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Queens Chronicle

DEC’s Ridgewood visit postponed

Residents seek state declaration of wetlands on old reservoir site

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Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011 1:35 pm | Updated: 12:32 pm, Thu Aug 25, 2011.

The Region 2 director of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has postponed a walking tour scheduled this week for the Ridgewood Reservoir.

Vanetia Lannon’s visit was connected with a request by Ridgewood residents and officials to declare the site a wetland.

Such a declaration would make the site very difficult legally and logistically to develop. It would bolster the efforts of Ridgewood residents and civic officials who want the site used for passive recreation geared toward nature, science and education.

Wetland designation also would place a roadblock in the way of city officials who have proposed filling in at least one of the basins in order to construct athletic fields.

Thomas Dowd, a Ridgewood resident who favors the wetland designation, said he did not know why Lannon postponed the visit or when it will be rescheduled.

Lannon’s office declined to comment.

The reservoir was constructed in 1858 in what is now Highland Park on the Queens-Brooklyn border. It provided Brooklyn with water until 1959, and Basin 2 served as a backup supply for the borough from 1960 to 1989. The site was transferred to the Parks Department in 2004.

Parks has already begun some upgrades to the site, including new fencing, a handicapped-accessible ramp at the Vermont Place entrance and new lighting along a repaved trail.

A Parks Department spokeswoman last week said this first phase is scheduled to be complete by spring 2012.

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, also had no information on the postponement. But he fully supports the idea of a wetland designation as a way of preserving some of the borough’s past.

“It’s now a nature preserve and it should be left that way,” Holden said Tuesday. “It will really give people a glimpse of what  Queens was before development. If it is kept in its natural state — with an improved path and lighting — you will be able to get a glimpse of what Queens was like 200 or 300 years ago.”

Dowd has said that the reservoir now hosts 140 species of birds and some endangered species of plants and animals.

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