What Do High School Students, Kayakers & Sailors Have in Common? Eco-Dock Arrives in NYC
Lane Rosen with students from John Dewey High School on Schooner
Recently, at the American Veterans Memorial Pier in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Eco-Dock’s ribbon was cut as it became open to the public. With the financial support of Councilmember Vincent Gentile, Borough President Marty Markowitz and Mayor Bloomberg, this 1.1 million dollar project is a fully functional and hurricane resistant dock that will accommodate large historic and educational vessels as well as small, human-powered boats, i.e. kayaks. It will be a destination for “floating classrooms” to study marine life, and aquatic sciences in New York City.
Members of Education Update were invited by Lane Rosen, assistant principal at the John Dewey High School in Brooklyn, along with his students and groups from other schools to board “The Pioneer”, the first schooner to use the Eco-Dock. Before we boarded, remarks were made by Veronica White, Parks Commissioner, Vincent Gentile and Roland Lewis, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. Council Member Vincent Gentile, who provided the lion’s share of funds for the project, spoke about how this dock is the first eco-dock open to the public in the city. It will allow anyone to conduct yacht tours, sailing, and kayaking. He quoted Jackie Gleason, saying “how sweet it is!” It was a truly sweet moment. As he and others spoke, an FDNY (NY fire department) boat pointed its hoses high and blasted water making huge, graceful arcs on the waterfront.
The dock itself is made of four spuds, which are large cylinders that let the dock shift up and down with the tide. It can shift up to twenty feet in case of a flood. It is also lit up with solar panels. On board the ship, which was built in 1885, the group was given a lesson in sailing by Captain Donald Chesley. Chesley spoke about safety on board, and instructed the group to raise the sail and “drop the peak (rope)”. The people on board watched out for the “boom” (horizontal beam at the bottom of the sail) and were “ready for the throat” (the vertical pipe that supported the lift of the sail). As the boat sailed out into the harbor, Lane Rosen and his students expressed words of excitement over the opening of the dock. Demetry Lyons, a student at John Dewey, was interested in getting on a boat, hanging out with friends on it and learning about marine life. Another student, Charles Murria, wanted to go kayaking and learn about the harbor.
Melissa Garcia, a member of the Catalyst Program that reclaims waterfront parks and engages communities to support them, said that projects like the Eco-Dock will connect students of lower income backgrounds to have access to the water. She believes that this dock will increase interest in colleges like SUNY Maritime and Kingsborough Community College that teach maritime trades and green industry job training. There will be programming at the Eco-Dock headed by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA), a non-profit organization. Teachers and educators can contact the MWA at email@example.com to schedule a program at the Eco-Dock.
With the season almost over for water activities, perhaps people should spend the winter giving thought to how they can enjoy their spring and summer. Next year can be a boon of excitement and fun having waterfront access in Bay Ridge. It can open doors and allow people to experience the natural wonders of New York City on a level that even overshadows the great skyscrapers and bustle of city life. #