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

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Reservoir Plans

The Daily News just published an article about new plans for the Ridgewood Reservoir:

Ridgewood Reservoir plan on tap
By Lisa L. Colangelo

Daily News Staff Writer

Thursday, February 19th 2009, 1:48 AM

City Controller William Thompson has signed off on the first phase of work at the Ridgewood Reservoir.

The Parks Department can move ahead on a design contract for benches, lighting, fences and steps on the perimeter of the site, Thompson said Wednesday.

The revamped agreement also calls for three conceptual plans for the reservoir area. One of those must be dedicated to passive recreation. And all work must be reviewed by community members and advocates.

"Under this new agreement, we have ensured that the public will have a say in the ongoing design and construction process of the rest of the reservoir each step of the way," Thompson said.

Some advocates want the 50-acre reservoir site, now filled with dense shrubs, trees and wetlands, to remain a natural site. They balked at one Parks Department plan that would include filling in one of the basins and clearing some brush for fields.

But other community groups have lobbied for more aggressive renovations, saying the area - located next to Highland Park on the border of Brooklyn and Queens - desperately needs ballfields.

I should point out two recent developments from Mayor Bloomberg that run counter to any plans that call for the development of the reservoir basins. First, on January 29th his PlaNYC 2030 office sent out a press release regarding local wetlands protection laws. It is entitled:

Mayor Bloomberg Releases PlaNYC Report On Protecting New York City Wetlands

The Report - New York City Wetlands: Regulatory Gaps and Other Threats - Fulfills a Commitment made in PlaNYC

One would get the impression that the Mayor truly wants to strengthen the protection of all our wetlands above and beyond the state and federal laws. Unfortunately, we have discovered that the city had ALREADY designated the Ridgewood Reservoir as an inland wetland, yet they are still willing to ignore that protection in the name of baseball fields.

Second, the Mayor also just sent out another press release on the effects that climate change will have on NYC. That report is entitled:

Mayor Bloomberg Releases New York City Panel On Climate Change Report That Predicts Higher Temperatures And Rising Sea Levels For New York City

The following is from the report:

"“There is a growing recognition of the need for adaptation to climate change in urban areas, and this initiative of Mayor Bloomberg’s puts New York City in the forefront of this global effort.” said Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies/ Columbia University Earth Institute and co-chair of the NPCC.""

Dr. Rosenzweig has been mentioned on this blog in the past regarding the heat problems associated with artificial turf, as well as, a study with Stuart Gaffin on the "Urban Heat Island Effect" in NYC. In its current state, LANDSAT images show that the vegetation in and around the Ridgewood Reservoir basins make in the coolest inland location within the five boroughs. Past recommendations to the mayor by Doctors Rosenzweig and Gaffin rely on the cooling effect of trees and other vegetation to mitigate increasing heat issues throughout New York City.

Finally, the assertion that the area needs more ballfields is without basis. Our group monitored the use of the existing fields during the course of the baseball season and they were frequently unused on beautiful Spring mornings. Below are two Google Earth map with the ballfields highlighted. One is the Highland Park area, the other is Prospect Park and surroundings. The satellite images are the same altitude and cover the exact same area. The neighborhoods surrounding Highland Park and the Ridgewood Reservoir show 18 ballfields. Prospect Park and the surrounding area show 13 ballfields. The next closest area to Prospect Park with ballfields is 2 miles away in Red Hook. Maybe the parks department should drain Prospect Lake to turn that into ballfields.

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