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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Historic Designation Getting Closer

With the organization NYCH2O driving the effort, the reservoir appears to be getting closer to landmark protector. A series of local newspaper article came out this week about that endeavor.

From the Queens Tribune:

Reprieve For Ridgewood Reservoir
on: March 16, 2017 In: News, Top News

The Ridgewood Reservoir has been given a stay of execution following a 20-year battle by community advocates.

The city Parks Department had initially wanted to toss construction debris into the reservoir, pave over it and then create athletic fields at the site, said Steven Fiedler, Community Board 5’s parks committee chairman.
The committee met with the Parks Department during CB 5’s most recent meeting and was able to get the agency to understand that the reservoir does not pose a flooding danger to the community.

According to Fiedler, CB 5 had dam and water experts present during the meeting to discuss the reservoir with Parks Department representatives. The experts presented data showing that during the largest rainstorm in the past century, approximately 15 years ago, the three basins did not rise more than an inch.

The Parks Department agreed to author a letter that would recommend the reservoir become part of the National Historic Register. CB 5 voted unanimously to support this on Fiedler’s recommendation.

Several years ago, the city had put aside $9 million for a succession of dams that would prevent overflow at the reservoir. Fiedler said he hopes that with the money still secured, infrastructure can be created throughout the reservoir, such as walkways, a visitor center, maintenance area and elevator.

Fiedler said that he and Matt Malina, a local water system educator, expect a letter from the Parks Department supporting the reservoir’s place on the register within the week.

This article is from the Queens Ledger:

CB5 supports historic designation for reservoir
by Patrick Kearns
03.13.17 - 03:21 pm

Community Board 5 voted unanimously to support adding the Ridgewood Reservoir to the National Register of Historic Places at its monthly board meeting last week.

“It puts another layer of protection on the Ridgewood Reservoir,” said Steven Fiedler, chair of the board’s Parks Committee. “If we can get them to put it on the National Registry of Historic Places, that means they could never touch it again and it has to stay nature.”

It would also open the Highland Park site up to federal grants for improvements such as pathways, elevators, and bridges.

The 19th century-era Ridgewood Reservoir provided water to Brooklyn, but became obsolete once the city began getting its water from the Catskills in 1936

Over time, nature took over and the site became a wetland. It was decommissioned by the Department of Environmental Conservation in 1990, and in 2004 it was given to the Parks Department.

There was talk of it being filled in to construct athletic fields, but now the Parks Department is committed to preserving the space and supports the historic designation.

“Parks is fully committed to preserving the dam as natural open space,” a spokesperson said.

© 2017

Another piece was in the Queens Chronicle:

Push for a ‘historic’ designation grows
by Christopher Barca, Associate Editor | Posted: Thursday, March 16, 2017 10:30 am

The years-long fight to preserve the Ridgewood Reservoir is finally coming to an end, Community Board 5 Parks Committee Chairman Steve Fiedler says.

And a happy one, at that.

CB 5 voted 32-0 last Wednesday to support a push to have the scenic location on the Brooklyn-Queens border added to the state and federal registers of Historic Places, much to Fielder’s joy.

“It’s been a 20-year battle with the Parks Department to keep this thing nature,” Fiedler said after the vote. “Thank you for your support and I think we finally won.”

Ground was first broken by the city on the three-basin reservoir, which sits within Highland Park on the Queens-Brooklyn border, in 1856.

It was used as one of the five boroughs’ primary water supplies until 1959, after which time it was used only as a water source during droughts.

It was eventually decommissioned and drained in 1989, eventually returning to its previous state as a popular forest habitat for birds and other wildlife with water filling the second basin.

Three years ago, the state proposed a flood mitigation project that would involve breaching the berms separating the basins and building roadways between them.

A city study later determined the area posed no flood risk and should be reclassified from a Class C high-hazard dam to a Class A low-hazard one.

Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor told the Chronicle in a Monday email that the agency will also be getting behind Fiedler’s push to have the Ridgewood Reservoir deemed a historic place.

“We will be pursuing a Critical Environmental Area designation for this site, as well as issuing a formal letter of support for the inclusion of the site on the National and State Historic Registers,” Lalor said. “NYC Parks is fully committed to preserving the dam as natural open space.”

Designating a space as a CEA is done by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. To become a CEA, according to the DEC, the area “must have an exceptional or unique character” with respect to public health, wildlife and ecological significance, as well as its cultural, historic, educational and recreational values.

Fiedler said he heard the reclassification from Class C to Class A could come this month, but Lalor said there is no timeline for such a decision.

Send us an email