Reservoir plans move forward
by Daniel Bush
Jul 14, 2009 | 2801 views | 0 0 comments | 106 106 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The city's $7.6 million phase one plans for the Ridgewood Reservoir have been conditionally approved by Community Board 5, whose members say they remain opposed to any larger redevelopment of the reservoir.

CB5 voted on the reservoir at its July 8th meeting, after Steve Fiedler, the board's Parks Committee chairman, made the most detailed presentation to date on the city's phase one plans.

Fiedler described a project that would make small infrastructure improvements, leaving bigger decisions on recreation space and environmental impact for a later, costlier phase two project.

Under its proposed phase one plan, the city would rebuild the causeway, or path between the second and third basins of the reservoir, and install new light fixtures and perimeter fencing around the reservoir.

In addition, the city plans to build two wheelchair ramps connecting to the elevated reservoir that would make it more accessible for disabled visitors.

The causeway would be widened to approximately 12 to 14 feet, in part to accommodate emergency vehicles, and would feature three overlook areas with benches and views of the second basin, which is filled with water and resembles a natural lake.

The path would be lit by up to 100 new, roughly 12-foot-high park lamps designed to reflect light onto the path itself, and away from the basin.

All of the basins would be fenced in by a four-foot-high, wrought iron-style fence that the Parks Department said would resemble the fencing around the Central Park reservoir.

"They told us they want it to be like Central Park," said Fiedler, who objected to several aspects of the city's plan. "We told them we're not in Central Park, we're in Brooklyn and Queens."

Fiedler's Parks Committee proposed that the Parks Department build seven-foot-high fences around the park to keep people out after hours, and a slightly modified lighting system to allow for easier maintenance.

In addition, Fiedler said the city should build two bus stops in the parking lot on Vermont Place opposite the reservoir, and a wheelchair accessible bridge over the busy roadway, instead of two separate ramps, as the city has proposed.

These two measures would allow children, the disabled, and seniors alike to access the reservoir more safely, Fiedler said.

CB5 voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Parks Department's phase one project, so long as the city adopts the Parks Committees recommendations.

Fiedler said while the phase one plans largely make sense, the Parks Committee remains opposed to the further redevelopment of the reservoir, which could happen under a phase two project.

The city has commissioned three master plans for the reservoir, which will be ready later this year. Fiedler said they would likely include plans to turn the upper eight acres of the third basin into ball fields, something community residents and board members who want to see the space preserved strenuously object to.

"There's a lot of [animal] species, birds, and plants in basin three so they have a fight on their hands," Fiedler said.

Gary Giordano, CB5's district manager, and Vinny Arcuri, the board chairman, also said they would continue pressing the city to leave the reservoir alone - besides the phase one improvements - and rebuild the adjacent, rundown Highland Park instead.

Part of Highland Park, which mostly serves residents of Cypress Hills and East New York, lies in the CB5 district, though Arcuri admitted the board gives it too little attention.

"We've been a little remiss over the years in not paying attention to it," Arcuri said, "but we're starting to now."
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