The concept – paddling from park to park in New York City.
Before planes, trains and automobiles, boats carried people from one place to another by way of rivers, lakes and oceans. New York City is surrounded by such bodies of water, yet its shoreline has been largely dominated by commerce and industry for centuries.
“Throughout the city, parks along the shoreline are being built and renovated to reconnect the public with the water—Baretto Point Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Hudson River Park, Fort Totten Park and Fresh Kills Park to name just a few,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Among the amenities available at these parks, many have or plan to have canoe and kayak launches. To connect these sites and enhance the users’ experience and safety, I have asked our Queens Borough Commissioner, Dorothy Lewandowski—a water sports enthusiast and an accomplished kayaker—to spearhead the initiative to create a NYC Water Trail.”
“As an avid kayaker, I am delighted that the opportunities for kayaking right in my own backyard are expanding,” said Commissioner Lewandowski. “And I am thrilled to be working to create a comprehensive guide that will enable people to safely travel throughout the City via its waterways and to thoroughly enjoy their day at sea.”
The NYC Water Trail is an on-going process—there are already 11 more sites in planning and more than 15 identified as potential sites.
The NYC Water Trail will provide information on safe and legal access to the waters surrounding all five boroughs of New York City. The project will identify park and non-park launch sites along the trail. The guide will also provide recreational, educational and scenic opportunities on each leg of the trail.
Last winter, Lewandowski began researching other cities and organizations that had developed water trails. After reviewing their materials, she reached out to organizations such as the American Canoe Association, the New York State Hudson River Valley Greenway, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and the Hudson River Trail Association to gain input about developing a NYC Water Trail.
Earlier this year, she met with Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance Director Carter Craft, Hudson River Trail Association Metropolitan Regional Director Nancy Brous and New York State Hudson River Valley Greenway Trails and Special Projects Coordinator Scott Keller to chart a path for the NYC Water Trail.
In the spring, they organized a meeting with many NYC kayaking clubs and organizations to seek their assistance in surveying the existing kayak locations for specific site details, safety concerns and local information relating to history and wildlife. At the start of the project there were 13 sites listed on the Parks website but over the course of surveying, 13 additional sites were identified and added to the trail. Throughout the summer, volunteers completed surveys of all 26 sites.
Parks is now creating a web-based map and guide of all launch locations, including non-parks, such as those run by the National Park Service and private companies. The interactive map will link to specific site information and photos of each launch. There will also be links to the various kayak organizations and institutions that provide nautical, instructional and safety information. Parks was also approached by the New York based organization Going Coastal, which is now working with Parks on developing a printed version of the Water Trail. Both the printed version and the new Parks web page will be “launched” in the spring of 2008.
The NYC Water Trail is an on-going process—there are already 11 more sites in planning and more than 15 identified as potential sites. As waterfront development projects continue and shoreline access increases, the NYC Water Trail will continue to expand. For more information on canoe and kayak launch sites in New York City parks, visit http://www.nyc.gov/parks .