NYCkayaker boathouses on the Hudson river in NYC

Rob Buchanan
Fri Nov 3 10:26:42 EST 2006

If you're going to bow out of a conversation with one last salvo, that's the
way to do it. Erik for mayor!

On 11/3/06 9:34 AM, "Erik Baard" <> wrote:

> Hi All,
> This conversation has run longer than I expected, but that's not a bad
> thing at all -- new ideas are being introduced and everyone is being
> civil. With that in mind, I'll pipe up for what I believe will be the
> last time.
> Urban planners tend to think in grand schemes, which is often
> disastrous. While we don't have a Robert Moses paving over bays and
> communities now, a much lesser evil has been that the greenways and
> waterfront parks fringing our city tend to be generic and sterile.
> Indeed, greenways and street end parks have in some cases eliminated
> water access -- at the end of Manhattan Avenue there used to be a dock
> made by rowers and paddlers with East River ApprenticeShop and the now
> defunct East River Kayak Club. Now that the city is turning that street
> end into a green park, future water access is in doubt and even if a
> launch is reinstalled it will be locked with keys granted only to an
> authorized operator. As one city official explained to me, "Well, before
> it was just neighborhood people putting in their own dock without
> informing the city. Now that it's going to be a park, the city is
> implicitly saying it's a good idea to go down to the water. That makes
> us more liable if anyone falls in."
> In principle I believe in very local control of neighborhood growth,
> especially on the waterfront. But the danger there is that community
> boards are often greatly influenced by developers with very little
> interest in the long-term health and potential of the neighborhoods they
> enter and alter.
> Both roll-out greenways and cookie-cutter developments have the
> unfortunate effect of homogenizing neighborhoods and disconnecting
> waterfronts from neighborhoods.
> To safeguard against the excesses of both tendencies may I suggest the
> following:
> 1) Give parks soft edges wherever possible. At Queensbridge Park, for
> example, the city is attempting to remove a crumbling retaining wall.
> Some residents want the wall and fence restored (worries about kids),
> but more desirable plans call for a sloping shoreline. Coves might be
> carved out of the straight shoreline, seemingly at the cost of a loss of
> some mature trees, but much of that motivation is to mitigate landfill
> across the water on the FDR Drive. But wherever a soft shoreline is
> restored, park officials and local boating and nature groups should
> aggressively educate people about water safety and ecology.
> 2) Create landing beaches and wetlands restorations at the base of walls
> where a fully soft edge is impossible and reasonable vessel traffic
> expectations allow. Some might object to landfill on the waterfront, but
> inert sand and healthy mud planted with marsh grasses and saltwater
> exposure tolerant native trees (leaving an unfettered beach landing
> zone) would be an ecological gain. As it is now, we have inland
> ecosystems abutting struggling marine ecosystems with no intertidal,
> littoral growth area connection to sustain either. The landing beach
> could be accessible via a ladder, though a ramp is ideal. A full
> landfill isn't necessary if a raised concrete platform, essentially a
> shelf, is adjoined to the wall.
> 3) Make small floating docks for rowers, kayakers and canoeists
> mandatory in sheltered areas and publicly supported museums. The North
> Cove marina at the World Financial Center should welcome paddlers, but
> might reasonably demand that they have marine radios since it's a blind
> approach. The South Street Seaport and USS Intrepid museums should
> safely welcome human-powered boats into their current-protected slips.
> This will also be a boon to tourism, especially from companies like
> NYKC, MKC, and AKT.
> 4) Install cleats and bollards where seawalls remain. On Sept. 11, 2001
> the tugs, ferries, and other boats that arrived to evacuate people from
> Battery Park City were forced to insecurely tie up to park benches,
> trees, and rails. There's little cost and much safety and aesthetic
> value gained by keeping even latent, decorative waterfronts minimally
> equipped for service. Moreover, in "Old New York" a tugboat could pull
> up to shore for a quick deli run (crews often don't sleep on land for
> days) and it would be great if in a few designated areas they, and other
> small vessels, could do so again. Pull-up time could even be restricted
> to an hour. Many strollers would love to see the boats up close and it
> reconnects industry with pleasure.
> 5) Bring living street ends up to the waterfront. One of the greatest
> joys of our harbor is pulling up to the soft edge of the Mitsua Market
> in Edgewater, NJ. Hassle-free, you kayak right into a little Asian
> (formerly primarily Japanese but now diversifying) shopping plaza. It's
> wonderful. Brooklyn, upper Manhattan, Queens, parts of the Bronx, and
> Staten Island don't have huge highways or train lines snaking along all
> of their waterfronts. Let's encourage development that allows for small
> stores and restaurants that reflect neighborhood character to have pride
> of place next to greenways. Towers that are set back a few extra yards
> will still have awesome views.
> 6) Bring a module approach to park design. Decorative elements like
> sculpture and gardens should be alterable, so that neighborhoods can
> tweak parks to reflect their changing ethnic character and other values.
> Maybe even segment greenways in some fashion to allow local control. I'd
> love to paddle up, or bike up, to festive lights, temporary
> installations, or other multicultural holiday expressions. Maybe even an
> open space for food cart vendors on the street side.
> Anyway, I hope some of these ideas are helpful. I'm sure there are many
> reasons why in many places they can't be implemented, but again, on a
> neighborhood-by-neighborhood level, perhaps a few might prove viable and
> desirable.
> Best regards,
> Erik Baard
>> David, those are all good points, and I can't disagree with any of them.
>> Certainly we need a multiplicity of put-in options, and small, cheap docks
>> and floats do make a lot of sense in many hard-edged places.
>> What I'm saying is that there are also a lot of natural put-ins, many of
>> them that we don't even notice, and that many more can be created with
>> minimal effort. One example: the way that hoboken boaters shifted the
>> rip-rap in frank sinatra park to create a natural landing. Another is the
>> opportunity that the parks department seems poised to miss in manhattan's
>> east river park, where the sea-wall is being rebuilt with several
>> rip-rap-filled 'embayments.' They could likely be modified to allow for
>> access or at least emergency egress, but apparently won't be.
>> Two other things I like about launching from the foreshore: one, it
>> encourages people to see the natural shoreline as something worth hanging
>> onto, and two, legally speaking, no one owns it--it belongs to the public.
>> With docks come the questions of ownership, maintenance, liability, etc.
>> --Rob
>>  On 11/3/06 6:56 AM, "David Gottlieb" <> wrote:
>>> Rob, we are not talking about docks for the Queen Mary or for the Sixth
>>> Fleet. I am suggesting small scale put ins -- whether they are tiny
> docks,
>>> ramps, or beaches. Small docks are not environmentally detrimental
> to the
>>> river. I would say that there is much more environmental damage
> created in
>>> producing one kayak, with all the effluents from chemicals and
> plastics that
>>> are part of the process of making a kayak.
>>> The NYC shore line, in many parts is rip-rap and landfill -- not
> exactly the
>>> original environment of the NYC shore line. A few minute put-ins
> here and
>>> there will not be deleterious to the environment.
>>> Little docks and ramps cause no environmental harm, and will allow
> access to
>>> human=powered boats.
>>> On 11/2/06 2:52 PM, "Rob Buchanan" <> wrote:
>>>> Docks are expenisve to install and maintain, get slippery, and
> aren't really
>>>> a step in the right direction as far as the health of the estuary is
>>>> concerned. Beaches--natural, restored, or accreted--are the way to
> go. And
>>>> there are lots of them:
>>>> On 11/2/06 12:04 PM, "David Gottlieb" <> wrote:
>>>>> However, to make boating around the boroughs safer, the city
> should install
>>>>> docks and/or other types of launch sites for boats every few
> miles, at a
>>>>> minimum, in case paddlers need to exit in an emergency.....
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> Erik Baard
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