Free kayaking will return to Pier 40 this summer after all, Downtown Boathouse President Jeremy Hooper told us this week.
Downtown Express reported earlier this month that the kayaks would likely have to sit out a season, because the Pier 40 dock is deteriorating and the new space on Pier 26 is under construction and won’t be ready until at least 2011.
But Hooper said the boathouse is now prepared to do will do whatever it takes to keep the kayaking program afloat, including fixing the current Pier 40 dock or, if that fails, borrowing one.
“We are committed to being at Pier 40 [this summer] one way or the other,” Hooper said.
Hooper is getting an estimate for how much it would cost to repair the dock’s wooden substructure, which will likely be in the thousands of dollars. Other groups that use the dock, including the Village Community Boathouse, have volunteered to help with the labor, Hooper said.
But Jim Wetteroth, the former head of Downtown Boathouse, said he disagreed with the decision to fix the dock, because there’s already a new one waiting at Pier 26. Wetteroth was hoping the boathouse could move the program to Pier 26 this year, even though the Hudson River Park Trust said that would be impossible.
“I think it’s a waste of money if they do it right,” Wetteroth said of the repairs to the Pier 40 dock, “and it’s really risky if they don’t do it right.”
It looks like newly elected City Councilmember Margaret Chin is taking over the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee.
Alan Gerson, Chin’s predecessor, was the founding chairperson of the committee after 9/11, and it was unclear if the committee would stay in place following his departure at the end of 2009.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn won’t make the official announcement until the afternoon of Thurs., Jan. 21, but we have “solid unofficial” word from an insider as of Wednesday night that not only will the committee stick around, but Chin will be appointed to lead it. Chin’s and Quinn’s offices declined to comment for attribution pending the announcement.
Banks closure nears
Another announcement that could be coming this week is about the closure of the Brooklyn Banks skateboarding spot.
We first reported in October that the Banks would soon close so the city Dept. of Transportation could use the area for construction staging for the four-year rehabilitation of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Steve Rodriguez, owner of 5boro Skateboards and the Banks’ unofficial guardian, said the closure was initially slated for Jan. 15 but it didn’t happen. Now Rodriguez said it sounds like the D.O.T. will close the Banks before the month is up, but he doesn’t know of an exact date.
We’re also hearing that the D.O.T. will have an announcement about the Banks later this week, possibly with more specifics about what will happen to the Banks after the construction is complete, but Scott Gastel, D.O.T. spokesperson, would not confirm that. Gastel said the Banks would not necessarily close this month and that a date has not been set.
The bad news first: The Vesey St. escalator won’t be up and running until at least the middle of February, later than the state Dept. of Transportation originally predicted.
But the good news is that the necessary part (which had to be manufactured in Germany) finally arrived last week, so it doesn’t look like there will be any more delays. The escalator on the east side of the bridge has been down since it flooded in a severe storm Sept. 17. It was originally supposed to be repaired by the end of January at the latest.
Those who aspire not just to skate on the new Battery Park City ice rink but also to pilot the ice-smoothing Zamboni are in luck: The rink operators are offering Zamboni lessons for a hefty price.
Interested adults can take the eight-hour, $249 course anytime between now and Feb. 12. The course includes ice-time behind the wheel of the Zamboni, in addition to videos and reading materials.
The press release announcing the course quotes Rink Management Services President Tom Hillgrove as saying, “This gives people a unique opportunity to fulfill their dreams without giving up their day job. It is the ultimate ‘cool thing’ to do.”