Water lovers panned the city’s plans to build an extension to the 69th Street Pier that will bring visitors closer to the water last week, claiming that New York Bay’s current may be too strong for novice boaters and kayakers who will want to cast off from the new dock — and may destroy the floating platform within a year.
“It’s an expensive piece of equipment to just leave floating out there 12 months of the year,” charter boat Captain Jim Chambers said as he and several other seafarers filled the Bay Ridge Library on April 26 to chime in on the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s plans to connect a $750,000 Community Eco Dock to the 69th Street Pier.
Tony Pignatello, commodore of the Sebago Canoe Club in Canarsie, also questioned putting the new dock in New York Bay.
“The current in the river is a lot faster than what you’d find in Jamaica Bay,” he said. “You just can’t have anyone going out there.”
Yet Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance members say that the 69th Street Pier will be the perfect spot for the dock, which is slated to be built this summer.
“This will be New York City’s key to unlocking the waterfront,” Alliance President Roland Lewis said. “People have not been able to get from Bay Ridge to the bay or from the bay to the Bay Ridge.”
Lewis said the Community Eco Dock will be a two-tiered floating platform that the city’s Parks Department will hitch to the end of the 69th Street Pier to host both recreational and educational programs.
Yet some wondered if the dock — which will have a 60-foot gangway linking it to the pier and a ramp connecting its two levels — would accommodate residents with disabilities.
“A lot of boats are equipped with what we call ‘suicide ramps,’ meaning it would be suicide for us to use them,” said disabilities rights activist Jean Ryan, who told Lewis that the Parks Department should make sure that the inclines on the Eco Dock weren’t two steep or too narrow.
Lewis said that once the dock was in place, the city’s fleet of retired-ships and floating museums could tie up to the upper level of the platform and offer tours and bring Bay Ridgites to Manhattan. Residents could also put their own row boats and kayaks in the water from the lower deck.
Lewis said that the South Street Seaport Museum and the New York Aquarium, among other groups, are already planning to hold educational programs on the new platform, news that had some community leaders praising the proposal funded by the state, Borough President Markowitz, and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge).
“This is a great opportunity to have someplace where the kids can come down to the water and touch the water and learn from it,” community activist Chip Cafiero said.