By Bianca Fortis
The Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park is open now that Phase 1 construction at the site has been completed.
Nearly half the path that winds around the reservoir had been closed since July 2011 when construction began. All of the paths in the park, which is located in Glendale near the Jackie Robinson Parkway, reopened last week, a spokesman for the city Parks Department said.
Phase 1, which cost almost $7 million, involved installing new fencing and new lighting, repaving the walking paths around the basin and building a handicap-accessible ramp, according to Gary Giordano, district manager for Community Board 5.
“It’s just beautiful,” he said.
The contract was awarded to Maspeth construction company Trocom Construction Corp. for $6.4 million. According to the city comptroller’s database, $6.92 million has actually been spent on the project.
Giordano said there may be a ribbon cutting planned to officially mark the reopening of the park, but no details have been set yet.
For more than 100 years, from 1858-1959, the reservoir operated as a water supply. Later, the second of three basins was used as a backup water supply for Queens and Brooklyn. In 1990, the site was decommissioned and it was later developed into a public park.
In July, the Parks Department released three concept plans for Phase 2 of the park. They were based on listening sessions and surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009.
But the city does not actually have any funds available for Phase 2, nor are there any cost estimates available for any of the plans.
In July, a spokesman for the Parks Department said the plans are “intended to foster discussion” and can be adjusted with community input.
The first and simplest plan includes viewing platforms, trail heads and a pedestrian bridge.
The other two plans include more development such as a boat dock, a rock climbing wall, additional boardwalks, ball fields and a “waterworks adventure playground.”
Community members, including Giordano, have said they would like to limit development in the park so the reservoir can remain a natural preserve.
Giordano said he hopes there will be funding available to renovate the pump house at the reservoir, build bathrooms and to possibly construct an environmental center.
“What we as a board have been opposed to is the development of any basins for active recreational use,” he said.
Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.