Tag Archives: Ridgewood Reservoir

Op-ed: Bowne Park: kiss your venerable trees goodbye


| oped@queenscourier.com

CARSTEN W. GLAESER

The July 10 Courier reporting on the planned “facelift” and revitalized green space of Flushing’s Bowne Park comes with a cost far greater than the proposed $2.45M capital construction expense, if we consider the large long-lived trees that populate the park. In addition to aesthetics, we must be mindful of the high economic value and benefits and services that those trees provide. Scientific evidence reveals new understandings of the benefits and services gained from large trees, elevating these organisms to significant and irreplaceable natural assets in communities. From improvements in our health and healing, the psychological benefits we find among large trees, the removal of gaseous air pollution and interception of harmful particulate matter, valued in the millions of dollars, to the cooling effects and the savings from costly storm water control systems by a tree’s absorbing capacity, we ought to do a better job protecting this invaluable natural resource.

Yet, one park-wide construction facelift across a highly tree-sensitive landscape will result in needless tree losses in short time. With its heavy equipment and excavation, the harmful compaction of soils along with the deliberate absence of effective tree and landscape protections shall see scores of large park trees compromised in health. Such is the historical pattern of many NYC Parks Capital Construction park-revitalization projects populated by public trees. It is a division that is misguided and tree-unfriendly.

In 2013, the Chronicle reported on such a Parks Capital project in Queens at the Ridgewood Reservoir. Several venerable, irreplaceable 150-year old specimen plane trees and the adjacent open landscape were abused and harmed for a design scheme that did all but consider the “trees’ needs.” In 2004, a $2.0M Parks Capital lake-revitalization project in Kissena Park saw similar large shade trees abused by having protection and oversight removed to expedite the project to the financial gain of a contractor. Once magnificent, broad-canopied lakeside trees valued at $1.8M (as a living public asset) are now mere tree-skeletons, with a cost value that is quickly approaching zero. Then there is Washington Square Park, with its historic trees, where that revitalization project allowed abuses on a magnitude that some believe bordered on criminal.

By not addressing the trees’ needs amid construction, municipalities allow for tree abuses. When tree-unfriendly and illogical design schemes with award-winning intentions take preference over the trees’ needs, the outcome is never good. An effectively implemented and enforced state-of-the-art Tree and Landscape Protection Plan could combat this abuse. If carried out by the right arboricultural professional and given a level of autonomy and close collaboration with the project engineer, a Tree and Landscape Protection Plan could effectively reverse the tree abuse trends and consequences that have been witnessed.

The friends of Bowne Park, civic members and all who value and enjoy the presence of their large park tree assets and wish to have those trees for decades or even a century longer need to demand the best for tree health and its protections. They must demand of Parks Capital to plan and implement a Tree and Landscape Protection Plan. Its maintenance and enforcement, by whom and for how long must be mandated and upheld, or else your venerable trees will go the way of others lost to similar revitalization projects — dead and gone before we even realize what has happened.

Carsten W. Glaeser is a Flushing-based independent Consulting Arborist. He has an advanced graduate degree from CUNY Graduate Center in the plant sciences and was a biology and plant sciences instructor for CUNY undergraduate students before turning to consulting. Dr. Glaeser is active in several professional arboricultural and urban forestry organizations and locally is the current vice president of the Kissena Park Civic Association.

 

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Local politicians urge city to delay Ridgewood Reservoir plans


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

A plan to alter the Ridgewood Reservoir is being challenged by several local politicians, who say proposed “changes will significantly harm the natural and largely undisturbed habitats of the animals that currently live there.”

The letter, sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday, was written in response to a meeting held in Glendale on June 30. During that meeting the Parks Department outlined a plan to connect the three water basins that make up the reservoir together by “creating three very large breaches in the reservoir’s surrounding berms,” according to the letter. The plan has been controversial and many community members have argued against making any changes to the old reservoir.

The reservoir is made up of three water basins that are isolated from one another sitting on 50 acres of land, according to the Parks Department. The reservoir originally supplied water to Brooklyn until 1959 and has since become a park that is home to an array of wildlife. Some of the wetland plants in the reservoir are on the endangered and threatened lists.

The Parks Department proposed the changes because it claims that the resevoir is currently a flood hazard.

“We ask that the NYC Parks Department be granted a waiver so they can delay the proposed work,” the politicians wrote in the letter in response to the plans. The politicians argue that along with disturbing animal habitats and cutting down 470 trees, the construction is a waste of money.

“The proposed project to breach the dam of the Ridgewood Reservoir will cost the city at least $6 million. We believe that there are many other areas where the city can spend this money including building more schools, improving our infrastructure, upgrading our transportation system, and many other capital requests that our Community Boards have highlighted.”

The letter was signed by state Sens. Joseph Addabbo and Michael Gianaris, Assemblyman Michael Miller, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Councilman Antonio Reynoso and U.S Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Grace Meng.



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Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.

 

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Ridgewood Reservoir reopens after renovations


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The Ridgewood Reservoir has been resurrected.

A crowd of politicians, civic leaders and members of the community oversaw the reservoir’s grand opening on Tuesday, which heralded the completion of phase one of the site’s revitalization plan.

The nearly $7 million renovation included construction of new fencing, lighting, repaving of pathways and the addition of a handicap-accessible ramp.

“This is a historic spot for Queens and more importantly the Ridgewood community,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. “It’s a natural resource that many didn’t know about because it wasn’t accessible. Now it’s more accessible.”

The reservoir, situated near the Brooklyn-Queens border in Highland Park, was used to supply water to Brooklyn starting in the 1850s. Three basins make up the more than 50-acre space, which was officially decommissioned in 1990, according to the Parks Department.

The plan to revitalize the reservoir started in a few years ago as a part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative.

Representatives from the Department of Parks and Recreation presented three concepts of a master plan for the reservoir at a public meeting hosted by the Park Services Committee of Community Board (CB) 5 on June 27.

The presentation showed dramatic changes to the reservoir to allow more people to enjoy the green space.

In the first concept plan presented, the public will only have access to the third basin, while the other basins will be locked and opened only for maintenance. There will be stone paths weaved through basin three and the gatehouse between basins one and two will be restored and turned into a ranger station. There will also be viewing platforms around basin two, where a large pool of water currently sits.

The second plan includes all modifications from the first, but adds access to the first basin. A rock climbing wall and a meadow area will be placed in basin three, a boardwalk in basin one and a boat dock in the second basin.

The final concept features the most access. This plan will contain all the mark-ups of the first two plans, plus baseball fields, a comfort station and a waterworks-themed adventure playground in the third basin.

Despite the ideas to renovate the reservoir, many people in community are opposed to a complete transformation of the site.

“What we see as wetland portions, we’d like them to be preserved that way,” said Vincent Arcuri Jr., chair of Community Board 5.

There is no money allocated to the master plan as yet and current ideas have to be reviewed and presented to the community board again.

 

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Ridgewood Reservoir plans met with mixed reaction


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Residents are riled up at a plan to transform the Ridgewood Reservoir, saying they prefer to preserve the 150-year site in its natural state.

Representatives from the Department of Parks and Recreation presented three concepts of the master plan for the reservoir at a public meeting hosted by the Park Services Committee of Community Board (CB) 5 on June 27 at the St. Pancras School.

Contrary to neighbors’ pleas, the presentation showed dramatic changes to the reservoir to allow more people to enjoy the green space.

“I would like to see the Ridgewood Reservoir kept in as natural a state as possible and become an environmental center,” said CB5 District Manager Gary Giordano. “[For] any recreational activities, we would like to see Highland Park improved.”

The reservoir, situated near the Brooklyn-Queens border in Highland Park, was used to supply water to Brooklyn starting in the 1850s. Three basins make up the more than 50-acre space, which was officially decommissioned in 1990, according to the Parks Department.

In the first concept plan presented, the public will only have access to the third basin, while the other basins will be locked and opened only for maintenance. There will be stone paths weaved through basin three and the gatehouse between basins one and two will be restored and turned into a ranger station. There will also be viewing platforms around basin two, where a large pool of water currently sits.

The second plan includes all modifications from the first, but adds access to the first basin. A rock climbing wall and a meadow area will be placed in basin three, a boardwalk in basin one and a boat dock in the second basin.

The final concept features the most access. This plan will contain all the mark-ups of the first two plans, plus baseball fields, a comfort station and a waterworks-themed adventure playground in the third basin.

The first plan was the most favorable to residents because it allows very limited access to the public.
“Whatever needs to be done, I prefer A,” Middle Village resident Joy Fieldstadt said. “It’s the least invasive and it’s the least development. There are existing ball fields [in Highland Park] and there are existing playgrounds there. If there was money, I would like to see the Parks Department put it into that.”

Residents are concerned because they don’t want the nature in the area disturbed. The reservoir is home to plant life such as Sweet Gum, Black Cherry and Grey Birch trees and wildlife such as Red-Shouldered Hawks and Short-Eared Owls.

The reservoir is currently closed while it undergoes Phase 1, part of Mayor’ Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative. Phase one includes new lighting, pathways, stairs and an access ramp.

Parks Department representatives did not have a price tag for any of the plans, saying they “didn’t want to stifle creativity by putting limitations.”

While the plans have been presented, nothing is set in stone until residents can get public officials to allocate money.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain, then a chance of a thunderstorm and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 84. Winds from the South at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.4 in. possible. Tuesday night: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. Low of 73. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30% with rainfall amounts near 0.3 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: EcoHouse at Queens Botanical Garden

The Community Environmental Center EcoHouse, on display at the Queens Botanical Garden through August 31, is a mobile, cutting-edge and interactive exhibit that lets you see behind the walls and underneath the floor of a home. You will learn how your house or apartment really works. A 21st-century classroom for students of all ages, it helps you understand how to save energy, save money and protect the natural world around you. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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