Natasha Ishak

[email protected]

If you take the B13 bus from Wyckoff Avenue on Grove Street, it would take you roughly 40 minutes to get to the Ridgewood Reservoir, which sits on the border between Brooklyn and Queens. If you prefer the subway, accessing the reservoir’s front entrance on Vermont Place would be almost a mile walk from the closest station on Van Siclen Avenue.

Admittedly not an incredibly difficult journey — at least for an able-bodied resident — to go through, but it does require some effort to get there. Advocates like Matt Malina of NYCH2O want to make this “natural treasure” more accessible to the public by campaigning for bus stops at the reservoir.

NYCH2O is a not-for-profit organization that has held educational programs for students through field trips to the reservoir over the last five years. The organization has been an active advocate and keeper of the reservoir, having successfully secured protective status for the 150-year-old Ridgewood Reservoir earlier in January. 

Now that the reservoir is a bonafide green oasis in the city, Malina wants to get more people to come and enjoy its lush surroundings.

Field trip at the Ridgewood Reservoir.

“The Ridgewood Reservoir is an incredible resource for the community,” Malina, who sits as founder and executive director of NYCH2O, told Bushwick Daily over the phone. “We want to make it more accessible to the [surrounding] community and the larger community of the city.”

This year, Malina’s organization launched an email campaign to add a bus stop at the reservoir after the MTA announced that it was planning to redesign the decades old bus routes cutting through Queens. Residential changes happening in neighborhoods like Long Island City, Flushing, and Jamaica, and the slowing of bus speeds due to congestion were reasons behind the restructuring of the route.

Since the reservoir sits on the border with Queens, it was the perfect opportunity to launch the reservoir bus stop campaign. NYCH2O sent emails to supporters urging them to submit adding the reservoir bus stop through the MTA’s community survey for the bus route redesign. Malina said that 136 email recipients had clicked through to support the cause.

According to Malina, most of the reservoir’s visitors get their by car. But even on the weekends, the parking lot near Highland Park, which is adjacent to the reservoir, gets overcrowded and leaves no space for private vehicles to park. 

“So the [new] bus stop would not only serve the reservoir, but Highland Park in general,” Malina pointed out. 

Nature path at the Ridgewood Reservoir.

Park and community advocate Laura Leale, who has lived by Highland Park and the reservoir for the last 12 years, describes the Ridgewood Reservoir as an undiscovered gem. 

“Just thinking about the environment, thinking about green stuff, it makes total sense to add on an additional access point,” Leale said. “It’s really about access.” She also mentioned the overcrowding of the parking lot by Highland Park as an issue that surfaces every weekend.

Currently, the B13 bus takes residents right up to Cypress Hills Streets on Cypress Avenue, where they would then get off and walk about two blocks to get to the back of the reservoir. Leale said that the bus stop was unnoticeable.

Community advocates have campaigned to add a bus stop at the Ridgewood Reservoir before. In 2017, Queens Community Board 5 made its second attempt to propose the addition of a bus stop at the reservoir to the MTA. 

A letter from the Queens CB5 addressed to the MTA Bus Company President President Darryl C. Irick shared with Bushwick Daily shows that the board cited NYCH2O’s recommendation that “the Q39 and/or B12 bus routes be extended” so the public could visit the Ridgewood Reservoir. The request for extensions to either routes was denied.

Ridgewood Reservoir water basin.

An email response from a MTA New York City Transit representative cited a report from the MTA Bus Company that found both additions would require between one to five mile extensions to the bus routes and adding more buses to keep the current routes on schedule. The amount of people transferring on the B12 route to Highland Park and its surroundings, according to the email, did not justify the cost of route extensions and additional buses that would be needed for a new bus stop at the reservoir.

But Malina believes that an accessible bus stop at Ridgewood Reservoir would eventually attract more people to the city oasis.

“Right now, I’d say most people are still not aware that the Ridgewood Reservoir exists,” he said. “It’s a national landmark and a nature preserve… it’s really a treasure that should be shared with as many people in this city as possible so they can enjoy it.”

Images courtesy of NYCH20. Cover image courtesy of Ryan Struck.

For more news, sign up for Bushwick Daily’s newsletter.