Sharing the Water

The Hudson River’s becoming crowded these days, what with construction of the temporary trestle for the Westchester County shoreline; Rockland County will have one, too, in July.

Rowing groups are concerned about water restrictions, especially since pile driving began for two 1,000-foot platforms that will be present during the five-year project.

“It will put a damper on us,” Jerry Rodriguez, president/coach of the North Rockland Rowing Club, Inc., said.  With rowing season in full swing — the end of March until November 1 — members are in the water early before heading to work via the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry, or by car.  There’s little time to travel to other locations.

Supported by small grants and funds, the all-volunteer NRRC, operating at Admiral’s Cove Marina in Haverstraw, has been building its programs — including a scholastic program, a summer rowing camp, and the 5:45 a.m.-to-7 a.m. masters group — since 2004.

Rodriguez said membership would drop if river use was restricted. “And if that happens, we can’t afford to pay insurance or membership dues to the United States Rowing Association.”

NRRC was excited to register with RegattaCentral for the first time last October to compete in the Hudson Valley Brickyard 5000, a new rowing event. “We’re trying to identify the Hudson River as a major crew area, and would like it to become (as popular) as Philadelphia, Cambridge, and Saratoga are,” he said.

About 100 kids in Nyack-based River Rowing Association’s rowing program will be on the river after Memorial Day.

“The kids use rowing not only as a great form of exercise and as a means of participating in a wonderful team sport, but many also use rowing to bolster their chances for admission to college,” RRA president Ivan Rudolph-Shabinsky explained.

Sharing the river with construction workers and machinery could jeopardize momentum built by its scholarship program. Can’t they row elsewhere?

“The simple answer, is it’s complicated but important that we row close to shore, with as little current as possible in as protected water as possible — rowing south from Nyack, and rowing north from Piermont,” RRA director Joe Devoe said.  Safety is the main reason — hypothermia is an issue if a boat flips in chilly air and water; strong river currents make it more difficult.

Last month, Devoe, Rudolph-Shabinsky, and RRA director Peter Klose explained their predicament to TZC’s Carla Julian, special project advisor Brian Conybeare, and a representative from the Thruway Authority.

“Recreational boaters will still be able to enjoy the Hudson River during construction,” Conybeare said.  “Tappan Zee Constructors is required to maintain navigability under the current span, but boaters must comply within the existing 25-yard restricted zone around all bridge structures.”

“It’s going to be difficult to coexist safely once the volume of work and pace of construction heat up, sometime in the middle of summer,” Devoe said.

“TZC and the New NY Bridge community outreach team are working with the U.S. Coast Guard, local boat clubs, rowing clubs and marinas to keep boaters informed about the project and ensure their safety,” Conybeare said.  “We do encourage boaters to stay clear of construction areas at all times.”

Rodriguez anticipates a future meeting with project officials, while hoping bridge construction won’t thwart rowing club efforts to bring much-needed commerce to the area.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

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