Citing concerns about the environmental impact, increased truck traffic, and the vendor selection process, New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. today announced that his office has rejected a contract by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to develop a portion of the Ridgewood Reservoir into sports fields.
In a letter to Parks’ Chief Contracting Officer, the Comptroller’s Office returned the contract “to allow additional time for your agency to respond to our concerns pertaining to potential scope changes due to environmental review uncertainties and for administrative issues.”
THOMPSON REJECTS CONTRACT TO TURN RIDGEWOOD RESERVOIR INTO SPORTS FIELDS
Parks submitted the $3.3 million contract forged with Mark K. Morrison Associates LTD (MMA) for registration on May 29. The agreement called for MMA to provide landscape design services for the reconstruction of Highland Park at the Ridgewood Reservoir site in Queens.
Parks has been considering a $50 million “renovation” project that would replace a large swath of Ridgewood wilderness with athletic fields, claiming that the project is necessary to help combat child obesity. However, Thompson has consistently urged the City to rethink its plans to develop the 50-acre site.
Thompson also cautioned that Parks was in the process of meeting with agencies regarding environmental assessment issues, and that an Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) EAS could be included as a separate fee in any proposal. That information would help in determining whether adverse effects on the environment may be significant enough to warrant further analysis.
The Comptroller further questioned the selection process. The vendor was selected from among three participants through a quasi-competitive process. Thompson noted that changes to the design that may arise from the environmental and public assessments may significantly impact the vendor’s proposal.
“Given the sensitive ecological nature of the location, we strongly believe that the environmental assessment process must have maximum transparency,” the letter reads. “In that light, we are also concerned that it may be a conflict of interest to have the EAS vendor be a subcontractor to the architect, who has a vested interest in pursuing the construction.”
Thompson's letter to Parks is here: Ridgewood Letter