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Queens Chronicle

Reservoir revs up renovation effort

New features are looking good at Highland Park project in Ridgewood

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Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 11:30 am, Thu Oct 18, 2012.

City officials still are not commenting as to whether they will pursue the construction of athletic fields on the site of the old Ridgewood Reservoir. But upgrades visible from the street appear to be progressing nicely.

Phase 1 consists of new fencing, new staircases and the installation of ramps to allow handicapped accessibility to the newly repaved walking trail around the old basins. New fencing is being added and a brand-new wiring and electrical system is being installed to accommodate new lights atop classic-style lampposts.

Phase 1 was scheduled to be completed this past spring, until work began and contractors discovered walls and paths that were structurally unstable.

But Gary Giordano, district manager for Community Board 5, was upbeat on Monday.

“It should be done sometime this coming spring, which is better than I was expecting,” he said.

Still at issue is whether or not the city will allow one of the three basins to be filled in for the construction of athletic fields.

Officials from the Department of Parks and Recreation did not respond to requests for comment this week.

But Giordano said members of Community Board 5 remain steadfastly opposed to any plan that does not turn the former reservoir into a nature preserve for passive recreation, academic and scientific uses.

“With all the bird species there, you certainly have a reason for that,” he said. “We’ve been opposed to any of those basins being developed for active recreation, and the thought of thousands and thousands of truckloads of fill having to be brought in to fill one of those basins. It would be damaging to the surrounding community.”

He said there are plenty of ballfields of all kinds both in Highland Park and surrounding areas in both Queens and Brooklyn that would only need to be refurbished to serve the needs of all athletes.

The reservoir was built in 1858, and served as a water supply for Brooklyn for 101 years until two of the basins were drained.

Basin 2 served as a backup water supply for Brooklyn from 1960 to 1989, and was decommissioned in 1990.

It was transferred to the custody of the Parks Department in 2004 with the intention of turning it into a public park.

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