The Ridgewood Reservoir master plan
by Andrew Shilling
Jul 02, 2013 | 823 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Phase one of Highland Park’s restoration project is nearing completion while the next step in the master plan is still open-ended.

The three reservoir basins of the 50-acre park along the Brooklyn and Queens borderline were originally dedicated to supplying the city with drinking water until it was decommissioned back in 1956. Since then, the park, pump house and caretaker’s cottage were left to the elements and fell into disrepair.

As the first phase of the park’s improvement project is expected for completion by the summer, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation provided three potential plans to the neighborhood; one of which offers the possibility of three new baseball and soccer fields.

Community Board 5 (CB5) chairman Vincent Arcuri joined dozens of community members and Parks representatives for a community forum on the proposed plans.

“It seemed as though the sentiment is toward a passive, reserved type of situation,” Arcuri said of the meeting held at St. Pancras School, Pfeiffer Hall last week, located at 68-20 Myrtle Ave. “We don’t want anything outrageous like ball fields, but to keep it green and a nature preserve. It’s in the fly zone of a number of birds.”

While all the plans presented at the meeting included redeveloping the gate and pump houses, a potential pedestrian bridge and overall restoration of the basins; the other two plans call for a rock climbing wall, a boat dock and athletic fields.

According to a Parks representative, “The concept plans were developed through a series of listening sessions hosted by the Parks Department in Brooklyn and Queens, where over 100 community residents attended.”

The group used charrettes and filled out surveys to help develop three potential concepts to help decide the overall “master panning stage.”

In Concept A, the restorations would leave the park similar to how it is now, however there would be an overhaul of the invasive plant species and a ramp built down to the basin floor from street level.

Concepts B and C both include everything in Concept A, however they also call for additional pedestrian networks, recreational fields and more of what is already in place at the southern portion of the park in Cypress Hills.

“Board 5 pretty much has wanted the Ridgewood Reservoir to be essentially as close to a nature preserve as possible,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB5. “I’m hoping there will be funding to renovate the pump house and the gate house for parks department staff so we might be able to have something to serve as an environmental center there.”

Both Giordano and Arcuri are also hopeful there will be funding to add Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers at the park.

“We originally, way back, recommended to build a PEP center station or a precinct training center because that way it could be centrally located and take care of Forest Park and Highland Park,” Arcuri explained.

As the reservoir is in a secluded part of the neighborhood, surrounded by mostly cemeteries and parkland, Giordano added that it is imperative that the city bring in additional security.

“I have been in touch with Queens borough command and with the police to say ‘this reservoir has been closed for years, and going to open soon, and we need security,’” Giordano said. “Security is very important to protect the public and also the city’s investment there.”

While the plan would still require funding, there is another meeting in the works to further discuss the findings from the community.

“This is probably a 20 year plan,” Arcuri said.
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