reservoir system that they envisioned.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: June 23, 1853

Outline of Plan For Supplying the City of Brooklyn With Water

The Common Council of the city of Brooklyn, in pursuance of an Act of the Legislature entitled "An Act for the supply of the city of Brooklyn with Water, passed 3rd June, 1853," have provisionally adopted a plan for such supply, of which the following is an outline:

The sources from which the Water will be obtained are East Meadow Brook, in the town of Hempstead, Parsonage Creek, also in said town, and intermediate streams, which have been, or may be hereafter purchased for said purpose, and which are estimated to furnish Water sufficient for the supply of a population four times as great as that contained in the city of Brooklyn at the present.

This analysis of the Water, which has been made, shows it to be purer than that supplied to any other city in in the country. (Boston only excepted.)

Suitable Dams or Reservoirs will be constructed on sold Streams, and the Water will be brought thence in a conduit or partly in a conduit and partly in an open canal, at or near to the base of the line of hills forming the back bone of the island, where the pump well will be located, and the necessary steam engines and the machinery erected to elevate the Water to a Reservoir, to be located upon the summit of said line of hills, which Reservoir will be of ample capacity to contain a supply beyond the daily wants of the city; and from thence the Water will be distributed by Iron Pipes throughout the city, as the wants of the citizens, and the location of the population may require.

The Conduit or Canal will be constructed of suitable capacity to carry Water sufficient, for at least four times our present population.

The estimated cost of bringing from the farthest point named, a sufficient supply of Water for the present wants of the city, including the costs of streams, land, damages, conduit pumps, well, steam engine and machinery, reservoirs and eighty miles of distribution pipes, hydrants and all other things necessary to complete the work in the best manner, is Four Milllions Dollars.

The additional cost as the population of the city increases, will consist of such further steam power as might be necessary to elevate the additional quantity or Water which might be required, and of such further distribution pipes as would be necessary to furnish the same to the consumers.

It is estimated that the cost of supplying a population double our present numbers will, when required, add to the original cost of the work, One and-a-half Millions of Dollar,

Edward A. Lambert, Mayor

Joseph Hegeman, City Clerk

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Historic Ridgewood Reservoir

Over the next few weeks I will be posting historical news accounts of the creation of the Ridgewood Reservoir. I thought it would be appropriate to begin with the legislative process starting in 1853. In addition, Riccardo Gomes has a great website called "The East New York Project" with lots of images and information about the reservoir here. Images were taken from "Documents and Plans Submitted By The Water Committee, to the Common Council of the City of Brooklyn, For The Year 1854" available as a PDF file on Google Books.

The New York Times: April 28, 1853

Brooklyn City

Water for Brooklyn - In the Brooklyn Common Council, on Monday evening, Alderman Marvin, a Chairman of the Water Committee, made a report stating the position in the legislature of the Brooklyn Water Bill, and also of the Williamsburg Water Work Bill, expressing an opinion that without great exertion being made, the bill of the latter would pass the Senate at the extra session. In connection with this report was presented a statement of the water question for publication and general circulation. This statement thus alludes to the policy of supplying a city like Brooklyn with water by a private company, and the eventual sale of the work. To the corporation, as provided for in the Williamsburg Water Works company's bill. "They believe that the experience of other cities which have been supplied by private companies, has been generally unsatisfactory, and that sooner or later the public sentiment has demanded that the work should be under public control, and contemplating the probability that sooner or later the city would purchase the work, the bill in question has been deemed especially objectionable. The terms under which Williamsburg or Brooklyn may purchase the works are such as would afford a large profit to the company, and would wake it an important object for them to secure a sale.

Those terms are 20 percent, premium if purchased within five years; 19 percent in six years; 18 percent, in seven years, together with such sums as added to the receipts after deducting the expenses, shall be equal to 10 percent annual interest. There is, as we suppose, no reasonable doubt, that if the city of Brooklyn were now prepared to undertake this work, the amount of money necessary for the purpose could be borrowed upon bonds of long date, at 5 percent interest, making a difference of 5 percent annually against the city if the work is undertaken by a private company and subsequently purchased by the city. If the work should be constructed for the capital asked by the company, say $3,000,000, it would cost the city:

20 percent premium, and 25 percent extra interest to purchase at the end of five years, say 45 percent

19 percent premium, and 30 percent. extra in. Terest at the end of 8 years is 49 percent


18 percent premium, and 35 percent, extra in. Terest at the end of 7 years, is 53 percent


17 percent premium, and 40 percent extra in terest, at the end of 8 years is 57 percent


38 percent premium, and 45 percent extra in at the end of 9 years is 61 percent


15 percent premium, and 50 percent extra interest, at the end of 10 years is 65 percent

And so on increasing annually $20,000 per annum beyond the ordinary interest, which the city would have to pay, at the end of 20 years the premium would be reduced to 5 percent, but the extra interest would amount to 10 percent, so that the price which we should have to pay for the water works upon an estimate of cost of $3,000,000, would be 105 percent premium and extra interest, or $3,150,000. The gross cost would be the

Original expenditure

100 percent interest 20 years

5 percent premium
150,000 $6,150,000

Less any surplus which might remain of water rents after paying annual expenses, &c., aside front the large cost which would have to be borne by the city of Brooklyn in purchasing the rights and property of this company, as compared with the cost if undertaken at once at our own expense, it will be seen that there is no inducement to construct the works economically, substantially or with a view to the convenience or usefulness of the city."

The report and statement of the committee were adopted.

The New York Times: July 14, 1853

Brooklyn City

Another Water Plan for Brooklyn - An adjourned meeting of the Common Council was held Tuesday evening, at the City Hall, Alderman Harteau of the Sixth Ward, in the Chair. At a late hour of the session, Alderman Marvin, of the Fourth Ward, asked permission to offer a preamble and resolutions relative to introducing water into Brooklyn, which being granted, the following was submitted:

Whereas, The plan submitted for the supply of the city with water has not been approved by the vote of a majority of the citizens; and whereas, the defeat of such plan is believed to be attributable to the objections entertained by the people to several portions of the Water Act; and, whereas, it is desirable to have the said act so amended as to obviate the said objections, and to obtain the concurrence of the people in the speedy adoption of a proper plan to supply the city with water; therefore,

Resolved, That application be immediately made to the Legislature to amend the said act in the following particulars. viz:

1. So as to provide for the appointment of six Water Commissioners by the vote of twothirds of all the mem bers elected to the Common Council prior to the submission of the plan to a vote of the people, whose names shall be published, together with the plan proposed for the supply.

2. So as to limit the amount of money to be borrowed to four millions of dollars.

3. So as to require contracts for the construct!on of the Water works to be given to the lowest responsible bidder.

4. That the Water Commissioners shall not be bound to proceed with the execution of the plan approved, if it shall satisfactorily appear to them that the sources of supply are insufficient

5. That the 36th section be so amended as to insert in the twelfth line, after the word Brooklyn, the words, " by a two third vote."

Resolved, That His Honor the Mayor be requested to proceed to Albany, and to use all necessary means to procure the immediate passage of such amendments to the Water act.

The above was adopted by unanimous consent, Alderman Dayton having been excused from voting.

Mayor Lambert took the 1 o'clock train this (Wednesday) morning for Albany, with the amended bill in his pocket.

copyright © The New York Times

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Another Artificial Turf Article

The following was just published in the Daily News:

Concerns grow over phony turf as Rufus King Park opens new field
By Barry Paddock

Monday, July 28th 2008, 5:15 PM

Despite calls for a moratorium on artificial turf, city officials cut the ribbon on Queens' newest synthetic sports field last week.

But amid health and environmental concerns about recycled rubber, the city is using alternate materials for future fields.

The new field at Rufus King Park in Jamaica features controversial "crumb rubber" made of tiny bits of shredded tires, which acts as artificial dirt, or infill, between synthetic blades of grass. An average soccer field uses 27,000 recycled tires.

"It's obviously completely against [Mayor] Bloomberg's phony greening of New York," said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates. "They're taking away grass. It's absurd. Grass produces oxygen - it cleans the air."

Read the article in its entirety here.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Parks Department is Making More Friends

It sounds like the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe has made another "friend". This time it's Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro.

"Molinaro -- who refuses to sign off on the Parks Department's proposed configuration for two roads that will cut through the park, connecting Richmond Avenue with the West Shore Expressway -- is taking his opposition to the public, using harsh words to describe city officials. He said he plans to take his "road show across Staten Island," giving his presentation to community and business groups in the borough."

You can read the entire article here.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

High Line Park

The New York Times just posted an excellent Op-Ed piece about Manhattan's planned High Line Park. It's one more example of the lack of vision within the city department of parks:

High Line, Low Aims
By Sean Wilsey

LATE last month, city officials and the group Friends of the High Line presented the final design for part of the $170 million High Line park that is under construction on the West Side of Manhattan. The High Line, an abandoned elevated railway that once carried freight to, and sometimes inside, warehouses, is already a fanciful forest of industrial decay and native plants, and it has the potential to be the most delightful and unconventional green space in the country.

And yet I was struck by the banality of the plans unveiled. The idea, come to at great expense and after much fanfare, is essentially to plant some native shrubs (the same shrubs that have been colonizing the structure since the last train ran on it, in 1980) and thread a path through them. I’d been hoping for a utopia. Instead, I got sumac. The plan’s most exciting element is a big glass panel that would allow people on 10th Avenue to look up and see the pedestrians on the High Line. This, plate glass and sumac, provides the city with absolutely nothing it doesn’t already have in abundance.

What a waste. The High Line is in many ways a metaphor for the heterogeneity of New York, and an ideal plan should reflect that. It joins two neighborhoods that have been in historic opposition: Greenwich Village, the historical heart of bohemia, and Midtown, a center of global capitalism and corporate culture. To span the gulf, it runs through a largely defunct slaughterhouse district, a gallery district, low-income housing projects, the center of gay Manhattan and heaps of old warehouses. Can’t this be a place to dream?

Read the entire piece here.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Jerome Park Reservoir Hearing

Just another reason not to trust the city's alleged plans for the Ridgewood Reservoir. The following was just published in the Daily News.

Hearing set on Jerome Park Reservoir blasting for water treatment plant
By Bill Egbert Daily News Staff Writer
Thursday, July 10th 2008, 5:10 PM

With residents going ballistic over the city's plan to use blasting for a water project in their area, three local community boards are joining for a public hearing to let them blow off steam.

Community Boards 7, 8 and 12 are sponsoring a public hearing July 15 to address the Department of Environmental Protection's recently announced plan to use blasting at the Jerome Park Reservoir in part of the controversial Croton Water Treatment Plant project underway at Van Cortlandt Park.

"There is a real fear that something major could go wrong," said Fernando Tirado, district manager for Community Board 7. "All the comments we're getting from the community so far have been negative."

Residents and community leaders are outraged at the dramatic departure from the plan assessed in the project's Environmental Impact Statement, which stipulated that the shaft by the reservoir would be dug by the raised-bore method - drilling up to the surface from the underground water tunnel - with the rubble removed through the tunnel to the Van Cortlandt site to be trucked away from there.

The new plan calls for four months of blasting down from the surface and trucking out the 9,000 cubic yards of debris through neighborhood streets.

DEP said it expects the blasting to be cheaper and faster than the method promised in the statement, but that's little comfort to local residents, said Tirado.

Citing overruns that have nearly tripled the cost of the multi-billion-dollar project, construction mishaps at the reservoir, and federal allegations of mob connections, Tirado questioned whether setting off explosives in a residential neighborhood next to three high schools and a college is the wisest way for DEP to start economizing.

"This seems to be a very cheap cost-cutting measure that doesn't take into account the interests of the community," Tirado said

Residents are invited to express their interests and concerns from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the faculty dining room of the Lehman College Music Building.

DEP is also expected to give testimony justifying the departure from the statement and outlining noise mitigation measures it plans to put in place, such as enclosing the work area with a 20-foot-high sound barrier like the one surrounding the blasting work already carried out at Van Cortlandt Park.

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Another City Fighting Fake Turf

Residents of Highlands Park, San Carlos are also under assault by artificial turf planners. Check out their blog.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Calvert Vaux Park meeting

This is another one of the mayor's "destination parks" that is destined for disaster if we don't make our voices heard.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Commissioner's Response to Turf Temperature

New York City's Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe has come up with a creative solution to the unacceptably high temperatures associated with artificial turf - put up a sign. A story with the header "City posts warnings of health risks to those playing on scorching fields" just appeared in Metro NY. Is the next step going to be an instruction sheet for treating third degree burns on children?

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Monday, July 7, 2008

More Artificial Turf Data

The following article is from the New York Daily News:

Parks' fake grass can reach a scorching 162 degrees
By Jeff Wilkins And Elizabeth Hays
Saturday, July 5th 2008, 10:00 PM

It's like walking on hot coals.

Artificial turf installed in city fields can heat up to a blistering 162 degrees even on a mild summer day, a Daily News investigation has found.

"My feet are burning! I had to dump cold water on my shoes just to walk around," Yannick Pena, 9, complained to his mom on a recent visit to Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx, where The News found the turf hit temperatures of 145 to 160 degrees on an 80-degree day.

At Staten Island's Greenbelt Recreation Center, where turf temperatures reached 149, park regular Diana Stentella, 58, wondered how kids survived the heat.

"When they play soccer here, do they have an ambulance to take the kids away?" Stentella said. "On a hot, humid day you would faint out here."

Over two mildly warm days last month, The News took surface temperature readings at five synthetic fields across the city accompanied by NYC Park Advocates, a group that has been critical of the fake grass.

At all five, temperatures at the synthetic fields soared roughly twice as high as at nearby natural grass ones, from a low of 144 degrees at the Greenbelt Recreation Center on Staten Island to a scorching 162 at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.

"It's sadistic that the city is installing a product which gets so hot and is actually expecting the public to play on it," said NYC Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft.

"Clearly, artificial turf presents many serious public health and safety issues that the city simply refuses to address," Croft said.

The scorching temperatures are just one of the nagging fears critics have about the turf, an infill made of recycled crumb rubber from old tires.

The city has installed the turf at nearly 100 parks and playgrounds across the city. An additional 68 projects are in the works.

Earlier this year, The News reported concerns that the millions of tiny crumbs contain heavy metals like lead and cadmium, as well as volatile organic compounds and other chemicals.

"This is very alarming," said Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum when told of The News' findings. "Now this, on top of the other questions we have. There needs to be a moratorium on these fields."

Despite the uproar, a city Department of Health study concluded this spring that the chemicals in synthetic turf fields cause no known health problems.

Health officials acknowledged fake fields can get excessively hot and can cause more heat-related problems, especially in children.

When confronted with The News' findings, the Parks Department also conceded high temperatures can be a problem at turf fields.

They said they were in the process of installing signs warning visitors of the dangers at fields across the city.

"The temperatures can get very high during the heat of the day. But people are smart. They are not going to use a place that is uncomfortable to play on," said Liam Kavanagh, first deputy parks commissioner.

Kavanagh also said the city plans to stop using the crumb-rubber infill because of excessive heat and switch over to a carpet-style turf.

One of the fields The News tested, in Macombs Dam Park, already has the new turf - and still tested as high as 160 degrees.

"My feet always blister coming out here. The bottoms of my shoes feel like melted rubber, it gets so hot," said Luis Coronell, 33, who regularly takes his 10-year-old nephew, Andres, to play on turf field because there are no real ones in the neighborhood.

"You bring the kids out here, but you can't do anything because the turf gets too hot," Coronell said. "This turf is a killer."

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NYC Parks Exposé

The New York Post has a two part exposé on the blatantly skewed maintenance in city parks:

"Comparing the manicured lawns of Manhattan's Central Park to the barren, rat-infested eyesore of Spring Creek Park in Brooklyn, the disparity is shocking."

Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Queens Borough President Testimony

Below is the testimony given by Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall at the NYC Council Committee on Parks and Recreation's Oversight Hearing - "Should Ridgewood Reservoir be Preserved as Wetlands".

Testimony of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall Before NY City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation – June 19Th, 2008

Good Morning members of The New York City Council, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Foster, Commissioner Adrian Benepe from the Department of Parks and Recreation, and other distinguished guests. Before I begin, I would like to thank The City Council for holding this Oversight Hearing and affording us the opportunity to voice our concerns regarding The Ridgewood Reservoir and Highland Park.

Let me first begin by saying that I oppose the Department of Parks and Recreation’s plans to convert the historic landmark into ballfields. Rather, I am a strong advocate to preserve the unique and important ecosystems that have developed in Ridgewood Reservoir. Ridgewood Reservoir and Highland Park total approximately 142.5 acres of woodlands, lakes, wetlands, and picnic areas and is located on the Brooklyn/Queens Border within Highland Park. The Ridgewood Reservoir is an important area for resident, migratory and nesting birds and can serve as a place for environmental study, bird watching or simply just a place to enjoy the wonderful fruits that mother nature has to offer. In addition, the existing topography of Highland Park is not only permissable to scenic and serene walks, but if reconfigured and properly maintained, this area could serve for the site of many different sporting events, and help discount the need to build additional sports facilities. Unfortunately, Ridegwood Reservoir holds the distinction of being one of the eight “Underdeveloped Destination Parks” to be completed under Mayor Bloomberg’s Plan. To that end, I support and recommend the following:

(1) Creation of an ecology research center and museum which would be available to students in the surrounding areas

(2) Preserving all historic natural areas and ensuring that they receive the same treatment as historical landmarks

(3) Installation of security lighting, new fencing, rehabilitation of walkways and railing, and the creation of a security system to protect the reservoir from unauthorized entry; and

(4) Establishment of an ongoing maintenance program for existing sports facilities located on Jamaica Avenue in Lower Highland Park as well as the four baseball fields located in Upper Highland Park.

In closing, I know I have support from the community boards as well various civic and sports related groups and the Parks Services Committee when I ask that we work together with the Mayor’s Office, The City Council and the Department of Parks and Recreation to save the Ridgewood Reservoir and restore Highland Park. Through a jointly collaborative and cooperative effort, I feel we can maximize the full potential of this storied piece of land. Thank you once again for allowing me testify on this important issue.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Urban Wilderness Community

While searching the Internet for something unrelated to the Ridgewood Reservoir I stumbled on an excellent urban nature blog. The name of the blog is "Nature Calendar" and there is a really good posting about the Ridgewood Reservoir issue written by Erik Baard here.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jamaica Bay Task Force meeting

I thought that the following information would be of interest as the Ridgewood Reservoir is a key component of the Jamaica Bay Watershed:

Jamaica Bay Task Force Meeting
Tuesday, July 1 - 6:30pm

Ryan Center

Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn


6:30 - 6:35: Introductions: Dan Mundy, Don Riepe (co-chairs)

6:35 - 7:00: Gateway NRA Resource Mgmt. Plan update - Doug Adamo, National Park Service

7:00 - 7:35 : Jamaica Bay Restoration Projects update - Len Houston, US Army Corps of

7:35 - 8:05 : Oyster Restoration in Jamaica Bay - Dan Mundy, JB EcoWatchers & John

McLaughlin, NYCDEP
8:05-8:15 : Nitrogen Abatement in Jamaica Bay - NYSDEC invited, no response as of date

8:15 - 8:35 : "Operation Clean Bay " - John Daskalakis, National Park Service

For further information contact
Don Riepe or Dan Mundy

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Press Release

The following is today's press release from the New York City Comptroller's office. It is very good news. Feel free to leave your comments on this post:

June 26, 2008

Jeff Simmons, (212) 669-2636


Citing concerns about the environmental impact, increased truck traffic, and the vendor selection process, New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. today announced that his office has rejected a contract by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to develop a portion of the Ridgewood Reservoir into sports fields.

In a letter to Parks’ Chief Contracting Officer, the Comptroller’s Office returned the contract “to allow additional time for your agency to respond to our concerns pertaining to potential scope changes due to environmental review uncertainties and for administrative issues.” You can view the letter at "".

Parks submitted the $3.3 million contract forged with Mark K. Morrison Associates LTD (MMA) for registration on May 29. The agreement called for MMA to provide landscape design services for the reconstruction of Highland Park at the Ridgewood Reservoir site in Queens.

Parks has been considering a $50 million “renovation” project that would replace a large swath of Ridgewood wilderness with sports facilities athletic fields, claiming that the project is necessary to help combat child obesity. However, Thompson has consistently urged the City to rethink its plans to develop the 50-acre site.

The contract rejection was based on a number of concerns. Thompson noted MMA’s proposal to partially or completely fill Basin No. 3 at the site would require 27,500 large truckloads of fill to be transported through the adjacent neighborhoods. Thompson said that even if this is partially filled, it would require about 11,700 large truckloads of dirt to be transported there.

“Either of these options would have significant negative impacts to the areas surrounding the park, which will have to bear the brunt of the noise, emissions and traffic disruptions for many years,” the letter said. “For comparison purposes, it took six years to bring 1.7 million cubic yards of fill to Ferry Point Park in the Bronx.”

Thompson also cautioned that Parks was in the process of meeting with agencies regarding environmental assessment issues, and that an Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) EAS could be included as a separate fee in any proposal. That information would help in determining whether adverse effects on the environment may be significant enough to warrant further analysis.

The Comptroller further questioned the selection process. The vendor was selected from among three participants through a quasi-competitive process. Thompson noted that changes to the design that may arise from the environmental and public assessments may significantly impact the vendor’s proposal.

“Given the sensitive ecological nature of the location, we strongly believe that the environmental assessment process must have maximum transparency,” the letter reads. “In that light, we are also concerned that it may be a conflict of interest to have the EAS vendor be a subcontractor to the architect, who has a vested interest in pursuing the construction.”

Last Thursday, Thompson testified at a New York City Council’s Parks & Recreation Committee hearing on the future of the Ridgewood Reservoir. Earlier, in an opinion piece published in The New York Times last month, Thompson and environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. warned against destroying “this extraordinary natural habitat” on the Brooklyn-Queens border.

“This plan flies in the face of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s widely hailed environmental blueprint, which bemoans the loss of the city’s natural areas,” they wrote. “The Parks Department’s own scientific consultants have warned against disturbing the reservoir, an area they call ‘highly significant for the biodiversity of New York City and the region.”

The reservoir was built in 1858 to provide drinking water to Brooklyn residents. It was converted as a back-up reservoir in 1959 and taken offline in 1989. Since then, trees, plants, turtles, fish, frogs and more than 137 bird species, including eight rare ones identified on the National Audubon Society’s “Watch List,” thrive on the land.

Comptroller Thompson maintains that the City’s money could be better spent improving Highland Park, immediately next to Ridgewood Reservoir. Highland Park has plenty of ball fields to serve its neighborhood, but they are in such deplorable condition that few people use them.

Additionally, Thompson recommends that the trail surrounding the perimeter of the reservoir be upgraded with benches and rest areas as well as signage calling attention to its unique flora and fauna, and believes the area around the reservoir should be opened for guided nature walks.


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