NYCkayaker boathouses on the Hudson river in NYC

Rob Buchanan
Wed Nov 1 18:12:10 EST 2006

"Why can't/won't the city or Trust allow me (and any other adult) to use a
ramp and floating dock near my home at my own risk?"

When it comes to the waterfront and specifically Hudson River Park, I agree
with the general wisdom of avoiding infighting and presenting a united
front. But I also think Davis' question is a good one that shouldn't be
overlooked or brushed aside our (well-intentioned) haste to get along with
the Trust. 

The best argument for open access is that many other parts of the city
already enjoy it. The Parks Department has designated half a dozen
'official' launch sites for unaffiliated boaters at various spots around the
harbor, and with the construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park and the like, more
are on the way. It doesn't seem fair or consistent that a six-mile stretch
of Lower Manhattan should be off-limits to the unaffiliated boater.

No doubt the Trust and its lawyers have safety and liability concerns, but
it's hard to see why those couldn't be addressed in the same way the Parks
Department has addressed them: with a simple permit system. And if it's not
the boating itself, but the use of Trust docks and piers, that seems to be
the stumbling block, then here's a modest proposal: forget the docks and
piers, and allow residents to slide their boats over the promenade railing
directly to the river's edge. I can see at least two places where this could
work: one is the little low-tide beach on the south side of Pier 76, just
north of  34th street, and the other the rip-rapped southern edge of
Gansevoort Peninsula, at the end of West 10th Street (a bit treacherous
there right now, but with a bit of rock rearrangement, perfectly feasible).

Another thing to think about is how to prevent the Trust's access policies
from becoming the template for new and pending waterfront parks and
revitalization projects. The Economic Development Corporation's East River
Promenade and Piers Project, in Lower Manhattan, is a good example; there's
a beach in a great spot with obvious potential to be a public launch, but
the EDC and the local community board need to hear some support for the idea
from the boating community.

I guess what I'm saying is, sure, let's push for new boathouses and more
storage on the piers, but let's not forget the bedrock principle here, which
is open access to the foreshore.

--Rob Buchanan

On 11/1/06 11:48 AM, "Janowski, Davis" <> wrote:

> I did do that very thing (bought a folding kayak), but it is no panacea.
> The lemonade Mr. Softee refers to needs some sugar.
> First let me get this out of the way. I think the DTBH is the noblest of
> endeavors and I dote on it among my colleagues and friends all the time
> and extol the virtuous nature of its mission as well as declare it the
> best free thing to do in Manhattan bar none.
> That said I was born and raised in Florida and spent the majority of my
> free time growing up on or in the water with my father. I've been a
> scuba diver, fisherman, spear fisherman, marine archaeological
> enthusiast and volunteer for the last two decades. Before that I was a
> flounder gigger, crabber (the chicken net on a string method as well as
> the net-in-the-surf method), cast netter, catfish trot-liner, canoeist,
> bushwhacking canoeist as well as power boater from the time I was a
> tike. I moved to NYC for my career and wife's career and it meant big
> tradeoffs. First, we're both career journalists and that means that the
> bulk of our salary has gone for housing and now that we have a young
> daughter child care and education. My boating is much less a part of my
> life here but I look forward to it no less---probably even more so since
> actually getting on the water is a rarity.
> Why the long drawn out explanation? All I want is free and unfettered
> access to the water, which in Florida always seemed an innate human
> right at least on public land. There is a plethora of public boat ramps
> that can be used without anyone watching over them at most any time of
> the day and into the night. At public ramps you don't have to check in
> with anyone, sign a waiver or have some fresh-faced volunteer who hasn't
> a fingernail's worth of experience on the water I do questioning me
> about launching.
> This is in no way an attack on the DTBH, I fully support its mission,
> I'm fully aware that without its efforts there would be no public
> human-powered access to the water (and doubt that the 79th Street Boat
> Basin would be as open as it is now kayakers). What I seek though with
> my trips on the water is a sense of freedom and solitude, it's an
> escape. For me it's not nearly as enjoyable when it is a group
> experience.
> Perhaps some of the liability lawyers on the list could elaborate on why
> this cannot be done here in Manhattan? Why can't/won't the city or Trust
> allow me (and any other adult) to use a ramp and floating dock near my
> home at my own risk? In this case I'm really really really hoping I'll
> be allowed this freedom at Pier 84, but thus far I haven't gotten a
> straight answer out of any Trust or public officials. I've tried to go
> to several of the CB4 waterfront committee meetings to lend my voice on
> this, but like I've said I have a young daughter that I usually have to
> pick up from daycare after work and the 6 pm timing of the meetings
> never seems to work out.
> Again, just venting and raising this as a question and philosophical
> discussion, not an attack.
> Davis D. Janowski
> Lead Analyst for Web Services & Software
> Formerly Section Editor
> Consumer Networking, GPS products, Phones & PDAs (mobile & VoIP)
> PC Magazine Online & Print
> 11th Floor 
> 28 E. 28th Street
> New York, NY 10016-7930
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of Mr. Softeee
> Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2006 10:09 AM
> To:;
> Subject: Re: NYCkayaker boathouses on the Hudson river in NYC
> Hey!
>      Here we go! A voice of reason! Thats why I like you Jim! A problem
> solver!
>      If you can't store your kayak get a folding boat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
> It's 
> called making lemonade out of lemons!!!!!!!!!!!!!
>> From: "Jim Bixler" <>
>> To:
>> Subject: Re: NYCkayaker boathouses on the Hudson river in NYC
>> Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2006 05:39:10 -0500
>> Two-words: Folding Boat
>> Keep it behind your couch and you don't have to volunteer at DTBH
>>> Message: 3
>>> Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2006 18:46:21 -0500
>>> From: mike pidel <>
>>> Subject: Re: NYCkayaker boathouses on the Hudson river in NYC
>>> To: "'Nancy Brous'" <>,
>>> Message-ID: <00b401c6fd46$c57428a0$0200a8c0@e510>
>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>>> The church of the downtown boathouse always brings up these
> arguments.
>>> There are other churches out there.
>>> In fact with the current method of boat storage at the DTBH is very
>>> exclusionary to the public, only certain people are allowed to store
>>> their boats there.
>>> If they truly believed in what is posted, there would be no private
>>> boats in the DTBH. Very few paddlers have the amount of time to set
>>> aside to do the volunteer work that is required.
>>> In NYC parks there are private restaurants, concessions, softball
> fields
>>> with a hierarchy of fee's to third party operators.
>>> 79 th street marina is a subsided large vessel storage facility, the
>>> chelsa piers was sold at below market rate, I believe it was supposed
> to
>>> have public access to the water.
>>>  They are Dog runs, skateboards parks,  private trapeze schools in
> the
>>> park.   The tennis courts at central park have locker rooms with
> private
>>> storage available. The model boat house in central park has storage
> for
>>> the private model boats.
>>> Every free on street parking space is subsided public space.  I
> wouldn't
>>> doubt the 79th street marina has subsided indoor parking for the
> power
>>> boat owners.
>>> I am hoping the the pier 66 facility turns out with a storage
> facility
>>> for the people that just want to paddle.
>>> My concern was that if the DTBH is denied their original downtown
>>> location, they may try to compete for the pier 66 location.
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From:
>>> [] On Behalf Of Nancy Brous
>>> Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 12:02 PM
>>> To:
>>> Subject: NYCkayaker boathouses on the hudson river in NYC
>>> mike, i assume that you refer to the downtown boathouse in the below
>>> post?
>>> i would like to provide a little background information which might
>>> broaden your perspective on boathouses on the hudson in NYC.
>>> hudson river park, the subject of this article, occupies just about 6
>>> miles of the hudson river waterfront in nyc (roughly from the top of
>>> rockefeller park to 59th street).  that is hardly the whole of NYC's
>>> hudson waterfront.  there is a NYC Parks Department-run human-powered
>>> boating launch and storage facility at 79th street, and a canoe club
> at
>>> inwood.
>>> the hudson river park act provided for the construction of 4 new
> public
>>> boathouses to be built on this public land with public funds at piers
>>> 26, 66, 84, and 96.
>>> right now 2 of the boathouses are complete:  piers 96 and 84.  (84 is
>>> yet to open for use).
>>> almost 2 years ago a request for proposals (rfp) was issued for the
>>> operation of the first boathouse to come online, at pier 96.  this is
> an
>>> open and fairly transparent process.  i personally posted the
>>> information here and on many other lists around the country, as did
> many
>>> other members of the park's advisory council, park officials, and
>>> concerned members of the public.  anyone was welcome to submit a
>>> proposal.
>>> only the downtown boathouse submitted a proposal for operation of
> that
>>> facility.  they now operate that facility.
>>> the next boathouse to open will be at 44th street. it will be
> operated
>>> by Floating the Apple.  there was no rfp process for this facility.
>>> this organization was chosen by the hudson river park trust in a
> closed
>>> process.
>>> another rfp will be released in the next few weeks for an operator
> for
>>> the next boathouse to be completed, at pier 66 (26th street).  again,
>>> this will be open to anyone who chooses to make a proposal for its
>>> operation.
>>> when that rfp comes out i will post the info here and elsewhere.
>>> the operation of the new pier 26 boathouse was to be determined
> through
>>> an rfp process as well, but if this article is correct, that process
> may
>>> now be indefinitely delayed.
>>> while jim wetteroth's being interviewed for this article may appear
> to
>>> suggest that he expects his organization to eventually operate that
>>> boathouse, if you read carefully, he is quoted at least in part
> because
>>> he was at the CB1 waterfront committee meeting.  the interviewer's
>>> description of the dtbh programs is actually a bit out of context, in
> my
>>> opinion.
>>> as mr. wetteroth has operated a public boating facility in the area
> for
>>> nearly 20 years, his comments provide useful insight into the current
>>> financial issues facing the new boathouse for any operator, not just
> the
>>> dtbh program.  while the new boathouse at pier 96 is quite nice
> (running
>>> water and heat in the winter, as mentioned) a facility for seasonal
>>> boating use could certainly function quite well without such
> "luxuries"
>>> if it meant the difference between a fully appointed facility and no
>>> facility at all.
>>> there are many individuals and organizations (including but certainly
>>> not limited to the dtbh) throughout this city and general area who
> work
>>> tirelessly to ensure the future of human-powered boating and free
> public
>>> water-access for this entire community.
>>> and we are a community, not a series of competing factions out to
>>> monopolize the boathouses and the waterfront.
>>> i encourage everyone on this list to keep an eye out for the rfp when
> it
>>> is released, to make proposals for its operation, to use their
> energies
>>> constructively, and to generally act like the community of people
> with a
>>> common goal that we are, or should be.
>>> nancy brous
>>> metropolitan region director
>>> HRWA
>>> <<
>>> Today's Topics:
>>>    1.  Tribeca's boathouse on Hudson Park's chopping block (mike
> pidel)
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Message: 1
>>> Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2006 15:51:13 -0400
>>> From: mike pidel <>
>>> Subject: NYCkayaker Tribeca's boathouse on Hudson Park's chopping
>>>         block
>>> To:
>>> Message-ID: <00e101c6faca$6e4596f0$0200a8c0@e510>
>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>>> Why does one  organization try and monopolize all the boathouses on
> the
>>> Hudson?
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