The Highland Park Ridgewood Reservoir has been resurrected.
A crowd of politicians, civic leaders and members of the community oversaw the reservoir’s grand opening on Tuesday, October 15, 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,” 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.”
“Highland Park has long been one of the city’s best places to catch a glimpse of native and migrating birds or to enjoy the changing foliage,” said Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White. “Thanks to [this investment], it is now a great place to exercise, and even more accessible to all New Yorkers.”
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 Queens 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.
There is no money allocated to the master plan as yet and current ideas have to be reviewed and presented to the community boards again.