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A note from  

MWA president Roland Lewis

"The horrible events unfolding in Japan over the last few days  

remind us as we work to open up  

our waterfronts and embrace our harbor, we must also remember  

how dangerous and unforgiving  

the sea can be, especially as we come to terms with the realities of global warming and sea level rise.  Our hearts, thoughts and prayers  

go out to the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami in  

North Japan. Contributions to aid relief efforts can be made through the Red Cross at, as well as many other organizations."




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is looking for an experienced and motivated individuals to work as either a part-time rowing coach with our Learn to Row programs or as an assistant coach. Compensation is based upon experience. If you are interested, please e-mail your resume and approximate availability to Rebecca Lam, Director of Administration at


Successful Manhattan sailing company is now hiring experienced sailors for all positions for our 2011 Summer Season. Charter captains, sailing instructors, camp counselors, crew, fleet manager. To apply, visit: 


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WaterWire is your platform for getting the word out. All comments, points of view, event notices, and letters to the editor, Alison Simko, are welcome.
Events on the Waterfront
Click on the links for details about these events. A calendar of events
may be found at

March 19

Performance: Ensemble Pi's Echosystem: Protecting Our Water
8p, Cooper Union's Great Hall, 7 East 7th St.

March 23
Workshop: Earth Celebrations Hudson River Pageant Costumes
6p, Church Street School for Music and Art, 74 Warren St.

March 24
Class: Using a GPS
6:30p, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen Club, 283 Lexington Ave.

March 2
Show: Paddlesport2011
12p, Garden State Exhibit Center, Somerset, New Jersey

March 26
Walk: Early Spring Migrants
10a, Jamaica Bay

March 30
Film & Discussion: The Story of America's Seafaring Women
6p, Community Church of New York
40 East 35th St.

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To the editor:

I'm horrified by the lead story in WaterWire (March 3, 2011) about federal slashes to environmental funding.

I recently wrote a story for Downtown Express about the return of harbor seals to New York harbor, which is believed to be due in part to the Clean Water Act of 1972 and the resurgence of the fish population on which the seals feed. There's a direct connection between environmental pollution, federal funding, legislative actions and the wildlife in our harbor. It would be terrific if those who care about these issues would write to their Congressional representatives and senators to tell them how much they care and to urge them to do everything in their power to bolster the Environmental Protection Agency.

Here's a link to my story in Downtown Express

Terese Loeb Kreuzer  

MWA Blue Bulletin Board
Interested in seeing presentations and discussions from MWA's 2010 Waterfront Conference last November? All that rich exchange can be yours! Click here for minutes and video
of all sessions.

Our addresses are no longer in service. All MWA emails end in

*The times of the high and low tides are for the waters off the Long Branch fishing pier on March 18, 2011. For tidal information at your specific waterfront, visit and the Urban Ocean Observatory
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TOCCONTENTS: March 18, 2011
WAVES Rolls Into Next Phase; 130 Projects Go Forward
Action Agenda guides projects over 3 years; Vision 2020 looks to the future

Community Says Columbia U.'s Proposal Misses the Boat
Regarding the "Boathouse Marsh Plan," some want more boathouse, less marsh

Historic Pier A Redevelopment Goes to the Poulakakos Team
NY Water Taxi tapped to provide waterside services

America's Women Seafarers Tell Their Stories
See a documentary, then chat with local women mariners

Comprehensive Ferry Study Released
NYC EDC looks at feasibility of routes, governance, funding and more

The Summer Begins to Take Shape
SAVE THE DATE: 4th Annual City of Water Day Festival set for July 16, 2011

Don't Miss this Boat
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy's Kings Pointer

Meet Some MWA Partners!

Bloomberg and Quinn Present 130 (Funded!) Waterfront Projects and an Ambitious Framework for the Future

On March 14, Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and numerous officials stood before a crowd of supporters in Brooklyn Bridge Park and unveiled a sweeping plan for New York City's waterways and waterfront. A DEP boat chugged by on the East River. The Brooklyn Bridge, undergoing repair, boomed and clanged overhead. "New York City has more miles of waterfront than Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Portland combined, but for decades, too many neighborhoods have been blocked off from it," said the Mayor. "We have made huge strides in re-connecting communities to the waterfront, and now we launching an ambitious plan that ties those projects together into what will be one of the most sweeping transformations of any urban waterfront in the world."   

Photo by Ian Douglas 


Ambitious, indeed. No fewer than 130 projects are in the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES) pipeline; all, said Speaker Quinn, fully funded and to be completed over the next three years. That's part one. Part two of WAVES is a blueprint for the future. Known as Vision 2020, this plan sets a sustainable course for the City's 520 miles of waterfront and, for the first time ever, offers a plan for the waterways themselves. 


See if any of those 130 projects are in your neighborhood! Click here to download the entire 190-page waterfront plan.


"Our water is the connective tissue between our boroughs and is, in effect, our Sixth Borough," said Amanda Burden, Department of City Planning Commissioner, using a term coined by Will Van Dorp of Tugster fame. "We are now planning for our waterfront and waterways with the same intensity and passion that we have traditionally planned for our land."


NYC Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky  stepped to the microphone. "By investing in and expanding the working waterfront," he said, "we will be creating immediate job opportunities for New Yorkers as well as a source of long-term economic growth for New York City. Developing our waterfront infrastructure, so that we can expand industries like container shipping, will allow us to stay competitive with other waterfront cities around the world."


Roland Lewis, President of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, praised the plan's balance. At the podium, he took the opportunity to call for a new governance structure for the waterfront. Then, as Mayor Bloomberg nodded on one side and Congressman Jerrold Nadler on the other, Mr. Lewis described a new effort led by the MWA and its partners called the Harbor Coalition. "We're working to get our fair share of federal funding for New York Harbor," he said, to applause.


Below are the eight key goals of WAVES, accompanied by a sampling of short-term projects and their expected completion dates.    


1. Expand Public Access to the Waterfront  

with new and expanded parks in all five boroughs

� Develop/acquire more than 50 acres of new waterfront parks (various dates)
� Expand and enhance 10 existing waterfront parks (various dates)
� Develop or initiate 14 new greenways and esplanades (various dates)

2. Enhance the "Blue Network"
and promote water-borne transportation and recreation

� Pilot commuter ferry service on the East River (2011)
� Establish design guidelines for best human-powered boat launch types and features (2013)
� Expand launch platform for canoes and small boats at Hunts Point-Riverside Park (2013)

3. Support the Working Waterfront 
by spurring new industrial, job-generating uses
� Renovate the

The marine container terminals of NYC

 South Brooklyn Marine Terminal
to receive ships and barges (2012)
� Complete environmental review of the New York Container Terminal expansion (2012)
� Improve the 65th Street Rail Yard in Sunset Park (2013)

4. Enliven the Waterfront
with uses integrated with upland
� Facilitate 21 waterfront development projects, spurring private investment of $150 million
� Create uniform landing protocol to facilitate the docking of historic vessels (2012)
� Begin construction of housing, parks and a school at Hunter's Point South, Queens (2013)

5. Restore the Natural Waterfront
and protect wetlands and shorefront habitats

� Implement $50 million in waterfront ecological restoration projects (2013)
� Restore tidal wetlands and marshland at parks in the Bronx and Brooklyn (various dates)
� Identify opportunities for large-scale oyster restoration (2013)

6. Improve Water Quality
to support public recreation and natural habitats

� Make $1.6 billion in upgrades to wastewater treatment plants (various dates)
� Implement $650 million in gray infrastructure (various dates)
� Invest $140 million to enhance drainage by acquiring land in Staten Island (various dates)

Building a public park on the shoreline, such as Transmitter Park in Brooklyn, above, requires permits from city, state and federal agencies. Photo courtesy of the NYC Parks Dept. 

7. Improve Government Oversight
of on-water and waterfront-related regulation

� Establish In-Water Permitting Task Force to reform regulations (2011)
� Create a one-stop shop to help navigate the permitting process for in-water construction
� Develop a wetlands mitigation bank and/or an in-lieu fee program (2012)

8. Increase Climate Resilience
to help the City better withstand coastal storms and flooding

� Update PlaNYC to establish a strategic planning process for climate resilience (2011)
� Work with FEMA to update the Flood Insurance Rate Maps to reflect current risks (2012)
� Revise NYC Coastal Storm Evacuation Zone maps based on updated data

Stay on top of the latest information and announcements about Vision 2020. Subscribe to email updates here. (back to top)
Regarding "Boathouse Marsh Plan," Neighbors Say How About More Boathouse, Less Marsh
At the northernmost edge of Manhattan, where 200-year-old trees in the city's last natural forest bend toward the Harlem River, a beautiful waterfront is seen by very few people. Access to part of this secluded shoreline, which has been controlled by Columbia University for decades, is in hot debate.

The university plans to expand its sports complex here, but to proceed by law it must provide public access to the waterfront. So, in its Boathouse Marsh Plan, Columbia says it will "gift" a university dock to the City, create new public waterfront access near its boathouses and restore one of NYC's rare salt marshes.

This aerial view above shows the Harlem River emptying in the Hudson River as it flows by Inwood Hill Park at upper left. The dock and proposed waterfront access is at "A," next to the white rectangle that marks Columbia facilities and the university's Baker Field. The buff-colored area to the left  of "A" is the marsh that Columbia proposes to restore.


A close-up of the marsh area.

Thanks very much, say some of the neighbors, but there's one big problem with this proposal. The so-called "public waterfront access" trumpeted by Columbia won't be truly accessible to the public. Infuriating critics further, the dock in question is on public land and has been used by the university for decades without compensation to the City.


Even if the university were to transfer the dock to the City, "water access [would be] actually highly restricted by an array of circumstances established by the university," said David Brodherson of the group Advocates for Inwood, Manhattan. "First, if a boater arrives by car with a craft, there is no parking. Second, if a boater does manage to get a craft to the edge of the property, he or she has a long carry to the dock for a relatively heavy and awkward object. Third, there is no boat storage available to help assure repeat use. Finally, the university will be using the dock also."

Other waterfront groups are chiming in. "We've been advocating for affordable access to rowing and other kinds of boating on the Harlem River, and we saw this as an interesting opportunity," said Katie Wheeler of Harlem River Community Rowing. Roger Meyer, founder of New York Outrigger Canoe Club, was more blunt. "The proposal is impractical and offers the public little more than what already exists," he said.

The dock in question is just outside the frame of this photo, on the right.
A Community Board 12 resolution urged that the dock be available for "direct waterfront and waterway access, not just for visual access, but so that people may use the waterway for fishing, boating and other forms of passive and active waterfront recreation." CB12 Chair Pamela Palanque-North said, "We need to make sure this little bit of land can be utilized by the greatest number of people." She added that she's a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 11. "They want to put boats there, too!" she said.

Despite concerns expressed by the boating community, the Department of Parks & Recreation accepted Columbia's proposal and on September 30, 2010 signed a Memorandum of Understanding, "without ever making a counter offer that reflected community benefits and, in particular, water access," said Mr. Meyer, adding, "Since the MOU was released, there has been no opportunity for park users with extensive boating experience to discuss the requirements of public water access with Columbia."

The Department of City Planning voted 11-1 in favor of the proposal on February 17. At a March 15 City Council hearing on the matter, Columbia's Joseph Ienuso agreed to accept the formation of an oversight committee on the project.

A Columbia spokesperson told WaterWire that the issue of access to the waterways would be the responsibility of the Department of Parks and Recreation once the dock has been "gifted" to the City. Mr. Meyer says this places an unfair burden on the taxpayer. "Columbia should pay for any infrastructure in the Boathouse Marsh project," he said firmly.

Harlem River in 1902
Recreational boating on the Harlem River, 1902.

He and other advocates will meet with Council Member Robert Jackson on Friday to talk about their views of Columbia's responsibilities. "The way it is now, the project has marginal benefits to the community," said Mr. Meyer, who hopes to eventually see a Harlem River boating renaissance. "Given that Columbia has sat on public land for 90 years without compensation to the public, and given that the City is currently budget-strapped, Columbia needs to step up and be part of a public/private partnership that will benefit the city and the public."                                           

Waterfront advocates around the City are calling for Columbia and the City to listen to the residents' concerns and ideas. "Upland access is critical," said Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. "The MWA hopes that Columbia University addresses the needs of the community as it goes forward with this proposal." (back to top)
Pier A on mapNew York Water Taxi to Provide Waterside Amenities
Harry Poulakakos has had his eye on Pier A for years, and on March 8, Lower Manhattan's senior restaurateur -- founder of Harry's at Hanover Square, beloved of Wall Street clerks and titans alike -- joined with his partners, son Peter Poulakakos and the Dermot Company, and snagged the landmark pier for redevelopment with multiple new restaurants, an oyster bar with outdoor seating, a visitor center and an event venue.

The Poulakakos father and son duo are well known to downtowners, dishing up top quality food and drink at Bayards, Ulysses, Financier Patisserie, Harry's Italian, Vintry and Adrienne's Pizzabar. At Pier A, NY Water Taxi is also part of the team, answering the call for an active dock. "We're very excited to be working as dock managers with the Poulakakos team," said Helena Durst, NY Water Taxi president.

Revitalizing waterfront access was an essential part of the Request for Proposals, as described by the Battery Park City Authority. Using $30 million from the City, the BPCA has spent the last two years overhauling the 1886 pier, replacing the deck, repairing the foundation and working on the interior and exterior of the building. The finished pier will feature more than 30,000 square feet of public plaza space and a 12,500 square foot public promenade.

Pier A was last occupied by the FDNY, which used the interior as a pipe and woodworking shop and the exterior as a fireboat station. The classic clock tower at the river end of the pier dates from 1919.

Peter Poulalakos said "My father's longtime dream since his arrival in Lower Manhattan over 50 years ago was to operate a facility in Pier A. We're excited that now our family has been given the opportunity along with our partners, The Dermot Company, to make his dream a reality and create a breathtaking historic landmark for both the community and tourism in lower Manhattan." (back to top)
See the Documentary "Shipping Out,"
Then Talk with Local Women Mariners

Linda L. Fagan is the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Commander and the Captain of the Port of New York. Jessica Dulong (right) is the chief engineer on the historic NYC fireboat John J. Harvey. Ann Loeding is a tug captain familiar with New York Harbor, the Erie Canal, the Great Lakes and Alaska. These women are part of a growing female presence in the maritime work force.

According to Betsy Haggerty, a director of the Working Harbor Committee and executive director of the North River Historic Ship Society, "women have been going to sea since the early days of our nation. Some got jobs by pretending they were men; others sailed as captains' wives and took command of ships when their husbands were unable. But until the second half of the 20th century, few women were hired in their own right."

The documentary "Shipping Out: The Story of America's Seafaring Women," which has aired on PBS, explores the history and attitudes that limited roles for women in the maritime world -- until recently. See the film on March 30 at 6pm, at the Community Church of New York (40 E. 35th Street), and then see what local women mariners have to say about their lives on the water today. The three women named above will take part in a panel discussion with Commander Linda A. Sturgis (left), head of the Prevention Department at Coast Guard Sector New York; Captain Coleen Quinn, Sandy Hook Pilot; Marissa Strawbridge (above), second mate for American Maritime Officers; Debra Tischler, commercial operator for Overseas Shipholding Group Inc. and former second mate on tankers, car carriers and bulk carriers.

Tickets are $20 and may be purchased at Advance purchase is strongly recommended. For more information, call 212-757-1600. (back to top)

Photos by Capt. Jonathan Atkin  

A Look at Integrating Commuter & Recreational Service, Among Other Valuable Analyses
A lengthy and long-awaited study on developing inter-borough commuter and recreational ferry service was released by the NYC Economic Development Corporation on March 15, one day after Mayor Bloomberg announced a rich future for New York City's waterfront and waterways (see story above) with the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy.

EDC identified 43 commuter ferry sites for further analysis, including those with existing service such as South Williamsburg, those with a landing but no active service such as Snug Harbor on Staten Island, and those where ferry service has been proposed such as Bay Ridge and Astoria. Profiles of the sites focused on local demographics and market potential, and acknowledged that infrastructure costs and possible physical constraints would need to be part of future analysis. The sites were prioritized by travel time, number of commuters, time and cost savings compared to private and public transportation, and other criteria.

Next, market demand, running time, potential networks and cost were used to evaluate and identify promising service corridors. Estimated subsidies per rider were calculated.

Looking north on the empty East River. Photo by Robert Simko.

The study discussed NYHarborWay, an initiative of NYC & Co. (the tourism arm of NYC government) that promotes Governors Island, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Battery, Liberty State Park in New Jersey, East River waterfront and South Street Seaport, Liberty and Ellis Islands, and Hudson River Park as must-see destinations. EDC's study investigated synergies between commuter ferry service and recreational service associated with these locations.

This map, showing existing commuter ferry routes, is from the Port Authority's web site.   

The study tackles governance and funding with detail, pointing out on page 91 that "many agencies control pieces of [ferry service in New York Harbor] but no one agency is responsible for governance and funding." The study suggests that the Port Authority -- the only agency whose authority spans New York and New Jersey -- could become the governing entity with centralized control over ferry service. Other governance options are discussed, as are ways to fund ferry service.

Click here to download the study (skip straight to page 108 for the EDC's recommendations). Policy-makers will be closely reviewing this information as planning and budget decision are made about the future of waterborne transportation. (back to top)


 Play, Learn and Help Revitalize the Waterfront at this Free Event
CWD 2010 East River CREW tableCity of Water Day is a free day of entertainment, education and adventure produced by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance that City of Water Day 2008celebrates the potential of our waterfront. Hundreds of organizations participate, offering free boat rides, fishing, games, films, performances, readings, crafts and much more -- and thousands of people join in. On July 16, 2011, make your way to Governors Island and Liberty State Park for the 4th Annual City of Water Day Festival.

To find out more about City of Water Day, click here. To take the City of Water Day survey and submit your suggestions for this year's festival, click here. (back to top)


Vessel: Kings Pointer
Owned by: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, NY
Location: heading north on the Hudson River, March 8, 2011
Job: This training ship was built in 1983, originally for the Navy for ocean surveillance. Today, its mission is "to supplement the classroom training at the United States Merchant Marine Academy by providing an operational shipboard platform for use by the academic departments and the Department of Shipboard Training.  The training program is one that will foster leadership, responsibility and accountability through the operation and maintenance of the vessel."

To track the positions of all the vessels in the Port of New York and New Jersey right now, click here.

Click here to send photos of vessels to WaterWire. (back to top)
Expanding every week, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance is more than a coalition; it's a force. We are ferry captains, shipping executives, park directors, scientists, sailors, paddlers, swimmers, teachers, urban planners, architects and more. Together, we advocate for the best possible waterfront in the best possible city, a waterfront that is clean and accessible to all, with a robust maritime workforce and efficient, affordable waterborne transportation. Join us! Contact Louis Kleinman at

Meet some Partners of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance:
  • Gaia Institute  

    The work of the Gaia Institute couples ecological engineering and restoration with the integration of human communities in natural systems.

  • Jackson Heights Green Alliance 

    Jackson Heights Green Alliance, Inc. (JH Green) is a community group dedicated to increasing and improving open spaces in our neighborhood.

  • Rahway River Association 

    The purpose of the Rahway River Association is to protect and restore the Rahway River and its ecosystem.

  • Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice
    Founded in 1994, the mission of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice is to rebuild the neighborhoods of Bronx River and Soundview/Bruckner in the South Bronx by preparing young people to become prophetic voices for peace and justice. We accomplish this through political education, spiritual formation, and youth and community development and organizing.
    (back to top)  
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