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

Friday, July 8, 2011

Inept Parks Department Begins Work

Despite the local community board's outrage over a poorly thought-out fencing and lighting design for the Ridgewood Reservoir's perimeter, the Department of Parks and Recreation is proceeding with their plans.

Crime is up in parks citywide, yet NYC Park Commissioner Benepe and Queens Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski think that leaving the 50 acre basins essentially wide open to anyone who wants to jump the fence and disappear into the forests below is a really good idea. Anyone with half a brain can figure out what is going to occur once all the 8 foot fences are removed. This blog has been documenting the travesties involved with the "community input" process and the parks department has been summarily ignoring the people from the surrounding neighborhoods. The removal of the protective fences marks the beginning of the end of the most unique habitat in all of New York City and a historically important landmark. When the first dead bodies are found in the basin and the city decides it would be best to raze the evolving forests and bogs, remember the name Dorothy Lewandowski as she is the city official who should be held responsible.

The following was just published in the Astoria Times:

Construction begins at Ridgewood Reservoir

By Joe Anuta
Thursday, July 7, 2011 10:57 AM EDT

A worker grinds down a stump along the path surrounding the Ridgewood Reservoir.
Photo by Joe Anuta

Construction on the Ridgewood Reservoir is in full swing, which pleased some park-goers but continued to enrage community activists.

Nearly half of the path that winds around the parcel of wilderness is closed to the public as construction crews tear out sections of fence and cut down trees along the edge.

“It’s going to be beautiful, we’re very happy to be working on it,” said one of the construction workers from a Maspeth construction company, who won the contract bid to revamp the green space.

The company will be replacing some of the stone slabs on the edge of the reservoir, installing new lights around the inner circumference of the path and placing benches near especially scenic views. A path that cuts down the middle of the reservoir between two of the large basins was previously off limits, but will also be open to the public under the new plan.

The company will also be installing a ramp to allow disabled residents access to the reservoir.

But one contentious change will be the new fence that is set to replace the chain link barrier that currently surrounds the reservoir.

The new fence will be about 4 feet tall instead of the nearly 8-foot version and has generated friction between the city Parks Department and Community Board 5. Representatives from the board believe the fence is too short and would allow curious explorers unencumbered access to the nature preserve.

“I can step over a 4-foot fence,” said Steve Fiedler, chairman of the board’s Parks Committee. “We want a deterrent.”

People already slip into the reservoir through the dilapidated, porous fence to sleep, consume alcohol, do drugs or even stage paintball matches, he said.

“There is no security there, no cops,” Fiedler said. “It’s a free-for-all.”

But Parks said the shorter fence will allow visitors to actually see the foliage.

Residents were split on whether the shorter fence would be an improvement.

“I think a smaller one is better,” said resident Jose Estebec. “You can actually see everything.”

Kamesha Scott disagreed, saying a taller fence is needed to keep out adventurous kids.

“If you have the kids who want to explore, they’re better off keeping it higher,” she said.

The construction is set to be complete in next spring.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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