Thursday, February 01, 2007

CB1 Comments on Tribeca Boathouse Design

Boathouse plan review by Community Board One’s Pier 26 Task Force at the February 21, 2007 meeting

The Task Force reviewed the Trust-approved plans for their proposed boathouse at Pier 26. We addressed the physical design of the boathouse as it relates to use.

The Task Force believes that this boathouse is inadequately designed for its intended purpose. Also, the purpose of this boathouse will be permanently compromised, and the facility will be outgrown, before it ever opens due to major design flaws.

Our review is based on the plans submitted to us from the Trust. It was noted by those present that there is no written record that these plans have ever been brought to Community Board One or other community volunteers before. It was also noted by those present at the Task Force meeting that little, if any, community input is evident in these plans, despite claims to the contrary by HRPT. After searching the records, it appears that the last Community Board One resolution on Pier 26 in general is from 2002.

The boathouse is attached to what appears to be a 10,000- square-foot restaurant, and the plans show that the restaurant uses the roof of the boathouse as its additional designated premises. The plans include the construction of an elevator on the pier for access to this area, as well as other features. Our plan review indicates that the boathouse is approximately 30% smaller than the former boathouse, with a considerable amount of space designated for purposes not central to kayak storage.

It was noted that the plans indicate storage for approximately 14.5-foot kayaks; however, most of the kayaks to use new boathouse are anticipated to be between 16 and 18 feet in length, according to Task Force members. Whatever the exact dimensions are, it appears that there is not enough room in the new boathouse to either store kayaks or maneuver them in and out safely and efficiently.

Following are the specific points the Task Force would like to address, based on the information available in the plans submitted to the Task Force by HRPT staff:

1. The boathouse’s prime purpose is to store human-powered boats and to provide a launching point for them into the Hudson River. It must be designed to fit the boats it was meant to store in the most efficient manner possible.

2. The Task Force believes it should be 30% larger, not smaller, than the previous boathouse.

3. A well-designed boathouse should be designed and constructed as soon as possible, without delay. It was troubling to the task force members that Pier 26 was torn down with no funds to restore what was there. Something serviceable should be built, however modest, to allow the downtown community to again have the water access for human-powered boating that they once enjoyed.

4. The boathouse is a seasonal structure and need not be fully or partially heated.
5. Indoor showers are unnecessary. Showers should be outside of the building, and certainly not in extended bathrooms within the structure, as shown. An outdoor hose is sufficient for this purpose.

6. Indoor toilets are unnecessary and not cost efficient—they can be placed outside the structure itself, ideally on the land, nearer sewer lines. If these toilets are similar to those installed upriver in the two other Trust-built boathouses, it is not acceptable, since they have presented major problems in their functioning.

7. Energy efficiency is very important to the Task Force members -- investigation should be undertaken to make this a more energy efficient structure. Using the roof of the structure for a restaurant will compromise options for solar power.

8. The main door does not line up with the head of the ramp to the dock. A larger door should be located where the outdoor showers and lockers are now indicated.

Additional concerns: Maximum use should be made for opportunities for shade outside the boathouse—this is not evident in current plans. The dressing rooms should be more numerous as well as smaller. The office should be relocated. Concerns were raised regarding the durability and fireproof status of the materials used in construction. Lastly, between 30 and 35 feet of outside promenade is needed for safe kayak access on the pier into the river -- it is not clear from the current plans how much of this space is available on the pier or if the restaurant has taken part of this staging area.

At the January 17, 2007 meeting of the Task Force, comments were solicited about what the community liked about the old pier. They include: The pier was “informal, not slick or commercial,” and “keep the ‘organic’ feeling’ of the place and preserve the community-based origin of the pier design and programming.” Their comments about what they would like to see there include: “The pier should fit into the historic fabric of the neighborhood, compatible with the historic architectural styles of the area,” and “what was there before was good—replace it.” The complete list of points is available from the Community Board office. It was observed by the Task Force that this boathouse and restaurant does not meet these modest standards.

We thank the volunteer members of The Downtown Boathouse for their comprehensive review of the existing plans and their dedication to human-powered boating in Hudson River Park. Their written comments are attached.

Reported by Julie Nadel, March 6, 2007

Reported by Julie Nadel, March 6, 2007

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