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

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Commissioner Lewandowski's Response

Below is Queens Parks Commissioner Lewandowski's response to City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley:

A 4' fence for unobstructed views? Why doesn't the parks department have a problem with the 8' around the Hallett Nature Sanctuary in Central Park? For reasons yet to be uncovered, Ms. Lewandowski (and the entire parks department, for that matter) is deceiving the public. Also, Ms. Lewandowski is incorrect - The historic fences exist not only between basins 2 & 3, but also basins 1 & 2. Notice her carefully worded "replicated fences will be used at the overlook areas". You can be certain that their plan is to remove the remainder of the 1/4 mile of historic fences and ONLY install a few yards of replicas at the overlooks.

It doesn't take much thought to understand that placing a 4' fence around ANYTHING does nothing to protect it. When the parks department took over ownership of the reservoir from the Department of Environmental Protection in 2004, there were homeless encampments throughout two of the three basins. Parks employees eventually removed these people, cleaned up their mess of garbage and built an 8' fence around the three basins. More recently, the parks department also spent considerable man hours clearing out truckloads of garbage from illegal paintball courses which had been set up in the basins. Currently, maintenance crews repair holes in the surrounding fence on a weekly basis. Last year, representatives of the organization "World Science Festival" requested permission to enter the basins to carry out a scientific bioblitz. Park Administrator Debbie Kuha denied them permission on the grounds that it would be too dangerous for people to enter the basins.

For 6 years the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation have been restricting access to the Ridgewood Reservoir basins because of various safety concerns, but now think that it would be perfectly acceptable to remove an 8' protective fence and replace it with a 4' fence. Once that happens, if anyone decides to step over the fence and enter the wooded basins, there will be no patrols by either the Parks Enforcement Patrols or NYPD to monitor potential illegal activities. It would become the only 50 acre park in New York City without a law enforcement presence! What is now a unique, nearly pristine grouping of natural habitats will quickly devolve into an unenforced, hidden, no-mans land where anything goes. How long will it take before bodies begin to turn up in the basins? When crimes within the basins do become rampant, will Ms. Kuha and Ms. Lewandowski merely suggest that the forests be cut down and wetlands drained to eliminate illegal activities? Maybe that has been the plan all along.

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