Village Community Boathouse advocates the ‘grandfathering’ of community boathouses into the plans for Pier 40, regardless of what developer or preservation scheme is ultimately adopted. For further information, contact Deborah Clearman.
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The sale of air rights from Pier 40 to developers of the St. John’s Center, across West Street from the pier, is now in its ULURP process, the public review of the affect of the land use on the city. This is an ideal time to press for acknowledgement of Pier 40’s value to the public.
The developers of the St. John’s Center are receiving tremendous value in the transfer of air rights and the rezoning to allow for residential use of the site. The public needs to be fairly compensated. Hudson River Park Trust needs to get more than $100 million for these air rights. HRPT needs the wherewithal to maintain Pier 40 as an asset to the community.
Pier 40 provides tremendous value to the community. It’s best-known value lies in the athletic fields, whose proponents come out in force against any proposal which threatens them. Affordable parking is another asset, less touted. Even at parking rates significantly lower than area facilities, Pier 40 currently generates 40% of Hudson River Park’s annual operating budget, with 3500 spaces, only 1800 of which are currently usable. With repairs to its roof and interior structures, it could generate more.
Finally, Pier 40 provides the public with its best access to enjoying and learning about the river. I quote two of the five major goals of the Hudson River Park Trust from its website:
Improve the park’s Estuarine Sanctuary through public education, research and habitat enhancement.
Provide free or low-cost recreational opportunities for New York City residents.
Organizations like the River Project, a marine science field station that provides research and hands-on environmental education, and Village Community boathouse must be guaranteed a long-term place on Pier 40.
With investment in its existing structure, Pier 40 would be able to provide 100% of the park’s operating budget in its current configuration, as it did historically. The St. John’s project should fund renovations to Pier 40’s superstructure as well as its pilings.
The vast scale of the St. John’s project warrants putting guarantees in place to keep Pier 40 serving the public, providing public access to the water.
December 14, 2015: Letter to the Editor, New York Times
A Potential Win-Win for the West Side
To the Editor:
In the discussion of the future of Pier 40, the editorial overlooked one of Hudson River Park’s most public-spirited constituencies– the community boathouses that offer free public paddling and rowing and a literal connection to the waterways that actually make up most of the park. Ours, the Village Community Boathouse, occupies a spot on the south side of Pier 40, where we build and row traditional wooden rowing craft and put thousands of students, residents and international visitors on the water every year. In addition, we run rowing and boatbuilding programs for local high schools and colleges.
Sheltered from wind and currents, the pier’s south-side embayment is uniquely suited for running beginner and youth boating programs. Whatever deal is struck for Pier 40, we urge the park administration, elected officials, and the community to work together to preserve free community boating on what we believe is the best-protected, most usable piece of water in the park.
President, Village Community Boathouse
1410 Beverley Rd
Brooklyn, NY 11226
November 2, 2012: Letter to the Editor, Lincoln Anderson, The Villager
Don’t rock the boat(houses)
To The Editor:
Re “Leagues toss a change-up on Pier 40 buildings idea” (news article, Oct. 18):
In all the handwringing about the future of Pier 40, one of the park’s biggest and most public-spirited constituencies is getting overlooked, and that is the two community boathouses on Pier 40 that offer free public access to the waterways that actually make up most of Hudson River Park. Together, those two boathouses put more than 15,000 people on the water this season.
As anyone who has walked down that short stretch of walkway on the south side of the pier knows, we have created the literal “connection to the water” that the park’s creators, designers and managers have always claimed they want to provide.
We too would like to see the Hudson River Park Trust and our elected officials work together to address the needs of the community for ballfields and green space.
However, we would most like to see them acknowledge (preferably on paper) their commitment to supporting the future of community boathouses and public access to the water at Pier 40.
Sally Curtis, Rob Buchanan, Phil Yee, Dave Clayton, Ruth Lindner, Divid Shehigian, Frank Cervi
The above signers are board of directors members, Village Community Boathouse
June, 2012 Letter to Lincoln Anderson, Editor, The Villager
To The Editor:
The Village Community Boathouse occupies a space on the south side of Pier 40, where we have been in one form or another for more than 15 years. We build and row traditional wooden rowboats, which we use to fulfill our mission of providing free public access to the New York Harbor estuary.
Last year we took more than 1,500 people out on voyages in the harbor, including local high school and college students. The Downtown Boathouse also has a boathouse at Pier 40 where they provided free kayaking to 10,500 people last year alone.
It appears that the Hudson River Park Trust does not fully recognize the true value of Pier 40 to the waterfront community and the public. The Hudson River Park Act calls for using the pier to generate funds to support the rest of the park. The proposals that I am aware of call for placing commercial, revenue-producing enterprises on the pier. However, none of the plans recognizes or exploits the physical features of the pier that make it uniquely suited to human-powered boating.
Sheltered from wakes, currents and the wind, the pier’s south side embayment is ideal for running beginner and/or children’s boating programs. The water is warm and deep, and the embayment has no blind spots. In addition, the promenade on Pier 40 runs the full length of the embayment, making it easy to supervise rowers on the water.
As a result of the shape, bulk, mass and orientation of Pier 40, the pier’s south side has a unique microclimate that is found nowhere else on the Manhattan waterfront. The massive structure of Pier 40 causes it to block the cold northerly winds. Being heavy causes it to absorb a lot of sunlight during the day, which is then radiated back as heat during the early evening. The perceived temperature increase is often more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit, giving the promenade a festive, beach-like atmosphere in the summer months.
As various plans are considered for Pier 40, I hope that the Hudson River Park Trust will recognize the gem that is Pier 40 and that human-powered boating is part of the plan for the south embayment.
Curtis is president, Village Community Boathouse