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Boaters Press for New Floating Dock at Dyckman Marina

By Carla Zanoni | January 26, 2012 8:38am

INWOOD — City dwellers may soon have a new place to moor their kayaks and canoes if a plan to install a floating dock at the ramshackle Dyckman Marina sets sail.

The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) submitted a proposal Tuesday to the Parks Department asking for approval of an eco dock — priced between $500,000 and $800,000 — at the western edge of Dyckman Street along the Hudson River. 

"Our idea is to open up neighborhoods that otherwise haven't had access to the water around them," Roland Lewis, the MWA's president and chief executive officer, told DNAinfo.

Uptown residents have limited choices when it comes to waterfront access. There's a fishing dock, but it's in disrepair. The private Inwood Canoe Club operates steps away from the proposed dock, but it's only open to the public on Sunday morning and during the summer. 

MWA defines an eco dock as "floating docks that rise and fall with the tide, making them accessible to all types of vessels at all times during the day and night."

It would serve kayaks, canoes, sculls and larger vessels and "would bring hands-on environmental education to [nearby] schools and community" members, MWA officials say.

The MWA is already in the process of bringing an eco dock to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. This dock will have two platforms — one for large vessels and one for kayaks and other small boats. 

Lewis said he's excited by the possibility of opening access to the Hudson River above 79th Street for historic and educational vessels such as the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Tugboat Pegasus, Fireboat John J. Harvey, and other ships operated by non-profit groups.

The expanded waterfront access would offer educational opportunities, and may even spur economic growth and tourism in Inwood, Lewis said.

A new restaurant is set to open at Dyckman Marina this summer and the owners have already said they are interested in providing some form of public waterfront access.

The Parks Department is also in the midst of renovating the bike path that connects the Greenway to the rest of Manhattan. 

Inwood residents who have sent letters of support to Parks Department Commissioner William Castro and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer describe a "lost connection" to the nearby river.

"MWA’s vision for a network of public docks that are available for little or no fee to the users will help restore this community’s lost connection to our waterways — connections that are desperately needed to grow the waterfront and foster waterway stewards that can advocate for a healthy estuary," reads the letter of support.

The alliance met Tuesday with Castro to discuss the plan. A Parks Department spokesman said it's under review.

Early last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled his "Vision: 2020" plan, which seeks to transform Manhattan's waterfront by adding parks, esplanades and open piers throughout New York City.

If approved, MWA's dock would be operational by summer 2013, Lewis said, and would put Bloomberg one stroke closer to achieving his waterfront goal.