With a blueprint laid out to breach the three basins with a series of access roads for maintenance vehicles, the city met with dozens of local residents last week at St. Pancras Parish in Glendale to assure the nearly $6 million plan is in fact necessary.
Rather than comply with recently tightened requirements to maintain dams, set in 2009 after Hurricane Irene, Venetia Lannon, a regional resources supervisor for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said the approach was chosen in light of its recently reformed “high-hazard” conditions.
Following several letters of concern from the community about the future of the habitat, Lannon assured the plan would be in the best interest of the surrounding wildlife.
“The hydrology of the Ridgewood Reservoir will not be changing because of this breach,” she assured.
Although the city has promised a plan to return more than 500 trees to the reservoir after removing 470 invasive species, the recent town hall meeting was nevertheless flooded with accusations of mismanagement and negligence of the green space.
Robert Bate, a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club, said the water body should never have been classified as a reservoir in the first place.
“It’s really a pond above water level,” Bate said. “It doesn’t have a watershed, there’s no way short of a biblical event that this could ever overflow with water.”
Bate and many other Ridgewood residents say they lost their trust with the city after it was once eyed for a park space overhaul with proposed recreational fields and other amenities.
“There is a lot of mistrust because they haven’t really been forthcoming, and they haven’t really answered any of the questions about how they made this decision,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Parks Department assured that there is in fact no plan to develop any form of recreational facility in the space.
“Further development of the basins is not funded and is not included in the design contract,” the spokesperson said. “There are no future development of the basins and there are no future developments for basins three, two or one in the process.”
Dozens of other residents questioned the proposed diagonal gravel road access plan through the center of the park, and whether it is the most efficient plan.
The Parks Department’s Queens capital team leader Joelle Byrer explained that the plan chosen to decommission is in fact the most effective to maintain an accessible walkway for parkgoers.
“That really is the lightest touch,” Byrer said, pointing out the proposed entry point through basin one along Vermont Avenue. “By going through basin three,” she explained as she pointed to the northeast corner of the park, “we allow the basin walkways to be open to the community at all times.”