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

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Queens Chronicle Story

Good news travels fast! This article was published late this morning in the Queens Chronicle:

Ridgewood Reservoir to be reclassified?
by Christopher Barca, Reporter | Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2014 10:30 am
Ridgewood Reservoir to be reclassified?

Activists fighting for the reclassification of the Ridgewood Reservoir shouldn’t uncork the champagne just yet, but they may have scored a victory this week.

The Parks Department will apply to the state Department of Environmental Conservation for a redesignation of the reservoir, within Highland Park on the Glendale-Brooklyn border, from a Class C “high hazard” dam to a Class A “low hazard” dam, according to agency spokesman Zach Feder.

That could negate the need for a project that residents say would destroy the park by requiring the cutting down of almost 500 trees and the construction of roads that would negatively impact the habitat of many of the park’s wildlife species.

“Parks has discussed the prospect of instead reclassifying the reservoir as a Class A “low hazard” site with DEC, which would eliminate the need to create any breaches,” Feder said. “Parks is currently working on a package that we will submit to DEC in support of this reclassification.”

If the state DEC approves the agency’s reclassification application, the proposed two-year, $6 million culvert creation project mandated by the DEC will be deemed unnecessary and terminated.

The planned construction work would include creating large culverts in the embankments between the three basins of the park, one of which is filled with water.

According to the DEC, such work would reduce the risk of a breach of one or more of the basins during an unprecedented storm, which might lead to severe flooding in the surrounding areas.

However, residents and Community Board 5 have claimed that it would be nearly impossible for enough precipitation to fill the basins to a point where a potential breach will seriously threaten the surrounding area.

In recent months, area elected officials and activists have petitioned for the reclassification of the reservoir in their own way.

In a letter to Gov. Cuomo dated July 24, Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) and Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn, Queens), state Sens. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and state Assemblymembers Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and Cathy Nolan (D-Sunnyside) expressed their concern over what the proposed work would do to the park’s ecosystem.

“The proposed work consists of breaching the berms that separate the Ridgewood Reservoir’s basins, building permanent access roads into this habitat, and cutting down at least 470 trees,” the letter reads. “We are concerned these changes will significantly harm the natural and largely undisturbed habitats of the animals that live there.”

Additionally, the preservation group Save Ridgewood Reservoir started a petition on the social change website to rally support for its cause in July. As of Wednesday, 793 people had signed it.

Many of the petition’s signatories are from the area, including Queens Civic Congress President Richard Hellenbrecht and New York City Audubon President Harrison Maas, but some from as far away as Kentucky left messages of encouragement.

“This is a rich environmental habitat,” Hellenbrecht wrote, “and offers a unique perspective of NYC history and must be maintained in its natural state.”

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