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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More Jerome Park reservoir delays distress residents

By Shant Shahrigian
Karsten Moran/The Riverdale Press file photo
May 13, 2011 - Bronx, NY : Park Reservoir resident Gary Axelbank, far right, leads a group of local political appointees and representatives on a tour of the Jerome Park Reservoir on May 13. Axelbank lead the tour to highlight public access needs.
Sedgwick Ave. and Ft. Independence St.
Bronx, NY 10471

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has pushed back the expected completion date for the Jerome Park reservoir from this year to 2015. 

A fenced-off path at the site will remain closed to the public at least until the reservoir project’s completion — one of many bones of contention between the Croton Filtration Monitoring Committee (CFMC) and representatives of the beleaguered project to build a massive underground plant at the Mosholu Golf Course to filter drinking water from the upstate Croton reservoir system.

CFMC Chair Robert Fanuzzi, who also chairs Community Board 8, learned of the delays during a Dec. 9 tour of the path surrounding Jerome Park. Renovation of the park's reservoir is being done in conjunction with the construction of the filtration plant.

“That walkthrough really did give this committee, for better or worse — and obviously for worse — a heinous piece of news that really destroys a whole timeline that had been built up around the completion of the plant,” Mr. Fanuzzi said at a Dec. 12 CFMC meeting.

For years, residents have called for access to the paved path along with a range of other demands. A 2011 DEP report recommended public access to the path on a trial basis once the reservoir is complete.

Mr. Fanuzzi said CFMC would investigate why the reservoir’s completion date has been delayed. The DEP press office did not respond to an e-mail requesting clarification as of press time.

The DEP is funding 67 projects which authorities promised the Bronx in tandem with the Croton project. Mr. Fanuzzi called on the DEP to make the path around Jerome Park and other projects accessible to the public incrementally. “We’re owed it, and it’s our reservoir,” he said. “This should not be indefinitely put off into the future.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said unlike at Jerome Park, where the reservoir is completely surrounded by fences and closed to the public, reservoirs in upstate New York are accessible to the community.

“I’m not sure what the difference is between Bronxites and upstate people, but you can speculate on that,” Mr. Dinowitz remarked, echoing meeting attendees’ perception that there is a double standard for Bronx residents.

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