Thursday, February 01, 2007

Comments on Trust's Tribeca Boathouse Design

Note from Bonnie - I am actually posting this on 2/22, not. It's a little long, and I expect that it will be of genuine interest only to NYC paddlers who may be directly influenced - so I'm permalinking to this & backdating. The notes are a straight copy & paste from a Word document which Jim Wetherhoff, the president & founder of the Downtown Boathouse (the organization behind the original boathouse at Pier 26, which was a true grassroots effort) sent me when I asked on the Hudson River Watertrail Association's NYCKayaker list if anyone who'd attended could provide a synopsis of what happened (life interfered & I was unable to go myself, but have been following this story with too much interest to not ask for a postable update). I'm posting them here with Jim's permission. I'm sorry I don't have access to the plans, but I think most of their points are clear even without the plans.

Thanks again, Jim & R., for sending these.

Jim's cover email:

Hi Bonnie,

I've attached the Boathous's comments on the plan, which were the basis for a lot of the discussion at the meeting. The chair Julie Nadel and Gwen, will be putting together their notes, and sending them around to the people at the meeting, for comment, and then, Julie will compose a resolution, or letter from the community board to the Trust. I'll send you the notes when I get them.



241 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

Comments on the Hudson River Park Trust’s Final Design
for the Boathouse on Pier 26

Meeting of Community Board 1 Pier 26 Committee
February 21, 2007

In the Hudson River Park Act, Pier 26 is designated as a “Park use, non-revenue generating” pier for public recreational access. The Final Design (“the Design”) for the CafĂ© & Boathouse facility at Pier 26 delivered to Community Board 1 consists of a boathouse with a plan area of approximately 5,000 square feet and a restaurant of 10,000 square feet, including its (exclusive) outside tables, and the overlook, which, with its elevators, and elaborate construction, is the most expensive item in both the proposed construction and the long-term maintenance. This is clearly a revenue-generating, “destination restaurant” in direct contravention of the legislation, and the expressed request of the community for ancillary food service, only, at this location. The restaurant should be replaced with a variety of food carts and a picnic area or eliminated in light of the snack bar proposed for Pier 25.

In addition to the disproportion of space allocated to the boathouse as against the restaurant, the footprint of the boathouse itself is 30% smaller than the original Boathouse. Given the growing popularity of this form of recreation, the footprint of the new boathouse should increase, rather than decrease, by 30%.

The boathouse is intended to house boats and equipment to afford to the public access to the 80% of this park that is water, as well as the public trust that is New York Harbor. This human-powered boating brings its participants into a closer contact with our environment, and a building intended to support this activity should not insult that environment.

Materials used to construct this building should be durable and suit its purpose, and withstand the conditions the building will endure over its proposed, minimum fifty-year, lifespan. Systems within the building should also reflect an awareness of this lifespan and growing purpose. The boathouse should be built to serve its purpose: supporting responsible public access to our public waterways. The construction as drawn seems needlessly complex for a seasonal storage building, while the exterior materials proposed are susceptible to corrosion in this semi-marine environment; moreover, the interior is likely to make the structure a total loss in the event of almost any fire.

The roof should be configured to allow for solar collectors because, as a public entity, the Trust should display leadership in responsible energy use. The roof should extend as far as practical to the North to provide some shade for the participants in the public boating program.

The dimensions set forth in this design of the boathouse are inadequate for the storage and movement of kayaks averaging 16’, the most common length used in the River. The designers have drawn a boathouse full of 14’ boats, in an area which only marginally works for even 14’, or shorter boats. The former Boathouse was 52’ wide and allowed the double-row storage of full-size boats, while the new boathouse, as drawn, is 43’ wide and will not.

There is no indication of the width of the promenade on the north and west sides of the boathouse, but this space will be critical to the operation of our free public programs. It is difficult to judge the adequacy of the promenades for foot traffic without their dimensions and those of the pier itself.

The main door does not line up with the head of the ramp to the dock. Since it will be impossible for any door in the west side to line up with the ramp, a larger door should be located where the outdoor showers and lockers are now indicated.

The lockers and a hose should be moved to where the office is now located, eliminating the outside showers. The office should be moved to where the toilets and showers are now proposed, and these should be eliminated. The public restrooms which were formerly adjacent to the estuarium should be replaced. Eliminating the complex plumbing associated with the toilets and showers will allow draining the building in winter instead of heating it. Heating the boathouse over the winter is an unnecessary operational expense.

We believe in light of the above that the design requirements should be revisited and the proposed construction redrawn to more properly meet them.

Other aspects of the Design work counter to the efficient operation of a volunteer-run public facility that will provide public access to hand-powered boating. The Design should be improved in the following ways:
• the boathouse should be a fireproof structure;
• it should function simply as a ‘warehouse for boats,’ and in that regard, should be configured to enhance the perception of the public versus the private area, such that public activity is focused in one area and the facility can be operated with a minimum of volunteers;
• showers should not be enclosed, and should consist of simple spray nozzles;
• toilet facilities should be relocated outside of the boathouse and over or near sewerage lines;
• shaded areas should to the extent possible be incorporated into the Design;
• and the office booth where the public will be received should be eliminated.

The Downtown Boathouse urges reconsideration and a redrawing of the Design that will result in the construction of a less costly, permanent, more efficient and more welcoming facility.

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