NYCkayaker boathouses on the Hudson river in NYC
Wed Nov 1 21:59:35 EST 2006
This is the most passion I've seen on this list for a while!!!
But it's understandable. These issues are important to all of us, which is
why I would like to remind everyone that there is a paddling COMMUNITY. This
community is made up of many constituencies each with their own vested
interests, but finally I believe there is a community interest in having a
diverse number of possible ways in which paddlers can enjoy the waterways
that abound in our city.
When I came to NYC in 1977, the idea of paddling in any of the area waters
was laughable. There was no way to even get close to the Hudson or East
Rivers. I heard stories of swimming rats, high concentrations of PCB's,
plutonium and missing mobsters in cement overcoats littering the river beds.
Let's not forget how incredible it is that we can even have a debate about
who should have access at who's expense.
I have never volunteered at the DTBH nor have I stored a boat there. But it
was a great place to launch a trip and meet other paddlers. Even when I
wasn't in the mood to paddle I would sometimes stop by to hang. In 1997 I
remembered taking a friend from Paris for a quick walk-up paddle. She was
amazed that such a place even existed in the midst of this metropolis and
commented that this is the type of thing that makes NYC great. I know of no
other major city that has such a facility.
To me, this cuts to the heart of using public funds to subsidize such places
as the DTBH. The mere existence of this sort of thing right next to the
skyscrapers benefits the entire community whether they use it or not. It's a
quality of life issues and it's what makes the city an attractive place to
live. I'm happy that my parking ticket money is being spent on something
meaningful for a change.
Sure, there aren't enough facilities. This is New York. There aren't enough
parking spaces, apartments or jobs either. That's the reality of living in
this city. But somehow there seem to be hundreds (maybe thousands) of
kayakers who nevertheless find a way to paddle.
And yes, there are different needs. As has been stated in the prior posts,
some want storage space, some only put-ins and a few are willing to
volunteer for a chance to benefit from free boat storage or use of a public
boat. All of these needs can and should be served. And for the most part
they are. There are several clubs providing facilities for reasonable
membership fees (they might also be funded with public money); there are
commercial operations, tour operators, volunteer groups, private storage and
public put-ins. We all benefit from this diversity because it makes our
sport visible, gives us many options as well as some political clout.
To me, the real issue here is that the we lost a functioning facility which
was to be replaced by something new and now we are hearing that it may not
happen. Wouldn't it be more constructive if we stopped being concerned about
our own special needs and philosophies to focus some pressure on the various
"deciders," to do what they said they were going to do?
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