-Increased public safety and enhanced community input for project cited-

After months of working closely with community residents and the Department of Parks and Recreation, New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. today announced the approval of a preliminary design contract at Ridgewood Reservoir that will increase public safety at the location and community input in the overall development process.

“I am happy to announce the approval of a contract to begin the design of the perimeter of Ridgewood Reservoir, which will greatly improve the safety of those who utilize the space as a means of recreation,” Thompson said. “Under this new agreement, we have ensured that the public will have a say in the ongoing design and construction process of the rest of the reservoir each step of the way.”

The work order, awarded to Mark K. Morrison Associates LTD (MMA), allows for design work to begin on the perimeter of the Ridgewood Reservoir. The project calls for installation of fences, lighting, steps and benches, and will serve to increase the safety of those who use the paths.

In addition, the contract also calls for MMA to issue “three conceptual plans” concerning the overall construction and design of the reservoir, including one design dedicated to “passive” recreation.

Thompson and Parks also have established a protocol within the contract that requires the public to have a say in the design process prior to and after the initial design concepts are created.

The reservoir, which sits on the border of Brooklyn and Queens, was built in 1848 to provide drinking water to Brooklyn residents. It was converted as a back-up reservoir in 1959 and taken off-line in 1989. Since then, trees, plants, turtles, fish, frogs and more than 137 bird species, including eight rare ones identified on the National Audubon Society’s “Watch List,” thrive on the land.

In June, the Comptroller returned a previous design contract that would have potentially replaced a large swath of the Ridgewood wilderness with limited public input. Since then, his office has arranged and attended a number of meetings to address the concerns of the project with members of the surrounding community.

“This contract creates a level of community input that enables this process to be open and transparent,” Thompson said. “By including all parties in the process, the final result will better reflect the best interests of all involved.”