From Save Ridgewood Reservoir, re: a recent "Parks Roundtable" held at the Queens Civic Congress:
David Quintana was called on and asked Ms. Lewandowski why she was not being straightforward about the Parks Dept's plan to cut down about 100 mature trees during phase 1 which is scheduled to start this Fall. That's right - 65 trees will be removed around the edge of the basins and 35 near the Jackie Robinson Parkway to allow for a handicapped entrance. [Dorothy] replied that the trees being cut down were more like weeds that had implanted themselves in the walls of the basins and would have to be removed anyway. She said that a forester was consulted and approved the removal of each tree.
Quintana pressed on about the DEC possibly declaring the area as a wetland. Lewandowski replied that the DEC has not declared it a wetland because they would have to consider each basin individually and that each basin is not large enough to be designated. She claimed those are the rules and expressed confidence that the reservoir will not be declared a wetland for that reason showing no concern whatsoever about the diverse life found within the basins.
Later on, Henry Euler asked about whether budget cuts would affect the plans for phase 1. She responded that the money was still there for phase 1 and again said that the Parks Dept planned to move ahead with it in coming months. She said they were also ready to present their 3 plans for phase 2 to the Community Boards, but that the DEC stepped in and said they were investigating whether the reservoir could be classified as a dam and not a wetland. She claimed that if the DEC does classify the reservoir as a dam, then all three basins would have to be denuded of vegetation in order to prepare them to receive water again. She claimed that Parks is working hard to ensure that doesn't happen.
Her entire explanation made no sense and does not jibe with the statements that DEC released to the press when asked about the issue. Two attendees sitting in front of me turned around and suggested that she had been making these things up as she went along.
From the DEC's website:
To be protected under the Freshwater Wetlands Act, a wetland must be 12.4 acres (5 hectares or larger). Wetlands smaller than this may be protected if they are considered of unusual local importance. Around every wetland is an 'adjacent area' of 100 feet that is also regulated to provide protection for the wetland.
The basin they want to develop is 21 acres. But even if it were below 12.4 acres, surely it has enough 'unusual local importance' to meet the alternate criteria.
As for the "dam"... the reservoir never dammed up anything. The water was pumped there from the east, uphill, and held there for consumption. There was no natural stream that had to be held back to prevent flooding.
THE BASINS ARE AT THE TOP OF A TERMINAL MORAINE.
Nice try, though.