Jumping in to the Ridgewood Reservoir Plan
by David Matz
Apr 07, 2009 | 3890 views | 0 0 comments | 67 67 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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A preliminary phase in the development of the Ridgewood Reservoir took to elementary tactics at I.S. 302 on Monday, March 30, as blank park plans were thrown on to school cafeteria tables, ready for energized community members eager to infuse ideas into the formative plans for the defunct reservoir’s renovations.

"Usually people who are from the neighborhood know a lot," said Charles McKinney, the Parks Department’ Recreation chief of Design, as small planning groups buzzed around park maps. "A lot of people would know even where specific kinds of birds' nests are. It's interesting just to hear people say it in their own words, without going through any sort of translation."

Around fifty people gathered for the meeting, which was intended to gather ideas for re-use of the reservoir, which sits on the Brooklyn-Queens border and used to supply drinking water to Brooklyn, but has been unused for years.

The reservoir had become overgrown, and was recently transferred from the Department of Environmental Protection to the Parks Department, which has plans to renovate the reservoir, although there has been some controversy over whether the reservoir should remain a more natural habitat, or whether the space should be used for active recreation.

"The point of this meeting is to develop two programs for Mark [Mark K. Morrison LTD.] to develop into two master plans," Kevin Quinn of the Parks Department added.

With Parks staff and designers from Mark K. Morrison LTD. (MMA) placed at tables to record, facilitate, and answer questions, the working meeting roared with lively discussions on what a great city park should provide.

Some felt the need for more active recreation, like baseball and soccer fields. Others wanted more bike and walking paths, including observation towers to view the Manhattan skyline, Jamaica Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.

"We do want to serve as well as preserve," stated one community member.

Each group presented their plans in five-minute presentations in which a general theme was dominant: Keep the habitat of the park intact while making the improvements to structural and educational elements that have deteriorated.

There were also some more creative improvements suggested for the park.

"This may be an area, rather than going to Bear Mountain, where a limited amount of people can go camping," suggested one presenter.

"One of the ideas here is that the kids in Ridgewood and East New York should be hired to improve the nature here; extract the evasive spices, plant fruiting trees, to be guides," another presenter suggested.

The groups also felt some kind of education center or museum would greatly improve the park, while preserving the park’s history.

What we'd like to do with the museum is have it go a couple layers into the reservoir," one group suggested.

To many, the park is vital to the education of the children in the neighborhood. By providing an educational, safe and diverse environment, they will be better prepared for the future.

"The education of our children [should be] towards future jobs; so-called green jobs that we are hearing about so much," stated one presenter. "We'd love to have our children be educated hands-on."

Future meetings have been planned to gather more information and hear new ideas about the park. One is scheduled for Saturday, May 2, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at I.S. 77 in Ridgewood, and another is to be determined after that.

Following the meeting, people were confident that their voices had been heard.

"I think the Parks Department wants do to something a little different, but the people are going to prevail," Brooklyn Community Board 5 district manager Walter Campbell said with a little smirk. "We are going to have it our way."
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