For the first time in decades, the Bay is connected to the Ridge and the Ridge to the Bay with the grand opening of the city’s first ever EcoDock, located at the 69th Street Veterans Memorial Pier.
The ribbon-cutting took place with much fanfare, including upbeat tunes performed by the Xaverian High School band and the docking of schooner ship The Pioneer on Thursday, October 17.
Four years in the making, the Eco Dock will be a recreational and educational tool for not only the neighborhood but for the entire city. There will be regular programming at the dock, including recreational vessels, which will essentially serve as “floating classrooms.” Students will be able to study chemistry and work with oyster pots, among other activities. Kayaking will also be possible – if you bring your own.
“Visitors are flocking to our coast and we want to provide them with a way to get exercise…and coast to work,” said Parks Department Commissioner Veronica White, who is also a Bay Ridge resident.
The $1.1 million dock was the brainchild of Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who worked with the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) to make the vision a reality. Gentile recalled the famous words of Jackie Gleason as he looked at the dock that morning.
“How sweet it is!” he said. “The waterfront of Southern Brooklyn is open for all. It’s a dream come true. We have access to the waterfront in a whole new way. Today we are cutting the ribbon on years of public programming.”
Vessels from Manhattan will be able to dock at the pier, bringing those who may not have visited Southwest Brooklyn to its neighborhoods.
“It will bring diners and shoppers to Bay Ridge – a boon to our real estate and small businesses,” Gentile said, noting that the dock will only be open when programs are taking place. It will be locked at all other times.
This season will be a short one, with programming only running through Thanksgiving. But next May, Ridgeites have a whole summer of kayaking and sailing to look forward to.
“After seeing this, I want one in my district, too,” said Councilmember Peter Koo of Flushing, who is chair of the Council’s Waterfront Committee.
Borough President Marty Markowitz was out of town, but Chief of Staff John Paul Lupo was in his place, joking that Markowitz flew the coop because he did not want to kayak.
“We are re-imagining our city of water as a connective tissue,” said MWA President Roland Lewis. “The future is more Eco Docks, in Hollis Cove, on Dyckman Street in Manhattan and across the bay in Stapleton [Staten Island].”
That morning, students from Fort Hamilton High School, Bay Ridge Prep and John Dewey High School got to take a tour on The Pioneer. Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny and Councilmember Domenic Recchia were also on hand.
To book a program or trip at the Eco Dock, call Jose Soegaard of the MWA at 212-935-9831 x 107 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.