Just a quick post here since I sort of left things dangling with this thing.
I did get a little more information this week.
On the good side - apparently people on Roosevelt Island have actually been trying to figure out if they could get some kind of water access for ages, and in the process of that they have spoken to exactly the sort of expert I've been saying they should be speaking to - somebody who's not looking to run anything there and has experience that gives them a broader perspective than just a kayaker's. The opinion given was that there are a few places on the island where small, carefully controlled programs could be run safely.
That was really what I wanted to hear was happening - as I think I said, my impression based on my own recollections of the area was that it wouldn't be good, but if I had a chance to go see it, I might easily rethink.
As far as small, carefully controlled programs go, the kayak group that the Roosevelt Islander blog mentioned as having attended a recent meeting (in the comments in theoriginal R.I.'er post I'd referred to) are already running stuff like that in the same area and know as well as anyone how to deal with the currents and stay out of the way of the barges.
So on that front, I was definitely being a Chicken Little.
However, there's still something off-kilter here - ends up being off in competitive-rowing territory and that's outside of what I actually know, but here's what I've read of the story so far. It is an interesting set-up.
The boathouse RFP that was just put up was in response to a proposal that the Roosevelt Island Operating Company ("RIOC", which basically decides what happens on Roosevelt Island) received from an organization called New York Rowing.
New York Rowing used to be based at the Peter Jay Sharp boathouse (which I admit I still think of as the Bette Midler Boathouse as she had a ton to do with the place existing at all - she saw a community need and helped make it happen) on the Harlem River. Programs there have now been taken over by a group called Row New York. You can read more about the story of the changeover on the latest WaterWire. That article mentions that New York Rowing wasn't very involved in the community. The parting of the ways involved a lawsuit.
Having lost that venue, NY Rowing asked the RIOC for a new home on Roosevelt Island. The RFP was done on an expedited basis, (which is why I was so utterly floored by the whole thing; usually any new boathouses in the area take eons of planning and community board meetings and other such argh-itude, and this one popped up complete as Athena springing from Zeus's head, without so much as a single rumor beforehand - I'm not as hooked in to the kayak grapevine as I was when I was in Manhattan, where a certain amount of political action is just part of the cost of keeping a boat on the waterfront, but still, a new boathouse is huge!) but right on the heels of the announcement came questions about conflicts of interest among a couple of the parties involved.
At this point, this is all way over my head, but I'll definitely be staying tuned and if I hear anything, I'll pass it along.
That's all for now - gotta get some shuteye, long week and I need to rest up, tomorrow is the Sebago Season Opener and Andy and I are starting it off with another session with the NYU Poly Concrete Canoe Team. Go Team!
Hope everybody has a good weekend!