More Use of Waterways Urged for Fun and Travel

April 2, 2009 at 12:13 am Leave a comment

 For a long time, the waterways of Brooklyn and the city were the region’s highways for commerce, travel and recreation.

Now there is a low tide of activity, but there are two waterfront use alliances, one Brooklyn-based and the other citywide, who made waves together for their visions and plans for full waterfront use for recreation and travel at an event in Bay Ridge.

“Using our waterways is not just about transportation, but about a way of living for use as a tremendous resources,” said Heather McCown, founder and executive director of the Sunset-Ridge Waterfront Alliance (SRWA), speaking at a fundraiser at the TRACE restaurant on Wednesday evening. “It’s about getting people on the water in boats, kayaks and canoes.”

In promoting that vision, she was joined at the SRWA “VIP Night” event by Richard Lewis, a Flatbush resident who is president and CEO of the citywide Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. “On Long Island there are many public docks and piers for water recreation. Why not have those here, too?”

Lewis showed the “City By Water” documentary from his alliance and the Municipal Arts Society. It featured water-use advocates such as Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, a longtime supporter of commercial and recreational waterfront development.

“We need to diversify our waterfront,” said Velazquez in the video, telling of a variety of uses for waterfront access and enjoyment, and the reasons that it helps improve people’s quality-of-life interests and the city’s economic well-being and vitality.

SRWA was founded as an outgrowth of a petition campaign launched in 2007 by McCown, who commuted to Manhattan from Bay Ridge by the X27 express bus. She found that using ferries from the 58th Street and 69th Street piers would be a better way of getting people around.

Green Festival, Youth Eco-Awards and a Ferry Survey

Last year the SRWA held a successful “Greening of the Ridge Festival” on the 69th Street Veterans Memorial Pier. The group will again do it this year on the pier, which was one of the terminals for the ferry service that connected to Manhattan and Staten Island before the Verrazano Bridge opened in 1964.

“We’re planning a bigger and better Greening of the Ridge for 2009 with more art, activities and music,” said McCown about the festival scheduled for Sunday, June 14. “It will be a really great day for people to be over the water and learn how to live in sustainable ways. In the future, there could be a water trail in Bay Ridge. All this can add to our community and its businesses and bring Bay Ridge back even further.”

The SRWA has a new initiative, the Green Youth Award Program. “It will encourage young people to submit environmental planned projects and cultivate environmental stewardship within our community,” McCown said. “Students in kindergarten through eighth grade are invited to submit a project aimed at raising awareness of community environmental issues. Categories include artistic, scientific or activism.”

Themes include recycling, clean air or water, alternative transportation, endangered species, energy and water conservation, and a green New York. Winning and honorable-mention projects and their creators, along with families and friends, will be honored at a ceremony at the festival.

On using the 69th Street Pier for ferry service, the SRWA launched an online only comprehensive ferry feasibility survey at or through its web site at

“This survey will be used to calculate the demand for ferry service at the Veterans Memorial Pier,” said McCown. “The data will be collected and analyzed, with a report for presentation to the city’s Economic Development Corporation before the end of 2009. It will present quantifiable data, which does not yet exist.”

There is “overwhelming support” for reinstatement of the Bay Ridge ferry service, McCown said, citing over 2,000 signatures presented to Mayor Bloomberg in 2006.

By Harold Egeln
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Entry filed under: Dive In, Public Waterfront. Tags: , , , .

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