Ridgewood residents give input on reservoir

Ridgewood residents give input on reservoir
By Nathan Duke

Western Queens residents and community leaders gathered Saturday to etch out their own ideas for major improvements to the Ridgewood Reservoir at Highland Park as the finalized plan for a preliminary upgrade nears completion.

Mark K. Morrison Associates, the landscape architect for the reservoir’s $50 million upgrade, will soon complete three different options for developing the park and then a final plan could be chosen by the end of the summer, Morrison said. A construction date for the project has not yet been set.

The three options for the reservoir include a plan to convert at least one of the park’s three dry basins into artificial−turf ballfields, another that would preserve the site solely as a nature preserve and a third that would be a combination of the two proposals.

In the meantime, plans for an interim $7.5 million upgrade of the park could soon be ready to go before Community Board 5, city Parks Department spokesman Kevin Quinn said. That project, which would take a year and a half to complete, would refurbish the park’s rim, including staircases, a perimeter path and a trail between two of the basins, as well as adding new lighting and fencing, he said.

Ridgewood community leaders discussed their own ideas on how to develop the reservoir last weekend during a listening session held by the Parks Department at the neighborhood’s IS 77 on Seneca Avenue.

CB 5 passed a board resolution last month asking that $10 million to $15 million of the reservoir’s budget be used toward refurbishing ballfields, which are in various states of disrepair, at Highland Park. The park is shared between Queens and Brooklyn.

“We’d like to see the ballfields at Highland Park get upgraded,” CB 5 district manager Gary Giordano said at last weekend’s meeting. “That would enable us to do what is our dream: to make the Ridgewood Reservoir overwhelmingly a natural preserve with open space.”

Giordano said there would be a final listening session held by the Parks Department on the reservoir’s upgrade in Brooklyn. That session will be used to review all information gathered at previous meetings on the project.

The Ridgewood Reservoir was constructed in 1858 to serve Brooklyn. Its three basins comprising the 50−acre reservoir site were last used during the drought of 1965 and were drained in 1989.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.