The summer that was – A look back at community events

By Maria Rocha Buschel

Summer is quickly drawing to a close, with an autumn chill in the early morning air and school starting up again soon. And with the last unofficial day of the season, Labor Day, occurring yesterday, we thought we would share a look back at some of the summer activities that took place in the community.

This summer saw the return of the popular concert series on the Solar One stage at Stuyvesant Cove Park, with the only complaint some Town & Village readers had being that the series was too short. Performers also got in the summer spirit at Madison Square Park underneath the Fata Morgana canopy installation in an Afro-Cuban dance workshop and performance in July. In what is becoming an annual tradition, area residents were also able to enjoy the waterfront through the free kayaking events, hosted in Stuyvesant Cove Park for the final time for the season last weekend.

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Kayaking at the Cove on July 12

Kayakers with STPCV and Waterside Plaza in 2013 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Kayakers at a Stuy Cove kayaking event in 2013 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A Stuyvesant Cove walkup paddling event will be held on Sunday, July 12 from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Participants must be 18 or older or accompanied by a parent or guardian and know how to swim. For more information on this free event, visit Stuy Cove Kayaking’s website or Solar 1’s website.

The event is co-sponsored by Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Council Member Dan Garodnick.

Community meets on future of Stuy Cove

A kayaker enjoys Stuy Cove Park (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A kayaker enjoys Stuy Cove Park (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

 

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Local residents, kayakers, environmental education advocates and elected officials gathered at Baruch College last Thursday to discuss plans for on-water access at Stuyvesant Cove Park. The meeting was hosted by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, which worked with other organizations to provide free kayaking in the park for the last two summers.
MWA President and CEO Roland Lewis led the discussion and both Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and City Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who are sponsors of the East River Blueway plan, were on hand at the meeting to show their support for increased access to the water. Garodnick’s office has allocated $1 million in funding for a kayak and canoe launch at Stuy Cove, and the plans for these funds, among other proposals about water access in Stuy Cove, were the topic the meeting.
Lewis noted that the MWA believes open waters should be used for three basic purposes: education, recreational boating and historic ships. The purpose of the meeting on Thursday was to explore possibilities for expanding all of these options, but while Solar 1 has been able to conduct at least some educational programming and kayaking has been planned despite needing a ladder to get to the water, the historic shipping community has been left in dire straits.
“I’m standing here without a place for my 160-foot boat for the season, which starts in three weeks,” said Tom Berton of Manhattan by Sail. “One of the problems is access. These boats need to be able to side load and there are very few docks that can do that.”
There is an eco dock in Bay Ridge that can accommodate historic ships which is maintained by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and Berton said that the historic shipping community is very supportive of the alliance’s initiative to create more on water access at Stuyvesant Cove because it could create more space for these ships that have nowhere to dock.
A teacher from the New York Harbor School was at the meeting to advocate for educational programming and an eco dock would facilitate that. “Freshmen from the school come out to Stuyvesant Cove Park for a full day and do water quality testing and an eco dock affords some of that,” she said.
An eco dock is a kind of floating dock connected to a pier and moves with the tide. Such a dock would be ideal for Berton’s purposes and would also be able to accommodate smaller boats, although Graeme Birchall, president of Downtown Boathouse, advocated for a different tack.
“I don’t like any of the eco docks that I’ve seen,” he said. “What we need is viable access for a large number of beginner users. The only place I’ve seen that successfully is at Brooklyn Bridge Park and in Hoboken, with a sandy beach.”
One attendee at the meeting asked about places along the water to relax but Lewis noted that plans thus far are primarily for transient boat use. Another question was raised about the possibility of swimming in the river. Lewis said that there have been plans proposed that would allow such a thing, such as a project on Kickstarter that created a pool with a filtration system, but he said that it’s unlikely the Blueway plans would include something like that.
Lewis said that the $1 million in capital funding will get the project started but he noted that the community will still have to figure out where the funds will come from to maintain and operate it. Lewis added that the next step is to give the feedback from this meeting to the city’s Economic Development Corporation, as well as talk with the involved elected officials to figure out the best route with the community board on opening a dock.

 

Last paddle of the season at Stuy Cove

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By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents got a taste of nature last Saturday when Stuyvesant Cove Park hosted an afternoon of free kayaking. The Long Island City Community Boathouse provided all of the equipment, including the boats, lifejackets and paddles, and the event was a community project from the LIC Boathouse, Urban Swim and the New York City Water Trail Association, with help from Lower East Side Ecology Center, SWIM Coalition and the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club and support from Solar One.

This was the third time ever that kayaking was offered in Stuyvesant Cove Park and it was the second and last time for this season. Many of the volunteers and participants said that they’re hoping the opportunity will be more regularly available and LIC Boathouse chair John McGarvey said that he’s hoping the recent $1 million grant that came in conjunction with the East River Blueway plan will help make a boathouse at Stuyvesant Cove Park a reality. With the current set-up, kayaking at Stuyvesant Cove Park is available so infrequently because there is nowhere to store the boats, especially since the naturally formed beach at the park disappears at high tide, and the only way to get to the river is by climbing up and over the fence with a rigged ladder and a cooler as a stepping stool.

“The grant will help with infrastructure and ideally will help consult with the boathouse, and won’t let some architect make something that’s just pretty and useless,” McGarvey said. “It’s a boon to the community the value it gives to the real estate, environmental activism and health. We’ll keep supporting it. The trick is to just be politically active to get things done.”

By the end of the event last Saturday, the Lower East Side Ecology Center said that almost 150 people came to go paddling, which they considered a success, and LIC Boathouse volunteer Ted Gruber said that he was happy to see the Cove’s beach empty most of the afternoon, with all of the boats on the river.

Gruber, one of the many LIC Boathouse volunteers at the event, is a strong proponent for kayaking in the East River because it’s a resource the community could use and it’s not being taken advantage of.

“There’s no river access on the East Side,” he said. “There are at least seven access points on the west side, and none on the east.”

He added that aside from these sporadic events near Stuyvesant Town providing fun summer activities, he said that residents need to attend the events to show that there is interest in making it a more permanent fixture.

“It’s important that we educate people in Stuy Town so people know that they can have this here,” he said. “The people who want to see this here need to come out and let people know that there is a demand and that we’d like this here.”

Barbara Alpert, a Stuyvesant Town resident who grew up in the area and also volunteers with the LIC Boathouse, said that she really wants to encourage people to come out and participate.

“I like kayaking but I especially like it out in the neighborhood,” she said.

Graeme Birchall, president of Downtown Boathouse, which offers free kayaking on the Hudson River, was at the event to support the effort for East Side river access.

“This is the cleanest air in Manhattan,” he said. “It might not be the cleanest water but it’s the cleanest air. Wouldn’t it be nice if these residents of the East Side had similar possibilities as those on the west? It’s amazing to do right in the city and people don’t even realize they can do it here.”

Beatrice Hoffman and her sister Celeste Clarke had never been to Stuyvesant Cove Park but Hoffman has kayaked with the LIC Boathouse before and she’s a volunteer with them and the Brooklyn Bridge Park. The two, who are also senior citizens, were out on Saturday because Clarke had never been kayaking before.

“So many people don’t get the opportunity to do water sports and they don’t realize how easy it is to do in the city, especially because it can be so expensive,” Hoffman said.

“But it’s important to do things like kayaking because it also encourages people to learn how to swim.”

Free kayaking, Family Day at Stuyvesant Cove

Participants enjoy a kayaking event at Stuyvesant Cove Park held in June. Photo by Marisa Buxbaum/Solar One

Participants enjoy a kayaking event at Stuyvesant Cove Park held in June. Photo by Marisa Buxbaum/Solar One

Community residents are invited to a free kayaking event at Stuyvesant Cove Park on Saturday, August 17 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Participants must know how to swim, be at least 18 years old or attend with a parent or guardian, and must sign insurance waivers. All equipment is provided free. Participation will be on a first-come, first-paddling basis. Provided by Long Island City Community Boathouse. The event is a joint project of LICCB, the New York City Water Trail Association, and Urban Swim, in conjunction with the Lower East Side Ecology Center and the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club with the support of Solar 1 and NYCEDC.
In addition, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Solar One’s long-running series of monthly “Family Day” events for children and their parents kicks off with an Interactive Plant Fair for Wildflower Week. For Family Day: Creatures, kids can make flower costume, collages and paintings, make seed bombs and plant wildflowers they can take home, get their faces painted and much more. RSVP to dina@solar1.org.

Other upcoming events in the neighborhood:

Waterside Plaza Dance Festival on August 17

The Waterside Plaza Dance Festival will take place on August 17 starting 5 p.m., featuring talented local dance companies and choreographers performing outside on the Plaza. This year performance groups are creating original site-specific work that showcases the unique landscape of Waterside Plaza’s outdoor space. Rain date is August 18. For more information, call (212) 340-4208 or email yketzis@watersideplaza.com.

Movies at Waterside continue through August 26

Waterside Plaza presents RCN Monday Night Movies on August 19 and 26. Films will start at dusk (usually around 8:15 p.m.) outside on the Plaza. Co-sponsored by RCN, admission is free and open to the public. For more information, call (212) 340-4208 or email: yketzis@watersideplaza.com.

Stuyvesant Strolls on Wed., Aug. 21

On Wednesday, August 21 from 6-7 p.m., Solar One will host Stuyvesant Strolls, a guided,  sunset tour through Stuyvesant Cove Park. This is a great opportunity to discover the wide variety of plants and wildlife native to New York City.

Kids Summerfest in Stuyvesant Town on August 25

The next scheduled event for young residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village and their guests is Kids Summerfest II, which will feature The Airborne Comedians, mini golf, and more on Sunday, August 25 at 3 p.m. on the Oval.

See listings for more local events, including theater, concerts, comedy, kids’ events and more on the Town & Village Blog Around & About page.