BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — No more excuses, it's time to get paddling!
City and state officials celebrated the addition of a $170,000 community "eco dock" to the Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday, ushering in the start of the summer kayaking season.
The effort, which was spearheaded by the Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, took six months to construct, and will give visitors to the Brooklyn Bridge Park more opportunities to use the waterfront, said the park's President Regina Myer.
The floating eco dock, which is the first of its kind in New York, rises and falls with the tide, making it easier to maintain and launch boats from, park leaders explained.
"The new Pier 2 kayak dock means even more people will have more access to more of Brooklyn Bridge Park and our waterfront," said State Senator Daniel Squadron. "That's great news for all of us."
Kayaks will be available for use on Thursday nights and all day long on Saturdays, according to the park leaders.
The kayak dock is just one stage in a project to fully redevelop the formerly industrial Pier 2, which will eventually become home to other sports and leisure activities in the near future, beyond just access to the water, officials said.
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse and its volunteer membership will operate the kayaking program and help train and guide first-timers to small vessels on the East River's waters.
"More than half of the people that come here have never been in a small boat in their lives and it's a big deal for them," said boathouse member Bill Orme. "But they come back over and over again."
Giselle Sanchez, from Manhattan, was one such first-time visitor. She had been walking with her family in the park and noticed the new dock.
She and her children have never kayaked before, but her kids were excitedly scrambling on board.
"I would be out there too!" she said, adding that she planned to return. "I didn't know this was here, so I am in a skirt today, or I'd be out there with them!"
More than 10,000 visitors have taken to the water with the kayaking summer program that currently is in operation. The program provides free kayaking sessions and lessons for the public right from the waterfront.
Brooklyn Assemblywoman Joan Millman came to the opening to show her support. She said it was refreshing to see so many people out on the water.
"For so many years of living in the Heights, you could always see the water and never get to it," she said. "We took taxpayers dollars and put it into an event that is really worthwhile."