For years, the Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval has worked to improve conditions on Reservoir Oval so that all park users can enjoy their trip to the park. Because of the joint efforts of FOTWO, Community Board 7, and the Department of Transportation, there has been a huge improvement.

There is still additional work to be done to complete the missing sections of sidewalk, upgrade the painted walkways into permanent sidewalks, ensure the retaining wall that supports Reservoir Oval East is properly maintained, and resolve the remaining issues with poor sight lines. FOTWO will continue to be a powerful advocate to make sure the street around our park meets the needs of our community.


While we have a beautiful park, the street that rings it - Reservoir Oval - has never been completed and was not designed to carry vehicular traffic. Combining cars with the people walking to the park has been uncomfortable and at some locations felt unsafe. The Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval has worked hard for many years to bring improvements to this deficient street.

Reservoir Oval lacked crosswalks and sections of sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the street unprotected from traffic. Vehicles came around the curves too fast. Crossing locations lacked curb ramps for people in wheelchairs and parents with strollers. The signage and roadway markings were neglected. An area that was ambiguously paved, possibly sidewalk or perhaps part of the street, was used as a poorly organized and confusing parking area with inconsistent enforcement that sometimes resulted in inappropriate parking tickets.

FOTWO was a persistent advocate for the Department of Transportation to address the problems (writing letters, working with Community Board 7 and our elected officials, discussing the issues with the media, etc.). Ultimately, DOT worked with the community, holding a public workshop and taking input from FOTWO to find low-cost solutions that could be implemented quickly to address the worst of the problems.

The result is a crosswalk at each of the entrances to the park, walkways separated from the street with painted pavement and plastic bollards, a reduction of the speed limit from 30 to 20 mph, improved signage, and rationalization of the parking area with angled parking.

The new protected walkway at the tunnel entrance was made possible by
shifting the parking spaces. This narrows the roadway, causing cars to slow
down. It also creates a new plaza area right outside the tunnel
All new signage has been installed around the Oval. New angled parking
also replaced the confusing mess that used to be behind Mar y Tierra
News crosswalks and signage make pedestrians more visible at Holt Place
The roadway has been narrowed near the Keeper's House, slowing down
cars and reducing the distance pedestrians need to cross the street. The new
crosswalks and improved signage makes pedestrians more visible

New crosswalk with a neck down to shorten crossing distance, and signage at
the entrance near Wayne

Speed hump (which has been in place for a decade after an earlier advocacy
campaign by the community) with the new crosswalk in the background

Remaining Work
The work recently completed by DOT during Summer 2013 was a big step forward in fixing the problems with Reservoir Oval. We are not done yet, and we hope to continue partnering with DOT to finish the job.

The painted walkways were a terrific way to create space for pedestrians now, instead of waiting for funding and capital construction. Completing the construction is important, though, to curb the encroachment by illegally parked vehicles (note the van in the photo above of the Wayne entrance).

The No Standing zones are ineffective at providing sufficient sight lines

DOT has indicated that the intersections do not qualify for stop signs on Reservoir Oval, but we still have concerns about inadequate sight lines at some locations. The improvements were supposed to limit parking to improve visibility, but continued illegal parking is making those measures unreliable and ineffective. We believe it is additional evaluation is necessary to find more effective measures, whether stop signs or some other solution that actually works.

The area with the guardrail and overgrown with weeds, where there should
be a sidewalk, is property that the City owns

All maps and deeds we have found indicate the property where the sidewalk is missing between Reservoir Place and Holt Place is owned by the City of New York and part of the mapped street from the edge of the pavement to the base of the retaining wall. It is our belief that the City is responsible for maintaining the retaining wall that supports the street, which the City originally built for the reservoir. We also believe the City is responsible for the sidewalk at this location, just as it was under similar circumstances at Cannon Place.


See the presentation on the improvements from the New York City Department of Transportation: