$90 Million Boat Basin Overhaul

The Parks Department has ambitious plans for the battered marina on Manhattan's Upper West Side

09 Jan 2020 | 03:33

The 79th Street Boat Basin, one of the Upper West Side's quirkiest features, may get a much-needed $90 million face-lift if a Parks Department plan secures the necessary approvals.

Nate Grove, chief of Waterfront and Marine Operations for the Parks Department, presented the proposed plan to Community Board 7’s Parks and Environment Committee on Dec. 16th.

The project will demolish the facility’s aged wooden support structure and replace it with modern steel and concrete construction to meet modern waterfront codes and climate resiliency guidelines.

The work will include dredging the basin to increase the depth of the water, which will improve navigation at all tides and mitigate tidal surge. In addition, debris/ice protection will be restored and the number of slips will be increased to address the 14-year wait list, which has nearly 800 names on it.

The project is funded by $28.3 million from FEMA and $60.9 million from the mayor.

Located in the Hudson River, along the shore of Riverside Park at 79th Street, the marina, completed in 1937 and expanded in 1968, is maintained and operated by the Parks Department and is the only facility in the city that allows year-round residency in boats. However, only 10 of 116 slips are occupied year-round, and as of Nov. 1, 2010, department rules prohibit houseboats from docking at the basin.

A Favorable Response

While the CB7 committee listened to the presentation, no resolution was made or voted on. The committee (not the full board) is working on a letter that will recap the Dec. discussion and include issues questions for future consideration.

Elizabeth Caputo, co-chair of the committee, said attendees at the meeting supported the project. “The response was quite favorable from the community that was in the room,” she said. But she stressed that no decision was made and she hopes the Parks Department will return in a few months when the project is ready for a vote.

According to Caputo, members of the public at the meeting were especially keen on the idea of increased accessibility to the marina, and that the project focuses on climate resiliency guidelines.

“Using that space for a place that is environmentally friendly and accessible and sustainable is what our committee cares about,” she said. “We care about the environmentally sound practices. Our focus as a board is making sure that any project in our district is fairly and equitably serving all those who use the park.”

The Parks Department plan calls for construction to begin in June 2021 and be finished by October 2021 or May 2022.

Dan Garodnick, president and CEO of the Riverside Park Conservancy, said the condition of the Boat Basin is one of a number of challenges facing the park. “Riverside Park has enormous infrastructure needs – from flooding, to crumbling staircases, to the work surrounding the repair of the Rotunda and Boat Basin, and beyond,” he said. “We appreciate that the city is beginning to focus its attention on Riverside Park in order to address these issues. It is long overdue.”