From Save Ridgewood Reservoir:
The members of the team in which I participated, which included the Latin American Soccer Association, made it clear from the start that we were not interested in placing active recreational facilities within the basins. By the end of the event, it was certain that the majority of the people participating felt the same way. Six out of eight teams were opposed to destroying the unique habitats within the basins and preferred to see it used for environmental education and passive recreation. A protected nature sanctuary was clearly what most people had in mind. A team dominated by members of the Bushwick Baseball Associated placed fields in basin 3. However, their spokesperson also said that if the department of parks fixed up and maintained the current fields in Highland Park, it would not be necessary to build within the reservoir. This begged the question, if fields were built in the basins, would they ultimately face the same lack of maintenance and neglect as the current fields?
Many people I spoke with after the session came away with the impression that the community's desires and opinions did not matter. Is the outcome of this process a foregone conclusion? A lot of money has already been spent organizing the listening sessions for 2007 and, now, 2009. Moneys have also been paid to the design team to survey park patrons at Highland Park and the Ridgewood Reservoir. Each time the results were the same - people do not want to destroy the natural habitats they want Highland Park fixed up and the reservoirs kept as a nature preserve. However, even with that information in hand, the first plan submitted to the City Comptroller (which was rejected) called for filling in the largest basin with 27,000 large truckloads of fill. Does the majority opinion no longer count in New York City? Where is the democratic process? Why is it that the vast majority of the community called for preservation, the two community boards voted unanimously for preservation, yet the design team did exactly the opposite?