The long-awaited Ridgewood Reservoir master plan proposal has finally been presented.
After years of testing, land surveys and flora and fauna assessments, the Parks Department has come up with three possible uses for the Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park.
At a special public meeting of Community Board 5, Katie Raschdorf, the consultant project manager, gave a presentation outlining what has been referred to as Phase II of the Ridgewood Reservoir Project.
“These ideas are based on input we received from the community,” she said. “We took those comments and came up with proposals that we feel best honor the wishes of the community.”
Attendees were excited to hear about a proposed water playground, visiting center and walking paths.
There is just one problem. There is no funding for the project.
“We’re asking those who like any or all of the ideas presented here to talk to your elected officials and tell them to help fund the project,” Raschdorf said.
The three plans range from offering little access to greater access to the three basins.
Concept Plan A features the least amount of renovating. The public would have access to the third basin through a gated ramp that would be locked after operating hours. Ecological and educational nodes would be placed along the pathway for tour groups and for people to lounge.
The pump house and gate house that were used when the land functioned as a reservoir would become security headquarters and restrooms.
“Plan A is the lightest touch,” Raschdorf said. “Basins 1 and 2 will remain untouched and Basin 3 will be accessible through the new rampway that was completed recently.”
Plan B features everything in Plan A in addition to turning Basin 3 into an open lawn. Basin 1 would be 100 percent controlled access, meaning only tour groups would be permitted to walk through, and Basin 2 would allow canoe and small boat access.
Finally, Plan C features even more access to the basins and includes a water-themed playground, rock climbing and an enlarged lawn for sports fields.
“These plans aren’t set in stone either,” Raschdorf said. “You can say you like parts of Plan A but also want this part from Plan B.”
Those who sat in on the meeting seemed optimistic after Raschdorf, who would not allow her photograph to be taken or provide her name for the press, presented the proposals. Her name was obtained through a Google search.
But those feelings quickly waned when the lack of funding was mentioned.
“If there is no funding then why are we even talking about this?” one man asked.
When asked how much the projects would cost, many found Raschdorf’s answer to be, again, disappointing.
“We do not have a cost estimation,” she said.
The statement was met with groans and disapproving head-shaking.
“We have had a big problem with Parks in the past,” attendee Lou Widerka said. “You made a great presentation but we have had many issues with the Parks Department. I will say that I am happy you were so thorough.”
The board decided to revisit the subject in August when members will vote on each of the plans and come up with a recommendation.
“I just hope that whatever the final result is, that it will contain as much of the land’s original character as possible,” Joy Fieldstadt said. “With so much going on in a city like ours, I think we deserve a quiet place with trees where people can go and just enjoy the land.”
For now, the land sits surrounded by fencing and “Do Not Enter” signs posted in front of the entrance.
It will continue to sit until elected officials decide to fund one of the projects. As the plans are in the early design stages, the future of the reservoir remains unclear.