Construction begins at Ridgewood Reservoir

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Construction on the Ridgewood Reservoir is in full swing, which pleased some park-goers but continued to enrage community activists.

Nearly half of the path that winds around the parcel of wilderness is closed to the public as construction crews tear out sections of fence and cut down trees along the edge.

“It’s going to be beautiful, we’re very happy to be working on it,” said one of the construction workers from a Maspeth construction company, who won the contract bid to revamp the green space.

The company will be replacing some of the stone slabs on the edge of the reservoir, installing new lights around the inner circumference of the path and placing benches near especially scenic views. A path that cuts down the middle of the reservoir between two of the large basins was previously off limits, but will also be open to the public under the new plan.

The company will also be installing a ramp to allow disabled residents access to the reservoir.

But one contentious change will be the new fence that is set to replace the chain link barrier that currently surrounds the reservoir.

The new fence will be about 4 feet tall instead of the nearly 8-foot version and has generated friction between the city Parks Department and Community Board 5. Representatives from the board believe the fence is too short and would allow curious explorers unencumbered access to the nature preserve.

“I can step over a 4-foot fence,” said Steve Fiedler, chairman of the board’s Parks Committee. “We want a deterrent.”

People already slip into the reservoir through the dilapidated, porous fence to sleep, consume alcohol, do drugs or even stage paintball matches, he said.

“There is no security there, no cops,” Fiedler said. “It’s a free-for-all.”

But Parks said the shorter fence will allow visitors to actually see the foliage.

Residents were split on whether the shorter fence would be an improvement.

“I think a smaller one is better,” said resident Jose Estebec. “You can actually see everything.”

Kamesha Scott disagreed, saying a taller fence is needed to keep out adventurous kids.

“If you have the kids who want to explore, they’re better off keeping it higher,” she said.

The construction is set to be complete in next spring.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 11:09 am, October 12, 2011
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