Saturday, April 07, 2007

Things get weird.

(For anyone coming in from Curbed - sorry, this will seem a little incoherent. It's all about a boathouse at Pier 66 - a pier that at one time I might have hoped to paddle out of, and a team of organizations that submitted one of the proposals to run that boathouse. Crazy Fingers has links for as many of the groups involved as he could find links. The first three are the paddling groups that have called the barge home for a long, long time. Good groups, dedicated paddlers, Manhattan Kayak is where I learned to kayak, learned to teach, was a partner for 3 years - ended up not staying with the company but my involvement there was one of the most intense learning experiences of my entire life. The last 2 are more recent players. I know nothing about this Waterfront Realty - nobody seems to, their participation was actually on the agenda of the members-only meeting I refer to below - but the Hudson River Paddlers Guild...well, I don't necessarily think they are bad guys (in fact some of them are people I rather like paddling with), but I've found their approach to things to be incredibly frustrating. Plus, as I've told their leaders repeatedly, they'd come across a lot better if they weren't so weird about sharing information.

Would actually be simpler if there were some easily-identified bad guys in this. Life never works that way, does it?

So I've gone from ecstatic over rumor #1 that I'd put up then taken down at the request of a couple of friends who've been involved, to feeling a little queasy about it.

The leadup to how that cat ended up getting out of the bag was weird. A couple of months back, I'd questioned a decision by the leaders of the Hudson River Paddlers Guild to have a closed, members-only meeting at a private residence to discuss matters of interest to independent paddlers, especially those storing kayaks on the barge. This meeting wasn't publicized to anyone but members and "friends of the Guild", they didn't even want to tell the Rustbucket trip planning group.

To get on the "friends of the Guild" list, you'd had to follow the instructions in their introductory email, which went out to an oddly limited group in the first place (they never posted it to our local NYCKayaker list, more a pre-selected group). I'd found out about that meeting because I'd asked to be added to the list. After questioning the meeting setup, I never got any news from them again. I don't know if the questioning led directly to my deletion from the "FOG" list, but I'd seen another situation where someone questioned & then was not on the lists anymore. Tough not to see a pattern there.

By Thursday, I was overwhelmed with curiousity - had heard some vague rumours about the barge moving, and knew the Trust had planned to make a decision on the boathouse by the beginning of April. So I asked on the Rustbucket list, which is a little more private than the NYCKayaker list, and somebody posted the answer to the boathouse question (please note that the barge move & the boathouse-operator questions were really two very separate questions). And somebody who didn't realize I wasn't someone who the Guild was giving information to anymore sent an answer, meaning to send it to me, and sending it to the whole group instead. Happens with Yahoo groups, they are set up to send replies to the whole group by default.

Anyways, did a little more asking around with a couple of people - turns out nothing's signed yet, there are questions on both ends, and holding the announcement until everything was done would have been more appropriate...but I'd already posted it here, and told BlogChelsea and it's out on the Rustbucket list, and also among the NYO (only on the NYO list they're just happy and excited - gee, like I was a couple of days ago, I miss that)and there's another blogger, Larry on the Yahoo list. Sigh. Clearly Bill Bergeron hasn't learned that thing about don't send out any emails that you wouldn't be fine reading as the top story in tomorrow's edition of the New York Times.

Well, I hope & pray that nothing bad comes of my asking a question. I can't imagine how but remember how the other day, I was saying that if I asked the Trust, and they'd given it to Randy (sole prop., New York Kayak Company) , I'd blame myself. I'd heard that he'd been pretty prickly to his set of Pier 63 refugees, even though they are paying him...still, now he's the one in the terrible situation of not knowing whether the shop he's put so much of his life into will have a home after the Pier 40 proposal decision is made. That would put anyone in a resentful mood...

ugh. Just more fun with musical-chair boathouses in the Hudson River Park. Dang. Hind sight 20/20 and all but it would've been so nice if at some point, there'd been a survey of boaters operating in the park through the efforts of grassroots organizations & enterpreneurial efforts, with an eye to encouragement & expansion of water-dependent recreation, including but not limited to providing interim storage...ah, there, what a bad case of community-gardenitis I get when talking about my own hobby.

Community-gardenitis is my term for a certain specific variety of squatter's rights. Community gardens are really a wonderful feature of New York City - you can be walking down an ordinary residential block on a hot summer day, and suddenly there's this little green oasis tucked into a vacant lot between two buildings, breathing cool earth-leaf-and-flower-scented air on you. Some of these are fully established - like the one that started it all, the Liz Christy Garden, which is just lovely. I think I've heard about less formal ones, though, that end up leading to heartbreaking situations all around when a developer ends up deciding to build on a lot that houses a garden...that's tough, in an ideal world we'd all have room for gardens, and everyone who had a vacant lot would offer it to gardeners to use until they needed it - a garden is so much nicer than an ugly vacant lot. Only problem is that after gardeners have put a few years into making that vacant lot bloom, they're naturally going to start feeling a sense of, if not ownership, then at least of vested interest...then if the owner comes back & wants to build, who's the bad guy?

That business of having this powerful sense of ownership without actually owning...that's what I think of as community-garden-itis. Applies way beyond gardens, though.

So when I start saying things that sound like I'm saying that the Trust should make sure that they preserve whatever boating establishments have sprung up as interim tenants, subtenants, whatever...I do try to keep in mind that when Manhattan Kayak moved to the barge where New York Outrigger had already been based for a couple of years, we knew we were gambling, we'd known it was temporary from the git-go. Randy must have known he was making the same gamble when he moved to Pier 40. A lot of neat stuff happens in NYC because there are people who are brave enough to take a chance on a temporary set-up. Some work out. Some don't. That's the city for you.

For all that, though, I do wish that the boaters were being watched out for a lot better. The Hudson is an incredible river, and it's unfortunate that some of the people who love it the most end up being put into situations where they end up going head to head when storage goes away, even temporarily.

The whole thing makes me awfully awfully glad to have landed on the so-much-less-fraught banks of the Paerdegat.

Speaking of which, I think I hear the Romany calling!

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