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

More Fencing Debate

The following article was published in the Times Newsweekly:

CB5 Parks Chair: Proposal for Fencing Falls Short
Hopes study scuttles reservoir project build
by Patrick Clark

The Parks Dept has agreed to include historical replica fencing in its design for the Ridgewood Reservoir project, but the chairman of Community Board 5's Parks Committee does not think that the city agency is going far enough.

Parks' design for $7.6 million Phase 1 of the project originally called for standard 4'-high wrought iron or chain-link fencing throughout the reservoir, a fact which does not sit well with many community members, including Board 5 Parks Chair Steven Fiedler.

In a telephone interview with the Times Newsweekly, Fiedler said that the 4' fencing would do little to deter would-be trespassers, and replacing the historical fencing amounted to "throwing away our heritage."

In a letter dated May 28, City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley took up the cause, imploring Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski to preserve the architectural feel of the original fencing.

Noting that in the past, the city has used examples from the Ridgewood Reservoir to model replica fencing, Crowley asked Lewandowski to "ensure that a fence much like the one that was installed in Central Park in 2003 is placed along the main basin at the Ridgewood Reservoir."

In response, Lewandowski assured Crowley, in a letter dated July 15, that "replicated fence will be used at the overlook areas between basins 2 and 3 to maintain the historical integrity of the site."

Fiedler, however, is not satisfied.

"It's nothing," he said.  "We have 3,000 ft of historical fencing.  They want to throw it all out and put in a few feet of replica."

"All I'm asking them to do is give us a price assessment on taking it out," Fiedler continued, "sandblasting it, and putting it back in. If the cost turns out to be prohibitive, I can accept that."

Fiedler also expressed hope that a state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) study currently underway would prevent Parks from getting started on Phase 1 of the project.

Speaking to residents at the Citizens for a Better Ridgewood meeting on Monday, July 26, Fiedler expressed his belief that Parks would hold off on awarding the contract until the DEC had determined whether the reservoir would be designated as a wetlands.

"That changes the whole scheme of things for the city," Fiedler said.  "If it's declared a wetland, the city can't design anything without state approval."

Parks spokesperson Trish Bertuccio told the Times Newsweekly that the department is currently reviewing proposals for the project, and that Phase 1 is unaffected by the State's wetlands study.

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