Indian Pond is Fieldston’s beating heart. A small, tranquil park surrounded by towering trees, it has delighted generations of children, who come to feed the ducks or watch the fish roil the water as they jostle for the scraps of bread the youngsters toss.
If Wave Hill boasts the most majestic natural beauty in Riverdale, Indian Pond offers the most domestic.
Now, that tranquility and beauty is being threatened. The owners of a home and property just outside the perimeter of the park want to build three more houses and slash a long driveway to the street. To do so, they would topple 50 trees, some of them as old or older than Riverdale’s first settlers.
Nor is this a matter of concern only to nearby homeowners. Despite the insurance-company-dictated signs that say the area is for Fieldston residents only, the pond has long welcomed all, without regard to whether they rent an apartment, own a co-op or occupy a house.
Indian Pond’s trees provide shelter to blue jays and cardinals, crows and starlings, chickadees, woodpeckers, warblers, wrens and orioles, and to larger birds, as well. Hawks are frequent visitors. A horned owl took up residence a couple of years ago, as did a black-crowned night heron. And this year, a great blue heron made its appearance. All of them would be displaced by years of construction and the destruction of their habitat.
At a recent meeting of residents concerned about this plan, the developer, his architect and his lawyer made soothing noises. Residents needn’t worry, they said, because the city’s regulators would look after their interests.
It was a claim as insulting as it was disingenuous. The proposal for Indian Pond offers a textbook example of the way influence is peddled in our city.
The developers have hired the law firm Davidoff Malito & Hutcher, which boasts that it is “the largest lobbying organization in Albany and New York City,” working “closely with legislative leaders, city and state agencies and administrative departments.” That’s a fancy way of saying: “We’re political fixers.”