Borough President Diaz, Elected Officials & Community Leaders Call for Greater Public Access to Jerome Park Reservoir
Borough President Diaz will host a hearing in June to solicit public input on access plans
Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined together with a coalition of elected officials to call for greater public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir. Borough President Diaz also announced that he would host a public hearing in June to solicit greater input from Bronxites on the future of public access to Jerome Park Reservoir.
“This community treasure has been left unused for far too long,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “It is time for the collective voice of the northwest Bronx to be heard, and for the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a plan for real community access to the Jerome Park Reservoir.”
In March, the Department of Environmental Protection released a disappointing report, two years in the making, that calls for a three-day pilot program for pedestrian access to the Jerome Park Reservoir in 2013. Borough President Diaz said that while he understood the security concerns put forward by the DEP regarding public use of the Jerome Park Reservoir, he felt that those concerns could be addressed well enough to allow for greater public access to the reservoir.
To that end, the borough president’s office will host a public hearing to allow Bronxites a chance to voice their own opinions on greater public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir. That hearing will be held on Thursday, June 2, 2011, at Vladeck Hall in the Amalgamated Houses located at 74 Van Cortlandt Park South (on the corner of Hillman Avenue and Van Cortlandt Park South). The hearing will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“I urge everyone who is interested in seeing the Jerome Park Reservoir opened to the public to come to this hearing and make their voice heard. The reservoir was designed, built and opened as a park, and access should be returned to the community,” said Borough President Diaz.
“Jerome Park Reservoir is that rarity in any crowded urban area, a large expanse of water in a quiet surrounding. This makes it ideal for neighbors to walk around it or to sit in front of it and just relax. Let’s not let this opportunity go to waste; there is no reason why people cannot enjoy this park and still keep it secure,” said Congressman Eliot Engel.
"We are very concerned over the extremely limited proposals for access by the DEP. We need to explore ways in which we can provide substantially more access without sacrificing public safety,” said Council Member G. Oliver Koppell.
“The residents of the northwest Bronx have a right to enjoy the area around the Jerome Park Reservoir in the same way that the residents of Manhattan have the right to enjoy Central Park,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “The Department of Environment Protection and Parks should be held to their commitment to make this area more accessible to Bronxites and should have to address the concerns of the community regarding their most recent plans. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in calling for greater access to the area around the Jerome Park Reservoir as well as greater community involvement in determining the future of one of our community’s most precious resources.”
“The time has come for greater community access to the Jerome Park Reservoir. We've waited too long. I grew up across the street from the reservoir. While I was able to enjoy its beauty by looking outside from my living room window or by standing outside the fence, there is no rational reason why the fences are so far from the water. We have an incredible resource in the northwest Bronx. Why is the public denied the ability to enjoy it? DEP's ridiculous proposal to give the public very limited access for a few days in the year 2013 is an insult to our community. The time for greater public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir is now!” said Assembly Member Jeff Dinowitz.
"In a borough with over 52,000 people per square mile, every inch of open space is critically important to improving the quality of life for Bronx citizens. Full access to the Jerome Park Reservoir is extremely important to our community and I support every effort being made to ensure full and prompt access to our precious open spaces. I applaud the leadership on this issue by the Bronx Borough President and support his efforts to resolve this important matter," said Assembly Member Naomi Rivera.
“There should be greater public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir due to negotiations over the filtration plant in 2004. The Department of Environmental Protection promised the reservoir would become a park similar to the Central Park Reservoir. The opening of this reservoir is more necessary now with the hot summer days approaching so the Bronx community can enjoy taking part in some recreational activities,” said Assembly Member Jose Rivera.
“The walkway should be made public in a matter that does not compromise security in any way. In addition, jobs for our community should be made a priority,” said Paul Foster, chairman of Community Board #7.
“Community Board #8 has fought for public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir for close to twenty years, including this in our comprehensive rezoning plan in the 90’s. It’s time for the DEP to once again allow the people of the Bronx to enjoy this historic and beautiful part of our community,” said Damian McShane, chairman of Community Board #8.
“The Department of Environmental Protection wasted valuable time and money concocting a report on access to Jerome Park Reservoir that essentially gives no access to Jerome Park Reservoir. The reservoir is the people’s property. The people have a right to enjoy their property,” said Fr. Richard Gorman, chairman of Community Board #12.
"I applaud the Borough President, and the other elected officials of the Bronx, for stepping forward to demand that Jerome Park once again become a reservoir park. The public has been locked out of this beautiful and historic site for way too long, and their presence inside the fence will likely lead to a more secure water supply, as people protect what they love," said Anne Marie Garti, president and founding member of the Jerome Park Conservancy.
“The Jerome Park Reservoir is an incredible resource and a historic treasure that should be enjoyed by the community. We've always supported access to Jerome Park Reservoir. We've been promised time and again by DEP commissioners that regular access to the reservoir will be granted, and we intend to hold them to that promise,” said Kristin Hart, president of the Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association
“The people of the community should have had access to the reservoir generations ago, just as people have had access to reservoirs in other communities. Public access can be accommodated without threatening the security of the water supply system. It should be done as soon as possible,” said Ed Yaker, tenant leader at the Amalgamated Houses.