From Bucolic to Bustling: a river-to-river snapshot

Development on land and at the river's edge are changing the Inwood landscape.

Development on land and at the river's edge are changing the Inwood landscape.

What a difference a year makes. Since last summer, much has happened in and around the boathouse. But changes are not limited to our little cove; there are changes happening at boathouses throughout the region. Still, an argument could be made that there are more transformations affecting paddlers in our neck of the woods than any other part of the city.

In addition to riverside changes, several inland developments will have an impact as well. The most significant change for the club has been the completion of the Hudson River Waterfront Path. A walk down the new blacktop reveals that river views have opened and wildflowers frame the path. Repro-retro lampposts dot the way and a new pourous retaining wall secures the hill where Amtrak’s rails run. The changes have brought bevy of new visitors to open house, to say nothing of curious passersby wanting to know more about the club. 

The $40 million for project was not enough funding to connect the new path to the bike path south of the Little Red Lighthouse, so the path is essentially a parkland cul-de-sac with world-class views. 

To the north, Greenway and Westchester activists are still lobbying to run a path next to the Hudson through Riverdale via a cantilevered bike lane crossing the Henry Hudson Bridge. Currently, cyclists are officially required to go inland and cross the Broadway Bridge. 

Just north of the boathouse, the restaurant and music venue La Marina, continues to be a hotbed of activity and controversy. They’re not alone. Several restaurants along the Dyckman have transformed the once quiet corridor into one of Manhattan’s liveliest summertime thoroughfares. Community meetings have become flash-points for residents disturbed by the increase of traffic and noise. But, there are others who argue that the increased activity represents the ultimate in what urbanist Jane Jacobs called “eyes on the street.” Both arguments will no doubt come to the fore in upcoming community meetings as the city considers rezoning the area. 

This season La Marina lives up to its name with newly completed docks and marina that now enclose the cove just north of our club. The pilings were placed over the winter and the docks were installed in May. Applications are now being accepted and it looks as though the traffic increase won’t be limited to land. Still, boating traffic on this side of the river remains light for now. 

Just north of the restaurant a proposal for a new eco-dock proposed by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance has fallen slightly off the radar. An eco-dock is a bi-level dock that accommodates both large vessels, like tall ships, and small, like kayaks. Northern Manhattan Parks Administrator Jennifer Hoppa said Parks is in conversation with the New York State Economic Development Corporation to realize the project. 

At the very top of the island, a new park built by Columbia University was the result of months of negotiations between the community and the university after Columbia built a new recreation center on the riverfront property. The park, called Muscota Marsh, opened with extensive coverage in the press that included a New York Times piece announcing that the dock would be available as a kayak launch to boats with city permits. Hoppa said she is working with the Sebago Canoe Club on placing 2-3 containers in the park for public and Park Department kayak storage. Access to the floating dock is still being discussed, though the Times listed the dock as one of the official city launching points open this season. 

Dock access was part of a “community benefits agreement” promised by the university, which also included $300,000. Conservancy North, a group of local park activists, has been tracking the project since the project started four years ago and is still lobbying to see the money allocated.  Allocation of the funds has yet to be announced. 

Back down on the Harlem River, our neighbors on the east side of Dyckman, the New York Restoration Project, continue to beautify and develop the Sherman Creek area. DNA.info reports that they hired the architectural firm of Bade Stageberg Cox to design a storm-resistant boathouse and education center. The winning proposal calls for two rusted-steel pavilions with perforated sides that allow storm surge water to flow through the boathouse. 

Directly across the river in New Jersey, LG electronics broke ground on the company’s 143-foot high tower that will beak through the heretofore preserved tree line of the New Jersey Palisades. Despite objections from four former New Jersey Governors and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the electronics giant has plowed ahead. The boathouse views will forever be altered. 

Not all are opposed to the LG project. A lively debate about the issue played out on the Inwood Canoe Club’s Facebook Page. We will continue to post articles there and here so feel free to join the conversation on Twitter at @inwoodcanoe or right here on the Turtle Blog, where we’ll continue keep you updated with local riverfront news.