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Posts Tagged ‘new york city’

vermont sail freight

In a bit of a departure from the usual fare here on A Movable Bridge, I’d like to draw your attention to the Vermont Sail Freight Project.

Erik Andrus of Ferrisburgh, Vermont, has developed this demonstration project to show how sailing vessels can be used to deliver non-perishable Vermont-produced foods to markets in the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City. He and a bunch of volunteers are currently at work building the boat, whose design is based on that of Thames River sailing barges.

As of this morning they had received $14,338 in pledges toward the $15,000 goal on Kickstarter. There are nine days left in which to pledge. Click here to learn about the project on Kickstarter and to make a pledge.

For full information about the project, visit the Vermont Sail Freight Project website.

 

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Four Sparrow Marsh is in Brooklyn, squeezed between Toys “R” Us and the Belt Parkway. I’ve boated and driven past it innumerable times and never thought it was anything more than a patch of undeveloped land probably full of old cars and trash.

But it turns out that it’s home to more than sixteen bird species, including four species of sparrow—salt-marsh, song, swamp, and savannah. Hence the name.

It also turns out that it may not be undeveloped for long. Yesterday Karen sent me a link to New York City Audubon. There are plans to build the Four Sparrows Retail Center on the marsh. NYC Audubon is not categorically opposed to the development: “An appropriately designed retail project, with adequate buffers to protect this critical habitat and a design sensitive to the waterfront and to birds could be an asset to the city,” they say. A public meeting to discuss the project had been scheduled for January 11, but it was postponed. Click here for more information about the marsh and the project, and to find out the new date for the meeting (not yet known).

This afternoon I found myself near Four Sparrow Marsh, so I headed over with my camera and tromped around in the snow a bit.

A pale moon, just past first quarter, was rising:

Since I was already out-and-about and with cold feet, I decided to check out the nature trail at the Salt Marsh Nature Center, another place I’ve driven and boated by without stopping.

Here’s a parting shot of some cold ducks:

 

The Salt Marsh is worth checking out. I’ll be back when it’s warmer.

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On November 30, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance held its 2010 Waterfront Conference. This all-day event was hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York. More than 600 people attended the conference, representatives of the various non-profits, government agencies, and other groups that use and care about our waters and waterfront. One hundred five individuals made presentations at two plenary sessions and fifteen panel discussions. Obviously I couldn’t attend every session. Here is a summary of what I heard.

The morning started with a boat tour around New York Harbor. We headed first to the New Jersey side near the Statue of Liberty where we heard brief remarks about the Comprehensive Restoration Plan from representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and Liberty State Park. Then it was over to Red Hook to hear about New York City’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan from the city’s Economic Development Corporation and the Department of City Planning.

Water taxi and tug in the East River

Lower Manhattan skyline (I can never resist taking this picture)

The morning’s plenary session, moderated by New York City Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, covered the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and regional opportunities for collaboration and funding. Speakers came from New York City government, New Jersey government, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The first panel discussion I attended was “Why is the NY-NJ Harbor Missing the Boat?” As a recreational boater, I was really looking forward to hearing what this panel would present. But I was disappointed that the presentations and Q-and-A focused more on bringing tall ships to New York than on providing docking opportunities for recreational boaters. Captain John Doswell (Working Harbor Committee and North River Historic Ship Society) made a very interesting presentation on what makes the perfect pier. He stressed that the perfect pier must be constructed for multiple uses such as recreation, emergency, and historic vessels. They should be able to accommodate boats with different amounts of freeboard, should have cleats and bollards that are easily accessible, and should be level and with straight edges, and the pilings should not be in front of gates.

Jamy Madeja (Massachusetts Marine Trade Association) noted that a University of Michigan study found that every $1 spent by a recreational boater on a slip or a mooring equaled $4 spent at local businesses. She also mentioned that Federal Boating Infrastructure Grants to build, renovate, and maintain facilities for transient boaters are available pretty much for the taking.

Mason Sears (SF Marina) talked about the concrete floating structures (also known as docks) that his company makes. Doswell gave them high marks.

Captain Bert Rogers (American Sail Training Association) remarked that the “water’s edge is not a boundary, but an entry to adventure.”

The next session I attended was “The Oyster and the Clean Water Act.” Wayne Jackson (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2) described the Harbor Estuary Program and its goal of having all open waters in the harbor be fishable and swimmable. All the panelists agreed this is a long way off. Jim Lodge (Hudson River Foundation) talked about the Oyster Restoration Research Project, a two-year study to determine the possibility of restoring oyster reefs in the harbor. This is a joint project with the Corps of Engineers, the NY/NJ Baykeeper and the New York Harbor School. Debbie Mans (NY/NJ Baykeeper) talked about her great disappointment that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection had ordered the removal of oysters from the experimental reef located in New Jersey waters. She said the project will go ahead with the reefs in New York waters.

Paul Greenberg (author of Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food) noted that conservationists are by nature nostalgic, whereas the general public is forgetful. He said the success of conservation programs in Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound is because there is still a living memory of what it used to be like in those areas. The oysters have been gone from New York Harbor for so long that the living memory is also gone. We need to create a new living memory here. Success in New York, he said, will lead to other coastal communities following our example.

The last panel I attended was “Floating the Blue Highway—The Economics and Rationale for Water Mass Transit.” This was the most exciting panel I attended. Pierre Vilain (HDR) presented the results of a study based on U.S. Census Bureau data that showed where people who use ferries live and work. Paula Berry (NYC & Co.) discussed a pilot project from this past summer that showed that recreational users would use water mass transit. Her group teamed up with New York Water Taxi to run a NYHarborWay water taxi that linked waterfront parks on the East River.

David Hopkins (New York City Economic Development Corporation) discussed the role of water mass transit to relieve overcrowding on other forms of mass transit, such as PATH, and to serve areas not served by other forms of transit.

Rex Asiedo (New York City Office of Emergency Management) talked about the role of ferries in emergency situations such as evacuations, blackouts, and the crash of US Airways flight 1549 into the Hudson.

Carter Craft (waterfront planner and consultant) reminded us not to forget about regional freight ferries and the role they can play in getting trucks off the roads.

Tom Fox (New York Water Taxi) talked about his idea for high-speed, long-haul ferries to connect the area’s waterfront parks such as Jacob Riis Park, Robert Moses Park, and Jones Beach. He also described his vision of the East River as the Grand Canal of New York. He sees express and local ferries running uptown and down and out to the airports. He said that to be successful, water mass transit must be integrated with and run like terrestrial mass transit, with passengers having the ability to transfer from one boat to another and between the different modes of transit. According to Fox, three things are needed to make this a reality: 1) public investment in infrastructure, 2) private investment, and 3) political will.

After the recap session, where the leaders of the fifteen panels presented brief summaries, we headed over to the Battery for an evening boat tour and cocktails.

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There is still time to register for the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s 2010 Waterfront Conference. This full-day event includes not one but two boat tours of New York Harbor and brings together representatives from government, educational, non-profit, and private entities to discuss various aspects of the future of our waterfront. Discussion topics include the reintroduction of oysters to our waters, how to attract more recreational boaters, how to fund waterfront projects, getting kids on and in the water, and more.

Click the picture to go to MWA’s website for more information and to register. See you at the conference!

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The Hudson River Park Trust recently announced the opening of Pier 25 at North Moore Street. It is the longest pier in Hudson River Park, and according to the park’s website these amenities are now open:

  • Skatepark
  • Playground
  • Esplanade and seating areas
  • Synthetic turf field
  • Viewing scopes

And these will open in Spring 2011:

  • MiniGolf
  • Sand volleyball
  • Community dock
  • Historic ships
  • Refreshments
  • Watertaxi
  • Mooring field
  • Comfort station

Wait a minute! Does that say “community dock”? Why, yes it does! Pier 25 will have a real town dock.

The Hudson River Park Trust is still working out some operational issues regarding boats at the pier, but Noreen Doyle, the trust’s executive vice president, told me that “the town dock measures 360 feet in length,” and beginning in the spring “it will serve a combination of transient boat users and customers of the mooring field, which will also be located to the south of Pier 25.”

Karen and I were very excited to hear this news. We look forward to visiting the pier with Puffin next year, and we applaud the Hudson River Park Trust for giving recreational boaters a town dock in lower Manhattan.

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We are very pleased to announce that A Movable Bridge has partnered with the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance to help make their vision a reality. Through the work of MWA and its Alliance Partners, the waters of New York Harbor will become cleaner and more accessible to a wide range of users, from recreational boats to ferries, tugboats to canoes and kayaks, those who swim to those who fish. Residents and visitors to the area will no longer be cut off from the waterfront and the water but will find numerous opportunities to use the water for fun and for transportation.

Click the picture to go to our profile on the MWA website.

And here are two reminders about upcoming events:

1) The deadline for public comment on the New York City Department of Planning’s draft recommendations for the comprehensive waterfront plan is 5:00 p.m. on November 12. Go here to read the recommendations and here to submit your comments.

2) MWA’s 2010 Waterfront Conference is November 30. Click here for more information and to register.

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Here’s a close-up look at another vessel at work in New York Harbor, the schooner Pioneer, owned and operated by the Seaport Museum New York (formerly the South Street Seaport Museum).

This is the block at the end of the fore boom. The line running through is the foresheet, which is used to control the angle of the sail with respect to the wind.

 

These are the mast hoops. The hoops go around the mast, and the sail is attached to the hoops.

 

This hook is attached to a block, part of the preventer tackle. It’s used when sailing downwind to prevent the boom from swinging from one side of the boat to the other.

 

And this is some decorative ropework at the base of the fore traveler.

 

Pioneer‘s season is over, but come spring you’ll be able to sail on her.

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