UPPER WEST SIDE — A new volunteer group formed this fall is set to take over and expand a free neighborhood kayaking program along the Hudson River this summer.
The new Manhattan Community Boathouse will now be offering free kayaking on the Upper West Side in place of the Downtown Boathouse, which ran the program there for 10 years and was formerly the only free kayaking organization in Manhattan.
The Manhattan Community Boathouse was formed by volunteers of the Downtown Boathouse, after the Hudson River Park Trust limited operators to operating from only one pier.
Between May 31 and Sept. 28, Manhattan Community Boathouse will offer free kayaking on both Saturdays and Sundays at the West 72nd Street dock from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., said Kaitlin Petersen, the volunteer organization's president. In the past, Downtown Boathouse only offered kayaking there on Sundays.
Manhattan Community Boathouse will also run free weekend kayaking from Pier 96 at West 55th Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on weeknights from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. starting May 17, she said.
"We have a lot of volunteers that are ready to go up there," added Petersen of the two West Side locations.
While the Downtown Boathouse has traditionally run its free kayaking program from several locations, the Hudson River Park Trust required boating organizations to bid for only one boathouse in an request for proposals issued this fall. The park runs from West 59th Street down to Lower Manhattan.
"We could only bid for one boathouse. So we bid for our old home — at Pier 26 in TriBeCa," said Downtown Boathouse President Graeme Birchall.
In March, the Manhattan Community Boathouse won the bid from the Hudson Park Trust to run the boathouse at Pier 96 at West 55th Street, Petersen said. The Parks Department, which oversees West 72nd Street, granted the Manhattan Community Boathouse permission to operate at the uptown pier, an agency spokesman said.
Those interested in taking out a kayak must sign a liability waiver, be able to swim and be accompanied by an adult if under 18. For more information, visit the website.