The city is planning to fix and expand the 79th Street Boat Basin, where dozens of Upper West Siders live on boats docked in the river.
The project will allow for the population living on boats to grow considerably, and will upgrade the docks so they’ll be more resilient as climate change continues to impact the city and its waterways.
Many people have expressed a desire to live at the basin. There’s currently a waitlist of more than 780 people, and it would take an estimated 14 years to get all of those people a dock. But storm damage and maintenance issues have made it difficult to set down roots (or anchors). The population of year-round residents has dwindled in recent years — to 33 boats, last we checked from a high of more than 100 — with residents complaining that the city and prior private landlords had allowed the place to deteriorate, causing many people to move away. The marina has running water and electricity.
Construction on the expansion is expected to start in October 2021 or May 2022.
The Parks Department presented the plan for the docks at a Community Board 7 committee meeting earlier this month. The board wrote a letter of support, and residents of the boat basin were supportive of the project, according to Barbara Adler, a member of the committee. “The entire committee and the community (mostly the boat people who live on those boats) were very supportive,” she wrote to West Side Rag. “It’s a $90 million project that will greatly improve the boat basin for those who live there and are transients.” Most of the money will come from the city, with $28.3 million from FEMA.
The docks remain damaged from prior storms, so some of the upgrade will involve repairing prior damage. But the vision the city has outlined is also quite ambitious.
The dockhouse, for instance, is expected to have an elevated section with a green roof that will be accessible to the public.
The city is considering various upgrades for the pier and docks, including concrete floating docks and a timber wave screen, according to the proposal they released at the meeting. You can read the full proposal here.
The whole area around the basin, including the cafe and rotunda in the park, is about to get a major renovation. That’s why the Boat Basin Cafe closed for good this year.
We previously interviewed two of the year-round residents about why they live there, their monthly costs (less than a co-op!), and more. Definitely a must-read!