Kayak flip flop! City will lift ban on boat launches into filthy Newtown Creek

City tightens ban on Newtown Creek kayaking
Photo by Moses Gates

Don’t worry, Brooklyn — you’ll soon be able to kayak in heavily polluted waters.

City officials will reopen two kayak launch spots along the fetid Newtown Creek next spring, bowing to public outcry after the sites were closed in mid-November.

The launches will return by April 1 — barring a finding of dangerous levels of toxins in a forthcoming study of the polluted waterway, said Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Matt Mahoney.

The city environmental agency had closed the sites — at Newtown Creek Nature Walk on Provost Street and the end of Manhattan Avenue — two months after the federal government designated the polluted waterway as a Superfund site.

At the time, activists had criticized the department for not consulting the community about the kayak launch ban.

“The [city] has failed to provide anything near the amount of information to support a closure of the kayak launches,” said Riverkeeper’s Phillip Musegaas. “The closure for kayaking and boating appears arbitrary and without factual support.”

Assemblyman Joe Lentol and Councilman Steve Levin also demanded that the city reopen the launches, telling Environmental Commissioner Cas Holloway that the ban “sabotage[s] one of the city’s most actively pursued planning goals: the development of the waterfront and the promotion of commerce and recreation along waterfront properties.”

As such, Lentol was pleased when told just before the meeting started that his letter may have had a role in changing city policy.

“I think you took away my speech,” the 40-year Assembly vet said.