A fleet of kayaks will be the star attraction at the Canarsie Pier this summer.
The eight kayaks will be available for use by visitors at no charge, beginning July 10th, from Friday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., said John Daskalaskis, of the Jamaica Bay Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area.
“We’re hoping that the number of days will cover the demand,” Daskalaskis told members of the United Canarsie South Civic Association (UCSCA), gathered at the Hebrew Educational Society, 9502 Seaview Avenue, for their June meeting.
The kayaks will be accessed from an area west of the pier, according to Daskalaskis. “It’s a protected area, and we are going to put some buoys out, so people know it’s a kayak launch,” he explained. There are four other kayak launches within the Jamaica Bay area of Gateway, Daskalaskis said.
Daskalaskis said that the kayaking program was just one facet of summertime programming at the pier. Other activities planned for the summer months include Thursday night concerts, he said, as well as a kite-flying program in which participants are provided with the materials to build their own kite that they can take home.
And, of course, there’s fishing. “It’s a great chance to use our gear and cast a line out,” Daskalaskis told the group.
There is increased maintenance at the pier, as well, Daskalaskis said, with a crew on at the pier from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. “We are trying to make the peak times there a real safe, clean experience for everyone,” he stressed. In addition, said Daskalaskis, “The lights are on” at the pier. “We are trying to keep it that way,” he added.
In the past, there have been ongoing complaints about the cleanliness of the pier and surrounding area, as well as about lights being out.
Despite all this, the building on the pier that once held a sit-down Italian restaurant remains vacant, and doesn’t appear to be likely to be occupied in the near future, Daskalaskis acknowledged.
“I’m as frustrated as anyone,” he said, explaining that leasing the site has “been on the back burner for the business office. It’s not an easy fix,” Daskalaskis added, because, “Not anyone can be given the lease.” One of the concerns is that the prior business at the location had not been successful. “It will have to be a different business,” Daskalaskis went on.
What would succeed at the pier was debated by UCSCA members. While one contended that a high-end restaurant was what was needed, UCSCA Vice President Lenny Fogel disagreed. “To be successful,” he opined, “the building has to be converted into a conglomerate of fast food restaurants. People who go to the pier are not going to sit down for a long, romantic meal.”
The future of the concession may be determined as part of the new general management plan for Gateway, Daskalaskis said. That is now in the works, he went on, and Gateway will be reaching out to residents for their thoughts through a series of community meetings.
“I think it’s going to get done right in 2009.” Daskalaskis concluded. “I think we’re going to have a great plan for the future.”