The following is testimony this writer presented to the NY City Council Parks Committee. If you agree, write your own comments to Mayor Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and to your representative on the City Council.
In preparing your own research, understand that this administration , including the Parks Commissioner, who should actually know better, tries to cloud the issue and make it appear that Highland Park is part of the Ridgewood Reservoir. They are separate entities, located side-by-side, separated by a roadway.
A visit to the Reservoir as well as a tour of the park is the most way to inform yourself of the facts, and decide for yourself whether or not the Ridgewood Reservoir should be destroyed to make way for athletic fields.
Take the Jackie Robinson Parkway westbound, exiting at the Cypress Hills ramp. Take the family and kids and a camera. The Reservoir is a gem. The Park is dismal. Capture it all on film (or, today, digital bits).
SUBJECT: SHOULD THE RIDGEWOOD RESERVOIR BE PRESERVED AS A WETLAND?
Testimony to the NY City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation
Position: Preserve the Reservoir as a Wetland
Friday, June 19, 2008
Ridgewood Reservoir Status Quo:
Fifty acres of long neglected nature preserve jewel;
Habitat for approximately 137 species of migratory and non-migratory birds, some of which are endangered, threatened, or of special concern;
The fresh water basin is home to birds, mammals and amphibians;
Large portion is wetlands or ecotonal (transition zone between two different plant communities);
Contains endangered and threatened native plants;
National Audubon Society “Watch list 2007” bird species – eight, so far – have been observed at the reservoir;
The Reservoir lands are filters for storm waters.
Ridgewood Reservoir Benefits:
Trees and foliage improve air quality;
Variety of trees and foliage reduce storm water runoff and the resulting soil erosion;
Trees and foliage moderate the local climate
Trees and foliage, by their natural appeal, improve the local economy and property values nearby;
Trees and foliage create a home for animals and birds;
This very rare urban wetland/forest/bird/animal preserve provides a superb educational opportunity for youngsters to appreciate wildlife and understand ecology;
The location is a quiet, natural setting for year-round enjoyment by people of all ages and interests.
Ridgewood Reservoir Restoration – NOT Destruction:
Many residents of Brooklyn and Queens would be delighted to help the Parks Department identify the trees, shrubs and greenery that should be preserved and nurtured, as opposed to the greenery that does require removal (such as some vines that choke tree growth). These residents have a variety of expertise including identification of plant life that nurture wildlife;
Removal of trees and foliage has a damaging effect on the benefits listed above;
Destruction of the reservoir land for the accommodation of athletic fields is contrary to the specific wishes of all who participated in so-called “listening sessions” (described as one-way by participants);
o Installation of artificial turf – a carcinogenic danger itself – defeats the soil erosion benefit of the untouched Reservoir land and reduces or eliminates the filtering benefit of the land;
o Concrete will accomplish the same destruction;
o This unnecessary and unjustified destruction of this rare jewel will reduce or eliminate the appeal to wildlife to use the land as their habitat;
o Destructive conversion of this land for use as athletic fields will encourage even further mindless destruction of the remaining habitat by having large numbers of unsupervised and unrestrained “athletes” gradually invading and destroying whatever habitat remains.
The Parks Department can shift the allocated $50 million otherwise set for the destruction of the Reservoir to a cleanup. The tires, air conditioners, and all sorts of debris dumped must be removed. Eliminate the growth that chokes good plant life; prune where required;
Use community expertise to beneficial effect.
HIGHLAND PARK – LONG NEGLECTED – WHY?
Adjacent to the Ridgewood Reservoir is Highland Park, a portion of which is within Brooklyn, and the other, in Queens – a useless bit of data;
Highland Park is approximately 185 acres – more than triple the acreage of the Reservoir – and already has long-neglected accommodations for both athletics and everyday recreation;
o Six ball fields;
o Twenty-eight tennis courts;
o Twelve basketball courts;
o One soccer field;
o Handball courts;
o Two playgrounds;
o One running track;
Transfer the appropriate portion of the $50 Million allocated for the destruction of the Ridgewood Reservoir for use in the upgrading, expanding and improvement of these long-neglected athletic accommodations;
Spend no money – tax or private contributions – on the installation of any artificial turf or concrete;
Natural grass, trees, foliage, and shrubbery have been available since time began. It is utter arrogance to believe that a government agency can improve on the beauty of these;
Preserve the Reservoir; maintain Highland Park; this is our tax money.