Friday, October 13, 2006

Barges Are Not the Only Access

Taking a break from my own personal paddling soap opera today to focus on a new paddling possibility - this is too good to not post -

Remember my friend Staten Island Steve? I don't get to paddle with him very often but when I do, or even just run into him, it's always a pleasure. Here he is at Dyckman Street with a really big sandwich...

And here's Staten Island Steve in his natural habitat...
yes, that green & lovely place is Prall's Island & we're paddling in Prall's Creek, the other side of which is bordered by Staten Island. The Prall's Island Reach section of the Arthur Kill runs on the other side of that island. This was one the pictures I took during a 2005 circumnavigation of Staten Island. This was one of the more surreal moments of the trip - here we'd been paddling along just outside of a major shipping channel, Steve had volunteered to guide us & one of the things he knew was where you had to observe a security zone for a facility on the shore & sneak along right at the edge of the channel, and where you could tuck yourself a little more comfortably close to the shore - that channel is heavily, heavily trafficked & it was fascinating listening to the captains passing the word back about the kayakers on the VHF (fortunately no swearing, they'd mention that we were out of the channel, don't know if they realized we were doing that intentionally but the air wasn't turning as blue as it sometimes does when ship captains talk about kayaks on the radio) - then Steve took us behind Prall's Island to get out of the big guys' way for a bit & suddenly we were in this beautiful, quiet marsh...oh that was nice. Staten Island is a great place for paddling, you just have to be aware that you're sharing the water with behemoths who can't turn - as long as you're aware & just stay out of their way, though, that becomes part of the experience. Ospreys, herons, ships' graveyards, tugboats & tankers, beautiful burgeoning restored marshlands like this one just up a ways from tank farms & giant cranes for loading container ships - like so much urban paddling, the amazement lies in the contrasts.

Anyways. The point of this post, which is supposed to be of the short, lunchtime, largely cut & paste variety, or at least that was the idea until I got all nostalgic-like (I do think I'd like to do that trip again someday only remember to put on the suntan lotion so that I don't end up with blisters worthy of names - mine were Jed and Ed - that put a damper on the last leg in a big bad way) is that Staten Island Steve posted a note to the NYCKayaker list yesterday. He's involved in something that sounds really, really neat. And yes, there's a meeting. It's New York City, there's real estate involved, you bet there's a meeting. Seriously, though - Steve posted, and his topic was:

***Message of Importance to the Entire Paddling Community around NYC ****

And Staten Island Steve doesn't indulge in a lot of "waffle" on that list. So when he says that, I read it. And now I post it, too, because it seriously sounds cool - for paddlers, and for that matter anybody else who lives on or visits Staten Island, even if you've never set foot in a boat & never want to & get seasick looking at a goldfish bowl. So, if this sounds neat to you, too, and you can in any way make it to a daytime City Council meeting, this could be a good thing for all of us. Without further ado, on to the cut & paste:

This is a message of importance to the entire paddling community in and around New York City.
The former U.S. Naval Station on the north shore of Staten Island - The Homeport, will be converted over to public use. A group of people, including myself, are working for a boathouse and floating dock along the mile long cove's shore front. This is an area of Staten Island that is going through a renaissance. New restaurants, parks and recreation areas will be built along side this boathouse. This will make it an excellent future destination for New York paddlers and others. The City of New York has already pledge sixty million dollars to this overall project.

We need the support of the entire paddling community and especially paddlers from Staten Island to make every effort to attend the following event. The show of bodies will give the New York City Council a very good idea of the length and breadth of the New York paddling community. Staten Island paddlers should definitely write and/or call councilman McMahon and let him know how you feel about paddling around New York City and the need for paddling facilities at the Homeport. He and his very friendly staff will be delighted to hear from you, as they were to hear from me.

The Staten Island Homeport will appear before the City Council Zoning Subcommittee
on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 9:30 am. It will be held In the Committee Room at City Hall in Manhattan.

Verbal support from paddlers would be wonderful to justify the funding for this
project and if anyone knows someone in SI, they should contact the councilman:

Michael E. McMahon (D)
130 Stuyvesant Place, 6th Floor
Staten Island, NY 10301
TEL: (718) 556-7370
FAX: (718) 556-7389

Currently plans call for a space for a boathouse to be constructed but it's far
away from the shoreline and I fear may become a boathouse storage facility and
not a vibrant, community gathering space similar to the boathouses we love.

There's no funding as of yet for the facility - just a spot but that's a start.
There will be a floating dock included as part of the project and there will be a
smooth pathway to roll boats to the shoreline.


"Staten Island Steve"

(Bonnie with a P.S. - Steve said in his original post that if anyone wanted to contact him, they should feel free, and gave his email address. I'm not posting that here until I get his permission to do so if you're interested, just leave a comment & fill out the email space (only I see that) and I'll send it on to him.)

(Bonnie with a P.P.S. - Even for those of us who aren't Staten Island based, this could add a really nice destination for a longer day paddle with a lunch break at one of those restaurants)

(Bonnie with a P.P.P.S. - Been thinking about my winter paddling option out at Jamaica Bay. Mitsuwa's waaaay out of reach now but I've been ruminating about the feasibility of a Pierogie Paddle...hmmm...pity I haven't got a Pirogue, then I could do a Pierogie Pirogue Paddle.)

one more Staten Island shot to close:
Photo Hosted at Buzznet

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