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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Helen Marshall Testimony

On June 19th, 2008, the New York City Council, Committee on Parks and Recreation held a public hearing. The purpose was to decide if the Ridgewood Reservoir should be protected as wetlands or allowed to be developed by the Department of Parks and Recreation. One of the strongest opponents to Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030 designs to develop this unique area was Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. Below is a transcript of her testimony:

"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, Ridgewood 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 as, 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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postulate82 said...

Why does Mayor think it is a good idea to build ballfields instead of preserving the ecosystems? We should preserve the environment and save the earth. Without them, there will be no ballfields. I am so disappointed with the Mayor. Ms. Marshall is right on.

Rob Jett said...

Some have suggested that the development money would be steered towards some of the mayor's friends.