NYCkayaker C.B. 1 waterfront committee meeting tonight

Rob Buchanan
Tue Nov 28 15:44:22 EST 2006

for anyone who's interested, here's my (admittedly subjective) summary of
last night's community board #1 waterfront committee hearing:

the first item on the agenda was an update by the economic development
corporation on the land-use permitting process for the east river esplanade
and piers project. in a nutshell, the edc has settled on a general design
scheme and chosen archtects (SHoP and Ken Smith Landscape), but before
construction can begin they've got a lot of legal paperwork to take care
of--from the sounds of it, a good two years' worth.

what the chair and a lot of the committee wanted to discuss--but william
kelly, the edc's project director, clearly didn't--was the question of water
access. the edc's scheme as it currently stands shows two marina-like sites,
one tucked in on the north side of pier 17 at south street seaport and the
other on the south side of pier 35, the sanitation pier. in addition, it
shows a small 'cove' between piers 35 and 36 that might, with the right
design, be a place to get a small boat in and out of the water. kelly
declined to offer any details of how these sites might operate, saying that
was for "a future conversation." in regard to the beach under the brooklyn
bridge, however, he admitted that because of "safety and strong currents" it
"isn't something that we're looking at."

"Does that mean you're not going to allow any access there?" I asked.

"I don't know how else to say it," kelly said, adding that the determination
had been made by the edc's assets management division.

i was disappointed and also perplexed (why would those terrifying currents
be an issue for someone launching from the beach, but not from one of the
edc's marinas?), but the good news was that a lot of other people seemed to
be upset by the announcement, too--and judging from their comments later in
the evening, maybe even energized to do something about it.

Which brings me to agenda item #4, which was a discussion of the issues
surrounding pier 26 in hudson river park. the problem there is that the park
trust, in its zeal to 'perfect' the west side waterfront, tore down a
perfectly functional estuarium and boathouse and now seems not to have the
money to rebuild them. the result for downtown boaters is that there's no
place south of houston street to get in the water. if the trust moves ahead
quickly with the revamping of pier 40, it'll be even worse--you'll have to
go all the way to midtown.

i thought two things emerged from the subsequent discussion. One was a
determination on the part of the committee to see that the trust, assuming
they do eventually find the money to build a new boathouse, avoid another
pier-96-style debacle--ie, name an operator first, then build the boathouse,
tailoring it to the group's specific needs. The other was an awareness of
how much of a community amenity the old boathouse really was, and by
extension, how important access really is.

What I thought the committee realized and began to articulate last night was
that with hudson river park we all signed off on these great improvements
but in the process forgot to insist on some minimum level of interim access,
and now we're paying the price. What i hope they'll DO is not make the same
mistake again with the east river project, but instead put the issue of
access front and center and insist that it be settled before things move

we'll see what happens in January, when the edc team comes back for another
visit. but based on last night, i'm guardedly optimistic. in the meantime,
there are lots of people and politicians to write on this. if you're
interested, let me know and i'll send you names and addresses.

--Rob Buchanan 

On 11/28/06 11:01 AM, "" <>

> I couldn't make it but would've liked to. Anybody make it? I'd love to hear
> what happened. 
> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Rob Buchanan <>
>> Sent: Nov 27, 2006 1:12 PM
>> To: nykayak <>
>> Subject: NYCkayaker C.B. 1 waterfront committee meeting tonight
>> Reminder: there's a cb 1 waterfront committee meeting tonight, and it would
>> be good to have a few kayaking types in the house as the east river project
>> and pier 26 are both on the agenda. 49-51 chambers street, room 709, 6 pm.
>> **********************************************************************
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