From the Forum West:
The first phase of the project recently began and includes new lighting, steps, benches and perimeter fences to improve safety and accessibility at the reservoir. Mark K. Morrison Associations of Manhattan was awarded the $7.7 million contract for that work, and is also in the process of creating three proposals for the future of the property’s three basins.
That $7.7 million has already been allocated and is not included in the $19.8 million remaining for Ridgewood Reservoir, according to Steve Fiedler, who is chairman of Community Board 5’s Parks Committee and opposes development of ballfields.
[Parks] noted that ballfields have been requested by community groups such as the East Brooklyn Congregations.
However, a study by the group Highland Park-Ridgewood Reservoir Alliance, which is pushing for the three basins to be preserved, showed that permits were issued for the existing ballfields for just a fraction of the available time during the past two years.
Fiedler questioned the motives of the East Brooklyn Congregations and doubts their claims that they cannot secure time at Highland Park’s existing fields. “His organization is pushing for fields at the top of basin three on eight acres, for what reason God only knows,” he said. “I hate to say that someone is lying for political gains, but the proof is in the pudding,” he added regarding the field usage.
From the Daily News:
East Brooklyn Congregations, an umbrella group of more than 30 Brooklyn churches and community groups, wants 8 acres of the 50-acre reservoir to be developed into two regulation-sized fields - one for soccer and football, the other for baseball.
"Everybody that we have talked to has said, 'If you want to give us anything in that reservoir, give us fields for active recreation," said Bishop David Benke, head of the Lutheran Church in the eastern region of the state.
Hmm...that's a very different attitude coming from the Reverend than 2 years ago... From the Times Newsweekly, July 5, 2007:
Recreation and education at the reservoir were the central themes of a renovation plan developed by a team consisting of Bishop David Benke, pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Cypress Hills, Roy Sawyer, community liaison for Assemblyman Towns and Sam and Ana Franqui of the Highlanders East New York United Front.
According to Bishop Benke, the team was focused on recreating Ridgewood Reservoir as an educational and passive recreation center for residents in Brooklyn and Queens. One main component of the plan, as he described to participants, would be the formation of an environmental center at the easternmost basin ideal for students who can venture to the park on field trips to study wildlife and plant growth in the chamber.
While reserving the middle basin as a man-made lake with fish, the bishop explained, the westernmost basin would be created into a botanical garden with greenhouses and a picnic area for students and parkgoers to gather. Benke also suggested that a new observation deck could be built in the southern section of the chamber to allow visitors to see sections of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Jamaica Bay from one of the highest points on Long Island.
So what the heck changed in the course of a few months? Here it is in one sentence:
When the city sells you lots o'land for $1 (upon which you construct vast quantities of Brooklyn Crap) and then they call in a favor, you do what they ask, otherwise, you might get cut off...
The real story goes like this: Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and Highland Park Administrator Debbie Kuha called Bishop Benke to the Overlook, gave him a debriefing and a presentation on a disc which contained the now-infamous "Secret Slide" and then told him to bring it back to his congregation and present it to them. (The preservation-minded had to settle for a leaked copy.) Then he was asked to follow up on this by showing up with kids in tow to demand sports fields at the city council oversight hearing held about the reservoir issue. Parks is notorious for orchestrating these dog-and-pony shows of false support for their unpopular initiatives in public forums. EBC has been at every public meeting since. This group has never even applied for a field permit at Highland Park.
When you bring up things like this, the argument then becomes that there are no "regulation-sized" fields at Highland (which seems to come as a surprise to the teams that do use them and say that they are). So if that is the case, then take the unused ballfields that are there currently and turn them into regulation-sized fields. Problem solved. Oh...hold on, Parks will tell you that the fields are used for many hours of pickup ball play and team practices which don't require permits. Which they might be able to get away with if there were actually people observed using the fields during "prime time" for ball play. Too bad there aren't.
After they run out of excuses, Parks then states that the money is only to be used inside the basins, even though their own press release states that the money is to be used to fix the infrastructure in Highland Park in order to make it a "destination park." So the fields must be built inside and the ones on the outside must remain in their present condition. Do you better understand this ridiculous waste of taxpayer money?
The "affordable housing" tweeders love the bishop and despite separation of church and state, they took it upon themselves to pass a resolution to support him after the leadership of his church sanctioned him. Now he is being used by Council Member Erik Martin Dilan to push for construction inside the basins.
Someone has been promised gigantic construction contracts out of this and the tweeders never anticipated that the opposition would be so overwhelming to what they want to do here. So they manufactured their own resistance movement.
As many have commented here, it's time to BRING IN THE FEDS!
More to come.