CB5Q submitted its recommendations in July consisting of seven points that needed to be addressed, including the construction of a six-foot wrought iron fence with spikes at the top to deter trespassers and the construction of a pedestrian bridge that goes over high-traffic Vermont Place to the reservoir.
Much to the dismay of CB5Q, the Queens Borough [Parks] Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski wrote back in August that the Parks Department would likely take a different direction on most of the points; to name a few, the wrought iron fence in question would be four feet tall and instead of a “cost-prohibitive” pedestrian bridge over Vermont Place, an ADA-approved ramp would be constructed at Vermont Place, where a stop sign would also be installed.
And while both parties agreed that they wanted as little light as possible spilling into the reservoir basins, which house many species of birds and plants and serve as an East Coast fly-by for birds heading south, they couldn’t agree on where to place the electrical service conduit and lighting fixtures.
The Parks Department’s lighting plan costs an extra $90,000. According to Kevin Quinn, Capitol Projects Team Leader for Queens under the Parks Department, the construction budget for phase one is $7.6 million.
“We always try to give the community what they want, but we need to operate the parks, so there are certain operational concerns we need to look at,” said Quinn.
Steven Fiedler, Co-Chair of CB5Q’s Parks Committee, disagreed. He said the Parks Department rejected CB5Q’s proposal just days after it was submitted, ignoring the suggestions made in the public listening sessions on the Ridgewood Reservoir that have been going on for the last two years.
“My objective here is to make sure the Parks Department realizes, one, they’re not listening to the community and, two, phase one has to enhance phases two and three,” said Fiedler, emphasizing the need for a high fence around the perimeter of the basins to ensure that the reservoir remains wild.
He said that, for example, a higher fence would protect the reservoir’s wildlife for the implementation of phases two and three, which may include something like a boardwalk down in the basins for exploratory and educational purposes.
The master plans for the next phase will be unveiled at the end of the month. Fiedler said the community boards are advocating for a plan that will leave the reservoir natural as it is now. Other options include the construction of on-site sports fields or mixed-use.
CB5Q enlisted the written and voiced support of over a dozen elected officials and community groups including Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblyman Mike Miller, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces.
“They’re not listening to us. They’re designing in a box like they always do and they’re wasting money,” said Fiedler. “It’s a terrible waste of money.”