79th Street Boat Basin to Receive $90 Million in a Total Reconstruction, with Anticipated Reopening in 2025? We Have a Sinking Feeling About That.




79th Street Boat Basin

Update (June 2023) With the marina deemed unsafe and vacated in 2021, the renovation has come to a screeching halt. Read excellent article on why in West Side Rag.

NYC Parks today announced the total reconstruction of the 80-year old West 79th Street Boat Basin in Riverside Park. The New York City Economic Development Corporation-managed project will make the historic marina climate resilient, enable more ecological research and education, and expand access for boaters. As part of the project, the entire site will be dredged to enable vessels to navigate the marina at all tidal cycles. The $89.2 million project is funded by $60.9 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio and $28.3 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“Our waterfront is one of the many things that makes New York City so special, and making it more resilient to climate change is critical,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I thank FEMA for their partnership on this project and for helping us secure a safer, more resilient future.”

view looking southweat from path North of Ballfields. Manhattan Community Board 7

“Preparing New York City for climate change means ensuring that every waterfront project also functions as a resiliency project. We’re factoring climate change into every single project we design and build,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency. “The reconstruction of this historic marina illustrates our approach in action: in addition to expanding the boat basin and increasing its accessibility, we are leveraging the power of resilient design to help it withstand rising seas and future storms.”

“After years of community requests for improvements to the Boat Basin, we are happy to work with our partners at NYCEDC to deliver a needed reconstruction for this beloved connection to the waterfront,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Thanks to funding from Mayor de Blasio and FEMA, the deteriorating wooden marina will be rebuilt as a modern, climate-resilient facility that increases access to boating and environmental research.”

Preliminary schematic of the reconstruction courtesy NYC Parks

The project will dredge the site and demolish and reconstruct all wooden structures, rebuilding the marina using modern resiliency standards. Failing timber will be replaced with steel and concrete support structures, and the floating dock pilings and dock house structure will be elevated to protect against storm surge.

Additional space will be dedicated to visiting educational tall ships, allowing for expanded partnerships with environmental organizations conducting marine-based research and education in the area.

79th Street Boat Basin

The upgrade will make the facility ADA-accessible for the first time in its over 80-year history. The project will also increase access for seasonal, year-round, and transient boaters by adding additional berths. A new low-freeboard dock for human-powered boating will be incorporated within the marina.

The project is currently in the final design stages and undergoing City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2023, with an anticipated reopening in 2025.

Rendering of promenade. Image courtesy CB 7.

Informed by the Waterfront Inspection program we coordinate with NYCEDC, which showed excessive deterioration to the site’s wooden dock framework and concrete foundation, Parks must accelerate the timeline for closure to ensure safety of all in advance of construction and all vessels will vacate the marina by November 2021. Parks will assist all permittees in relocating their vessels to area marinas until the project is completed–all current permittees will be given priority to return to the Boat Basin.

This project adds to more than $500 million invested in Riverside Park’s infrastructure under the de Blasio Administration – including $200 million to reconstruct the West 79th Street Rotunda complex, $348 million to rehabilitate the Overbuild, and more than $10 million to reconstruct pathways and staircases within the park. Mayor de Blasio has also funded an $11.5 million project to begin addressing the park’s drainage systems.

View south from A Dock. Courtesy CB 7

The West 79th Street Boat Basin was constructed in 1937 during Robert Moses’s tenure as Parks Commissioner. Designed as the “Recreational Boating Gateway to New York City,” the Boat Basin was built as part of the project to cover the tracks of the New York Central Railroad’s West Side Line, which also included a multi-level entry and exit from the Henry Hudson Parkway. Following damage from Hurricane Sandy, the marina’s fixed A-dock pier was rebuilt to modern standards in 2016.

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