A plan to build a North Brooklyn public boathouse has been floating up Newtown Creek without a paddle for nearly a year and a half — and if it doesn’t reach shore by 2015 it might be sunk entirely, water lovers fear.
The proposed Greenpoint boathouse navigated the tumultuous currents of governmental approvals last year, getting the go-ahead after protests from the city about the possible health risks associated with recreation on the polluted canal.
But since state authorities signed off on a four-year commitment to give at least $3 million to build the boathouse to make amends for sullying Greenpoint’s fetid waterway, there has been no progress in acquiring the much-needed waterfront real estate.
Boaters fear if that cash isn’t spent by October 2015, it may run dry.
“I’m very concerned with the delays,” said Christine Holowacz, who co-chairs the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning.
The City Parks Foundation, which is doling out the state cash, has not yet signed a lease for the boathouse space with the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, according to Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning co-chair Dewey Thompson.
The city’s Parks Department is also mired in negotiations with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the site’s would-be landlord to determine who will operate the facility.
“All of the parts are taking longer than anticipated,” said Thompson, who has championed the Newtown Creek boathouse project since its earliest stages.
“We’re already about a year and a half into it and not much has happened,” he said.
Thompson first introduced the proposal to convert the ground floor of a Manhattan Avenue factory into an 80,000-square-foot boat basin with storage for 40 kayaks and a nautical education center in 2010.
Both the City Parks Foundation and the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center refused to comment on the boathouse’s progress or why it is taking so long.
State Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint) said giving the community access to the waterway was the most important aspect of this project — especially in a neighborhood where other park plans have been put on the backburner due to fiscal mismanagement and bureaucracy.
“It’s been so long since we’ve been in a position to reclaim our river that should be for all the people,” said Lentol. “We were not only denied access, but the water was so damn polluted. I want to get this done as soon as possible.”