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

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Highland Park Facilities Usage

There have been ongoing public discussions about the fate of the Ridgewood Reservoir since 2007. Much of the argument for destroying the unique habitats within the reservoir by the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation has been the claim that Highland Park needs more baseball fields. Despite the fact that there are currently 6 poorly maintained fields within the surrounding Upper and Lower Highland Park, Park Commissioner Benepe continues to push for more athletic fields.

We recently acquired the facility permit forms for Highland Park for the years 2007 and 2008. The purpose was to analyze field usage to determine if, in fact, those claims were correct. What we found was startling, but not totally unexpected. The usage calendar had even more holes in it than the parks department's arguments for destroying the reservoir habitats. To give you an idea; the longest period of time in one day that the parks department appears to give out permits for is 8am - 11pm. That was for a carnival, but for baseball games the longest period was from 8am - 10pm or 14 hours. Let's do the math:

6 ball fields x 14 hours = 84 hours per day of available time.
84 hours x 7 days = 588 hours of available time per week.

The earliest date that the department of parks scheduled use of the fields was on April 13th, 2007. The latest date was on September 29th, 2007. That is a total of 170 days or 14,280 hours available for ball field usage per season.

According to the 2007 permits issued by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, a total of 410 hours were approved. That means that just 2.8% of the season's available ball field time was approved for usage.

For the calendar year 2008, 753.5 hours of usage were approved. Note that of those 753.5 hours, 210 hours were allocated for a carnival held on the lower fields, so in reality only 543.5 hours were approved for athletic events. Field usage for the year 2008 went up 1% giving us a total of 3.8% facility usage for that season.

These results are especially disturbing given that Mayor Bloomberg is willing to spend $40 million dollars on a project that nobody in the community wants, is unnecessary, but more important, is at a time when he is also discussing closing firehouses and cutting the budget for the NYPD.

Click here to download a copy of the permits (PDF file).
Click here to download a copy of the facilities usage for 2007 and 2008 (PDF file).

*I just received the following email:

"For 6.5 years I worked in either Sunset Park or the Bus Command Center which is located at the end of the Jackie Robinson Pkwy. On my way to work I entered the pkwy at Vermont Place and on my way home I exited at Cypress Hills St. In other words I drove past upper Highland twice a day. I also never had weekends off. The only time the 2 fields in upper Highland were consistently used was Sunday afternoon and then it was adults (25+) not kids that were using it."

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