Today’s news:

Source: State won’t fund kayak center on Newtown Creek

The Brooklyn Paper

Ambitious plans for a boathouse along the Newtown Creek ran aground this week when state officials indicated they would not fund the project because the city objects to kayaking in the fetid waterway, according to a source familiar with the project.

City environmental and health officials have been skittish about recreation on the polluted waterway for months, citing concerns that boaters could crash into larger ships in city rivers and ingest water contamined from sewage overflows.

The city has shown few signs of reversing its position this summer, arguing that health and transportation risks along the 3.8-mile waterway should be studied before anyone can set sail.

“[The proposal] does not sufficiently address the substantial public health concerns raised here,” Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway wrote on July 13 to state and city leaders, citing not just water quality, but the hazard of having recreational boaters in a still-busy industrial waterway. “[The proposal] provides an insufficient basis to make a multi-million-dollar investment.”

A state environmental spokesman denied that the city position was dictating state policy, saying only that the agency is assessing water quality data and that no decision about the boathouse has been made.

The $3-million project had been named a top finalist to receive a state grant from a pool of money collected from a $10-million a city pollution settlement in 2008.

The boathouse includes space for 60 kayaks in the first floor of a five-story industrial rental building at the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Box Street.

Neighborhood boaters argue that the project’s location is away from the pollution and offers kayakers the “perfect place to launch and explore the river.”

“People have been kayaking on the creek for decades — through periods when the creek was ostensibly more polluted and far busier with ship traffic without incident,” said Community Board 1 member Dewey Thompson, who drafted the proposal.

But the city has sought to limit recreation on Newtown Creek after the federal government declared the waterway a superfund site last September.

City workers put up “no kayaking” signs at two boat launches in October, temporarily suspending kayaking on the waterway in the winter.

In May, a city health official questioned the creek’s water quality and its effect on the health of kayakers — causing community leaders to question the city’s commitment to public recreation.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint) accused the city of trying to “block a viable community program,” and Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) said the state should approve the project.

“The boathouse was the community’s top choice,” said Levin. “It should be funded.”

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ali from greenpoint says:
Rich white people wanted their boathouse, let them do some work and clean up the community first.
July 21, 2011, 8:37 am
k from greenpoint says:
A boathouse was a bad choice for the neighborhood. There aren't many rich white people in Greenpoint. A park or playground on the water would have been nice.
July 21, 2011, 10:40 am
boater from greenpoint says:
While this isn't dead yet, I'm appalled at the idea that the State might roll over on this issue. A transparent and open process was held to determine the projects that would be funded and NYCDEP was nowhere to be found at the public meetings with these concerns where, due to the lack of any real science behind their claims, they would have been laughed at... Instead, DEP is now trying to derail the project by shady political games. Shame on them! And shame on the DEC for even listening to them - this project is to be funded from a penalty fund that DEP had to set up for harming this community - now somehow DEP gets the opportunity to harm it even more by possibly killing the best project on the list?
Unbelievable.
July 21, 2011, 10:56 am
concerned from greenpoint says:
DEC, DEP: bureaucrats with nothing to do except spend our taxpayer dollars delaying and denying us just compensation for decades of mismanagement and pollution. There should be extreme outrage in the community over this. OK, so perhaps a boathouse is a bit elitist. Ali and K above could have made their own suggestions in this very community involved process.
July 21, 2011, 12:10 pm
Victoria from LIC says:
Clean up always has to start somewhere. There is nothing simple about the condition of the Newtown Creek, except to say that this waterway deserves every effort at remediation. Stopping the dumping and active polluting is occurring. The boat house project development is designed to coincide with accelerated efforts to bring the Newtown Creek back to life. Nothing will happen overnight, there is a time line here. There will always be political wrangling, what if we ignore the noise, put focus instead on what does and can work, and continue to build on that. Industrial Past to Recreational Future for NYC waterways is underway--the transition is NOW, let's be a part of it. Peace and patience, and ACTION in good time.
July 21, 2011, 12:28 pm
Jill from LIC says:
Why would you consider a boathouse "elitist?" As far as I know, this isn't a marina where rich people can dock their boats. This is an all volunteer run community boathouse that welcomes ALL races and genders of all economic status to get out and enjoy the water with free provided kayaks and safety gear. Since when did physical exercise and free access to enjoying the waterways of NYC become something you think only the white people can enjoy?
July 21, 2011, 12:51 pm
JonB from Carroll Garden says:
Cas cares so deeply about the boaters' health and safety, yet his agency is the City's single worst violator of the National Clean Water Act.
July 21, 2011, 1:29 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
I pray that DEC's new commissioner doesn't begin his relationship with or community by letting DEP hoodwink him into a poorly made decision which will make him a pariah in brooklyn and queens. The area of the creek that will be used by the community meets secondary contact recreation standards. Don't let DEP tell you otherwise...
July 21, 2011, 1:55 pm
Pete from Greenpoint says:
Why is this news? City owns the state. Just screw greenpoint one more time, why not?
July 21, 2011, 2:18 pm
D from Greenpoint says:
Aaron -
Can you post the entire july 13th letter from Cas? I'd love to see what data he is using to support his contention that boating on the creek will harm human health. If such data exists, it would contradict the data they have been giving the community to try to reduce the amount of CSO construction projects they need to do.
Two sets of books? In banking, that would be illegal...
July 21, 2011, 3:20 pm
Andy Sheasby from Long Island City says:
It's a part of a long term plan for clean up and renewal to have a community boathouse where ordinary people can have access to the water. It's the opposite of elitist. Elitist is the status quo, where most of the boats you see go by on NYC's waterways are powerboats with Wall Street guys at the helm, cigars between their teeth, bikini clad babe on the bow, or foreign owned cruising yachts transiting our waterways on the way back to Europe from the Caribbean. Newtown Creek is a very smart and safe place to launch kayaks and it'll be a really sad loss to the immediate Greenpoint Community if it gets shelved. Rich white people will continue to enjoy their megayachts regardless..
July 21, 2011, 3:39 pm
Laura Hofmann from Greenpoint says:
City, State, & Federal Agencies have been very selective about the human health issues to be concerned about. Family members and pets have died from all sorts of brain disease. Family members are burdened with autoimmune diseases. Has there been a health study? No. Has the NYC or NYS Dept.of Health been helpful or concerned? No. However, now that there's a liability issue on the Newtown Creek, their concerned? ——! The water that flows through the creek, is flowing into the East River and then the Hudson. So if boating is disallowed on the Newtown Creek, it should be disallowed throughout NYC. Simple as that. And this community will fight, fight, fight, until its able to enjoy public waters.
July 21, 2011, 6:49 pm
Lica Wouters from Williamsburg says:
The city assumes that the community boathouse would be irresponsible and send its members out into polluted rivers to crash into boats and swallow contaminated water, but the truth of the matter is that the community boathouse is the strongest advocate for safe recreation and a clean waterway. It's in their own interest.

While other people will go about their business, the boathouse will be the one to alert the community of the cities flubs in cleaning up the area. They will be the ones that will draw attention to the issues and rally the community if/when efforts are waning.

And in my opinion, the city knows this and therefore is backtracking on its agreement. And who knows what kind of job the city will do when no one is watching?
July 22, 2011, 11:01 am
B from Lic says:
Then why did dep build a launch itself at the nature walk?
So worried then, not...
July 24, 2011, 8:06 am
WHATAMESSTICLE from NONEYA says:
What kind of moron would actually want to float around in turd water? OR expose themselves to chemical contamination, and CANCER???????

WHO DOES THIS??

RETARDS. THE WORLD IS NOW FULL OF RETARDS!!!!
July 27, 2011, 10:07 pm
WHATAMESSTICLE from HELL says:
LOOKIT YOU MORONS. CLEAN THOS TURDS UP FIRST. IF AND WHEN IT IS CLEAN, THEN WORRY ABOUT YOUR STUPID BOATHOUSE. TOO BAD YOU PEOPLE CARE MORE ABOUT THAT THEN THE RAMPANT POVERTY IN THIS BOROUGH.

YOUR WHINEY —— IS TYPICAL OF WHITE FECES-OBSESSED FREAKS WITH TOO MUCH MONEY AND NOT ENOUGH COMPASSION. AS USUAL YOUR THINKING IS RETARDED.

THERE IS NO MONEY IN THIS CITY. VITAL PROGRAMS ARE BEING CUT. THE POOR PEOPLE OF THIS CITY ARE GETTING ——ED OVER IN DROVES. BUT YOU MENTALLY RETARDED TURDFLOATING ADVOCATES WANT THE CITY TO BUILD A BOATHOUSE AND SO YOU TRUST FUND ——HEELS CAN FROLIC IN RAW SEWAGE!

JEEZUS CHRIST...AM I IN HELL????? HAVE I GONE STRAIGHT TO HELL??????????????????????????????????
July 27, 2011, 10:22 pm

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