BootLeg Betty

Thanks To Bette: Manhattan Welcomes First New Boathouse In 100 Years

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NY1 News
JUNE 17TH, 2004

Photo Scan: Thanks Divine Dutchie Sara

The city will open a brand new park and boathouse in Manhattan Thursday on what was once an illegal dump.

The five-acre Swindler Cove Park is tucked along the banks of the Harlem River at the end of Dyckman Street. It boasts Manhattan’s first new boathouse in 100 years.

“The boathouse itself actually is not built on a foundation. It’s not rigidly ttached to the ground,” said Armand LeGardeur, the architect of the boathouse. “It literally is on a float, and we literally brought it here from Connecticut.”

Bette Midler and her environmental group, the New York Restoration Project, persuaded state and city officials to help finance the project.

“She really believes that a beautiful environment is a right for every New Yorker, and understands that we need to bring additional resources to places that don’t have the private resources to form conservancies or [Business Improvement Districts],” said New York Restoration Project Director Amy Gavaris.

The waterfront site was once one of the worst illegal dumping grounds in Manhattan.

“There was no fencing here, so people would just drive their construction trucks, back in, and dump their stuff,” said Gavaris. “You’d have toilets and couches and cars. We even had a tree with a chair stuck at the top of it.”

The boathouse will have programs for rowing for young people in the community, and will give out scholarships each year to deserving students.

Students at nearby P.S. 5 also benefit, as the Children’s Garden in the Park will also feature gardening programs for kids.

A star-studded, $500-a-plate reception and picnic is planned to officially inaugurate the park tonight. Governor George Pataki will be the guest of honor.

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