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

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.

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