Eco Dock likely to close for summer 2015 due to gangway design flaw

Eco docked: Ridge’s floating classroom may not open this year

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Bay Ridge’s newest waterfront attraction may be off limits this summer because of a faulty design.

A gangway connecting the Eco Dock to 69th Street’s American Veterans Memorial Pier is busted, and it may not be fixed in time to reopen the floating public space for the summer because the city say it has to review the design, according to a local pol who was a driving force behind the aquatic amenity.

“What that redesign means is we have to get funding for it, and it probably — almost certainly — means it won’t be open on time,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) who kicked in $800,000 for the $1.1-million dock. “I’m just worried it may take too long to salvage the season.”

Buffeting waves from a late-season storm broke bolts fastening the walkway to the dock, even though parks officials crowed during a 2013 grand opening that the structure could stand up to the most punishing storms.

“And with lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy, we have built the dock to stand up to future storms,” parks department commissioner Veronica White said during the opening.

But a parks spokeswoman clarified that the commissioner was referring to the dock itself, not the walkway connecting it to the pier.

“The Eco Dock at the 69th Street Pier is structurally sound,” said parks spokeswoman Maeri Ferguson. “The dock was designed to withstand events like Hurricane Sandy. The four pilings which secure it in place were increased in size and height, and the robustness of the piling collars was also increased.”

Representatives from Ocean and Coastal Consultants, which designed the dock, did not return calls for comment.

The city doesn’t know how much the study or repairs will cost, a spokeswoman said.

The breakage should not have come as a surprise, given the dock’s position near the Narrows, according to maritime experts.

“Everyone going into it knew it was one of the tougher locations,” said Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, which hosts programming at the Eco Dock.

A charter boat captain with 50 years of experience in New York Harbor said the location is great for user access, but it’s not an ideal place for an Eco Dock.

“For the people who use it, it’s a perfect area and it serves a great purpose, but I think it’s a tough location. There are prevailing winds, no wave break, and boat traffic causes wakes and waves,” said charter boat captain Jim Chambers, who was critical of the plan for the dock when it was floated in 2012. “It’s a wide-open area.”

But the fact that only the gangway failed is a good sign for the dock’s future, Lewis said.

“We’re very reassured that parks department experts came to conclusion that the gangway is worth repairing,” he said.

Last year, 3,000 people visited the Eco Dock, according to the parks department. The pier will remain open while engineers determine how to shore up the gangway, according to an agency spokeswoman.

Lewis said his group will host events on the pier itself while parks works out the next steps for the Eco Dock.

“We’re in a wait-and-see mode,” he said. “We’re still hoping to do as much as possible, and are working on alternate ideas on the pier. We don’t want to lose the momentum and great spirit that was out there last year.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

MJ from Bay Ridge says:
someday the shaking from the Eco Dock will tear the pier down entirely. $1 million wasted.
March 9, 2015, 8:50 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
The Eco Dock is a complete waste of money, another one of Vinnie's idiotic distractions. This guy has been in office for decades and cannot, or will not, address the horrendous subway service on the R line that affects thousands of people, every day.
March 9, 2015, 8:56 am
ty from pps says:
How many votes does the NYC Council have on the MTA's governing board?
March 9, 2015, 9:36 am
ty from pps says:
Yes MJ -- We shouldn't ever build anything because "someday" that thing might wear out.
March 9, 2015, 10:54 am
John from Bay Ridge says:

The NYC Council has zero votes on the MTA Board, but you knew that already. But that hasn't stopped several other City council members from effectively advocating on behalf of their communities for better subway service. And it certainly didn't stop Vinnie from wasting years of time and effort on MTA bus service issues that benefited only a relative handful of people.

Keep trying Ty, you may get something right.
March 9, 2015, 11:08 am
ty from pps says:
So, John. Sounds like your problem is that Vinnie is not doing *more* with his position. Advocacy for transit (no direct control) and funding for this education-based project (direct control) are not mutually exclusive.
March 9, 2015, 11:29 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
Ty, my problem with Vinnie is that he doesn't get things done on the most important issues, and concentrates instead on fluff and non-essential matters.
March 9, 2015, 12:07 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
News Flash:

Councilman discovers there is such a thing as T-I-D-E!

Appoints a study group instead of retaining an engineer.

Study group employs a contractor who knows how to make contributions.

Contractor finishes just after the season.
March 9, 2015, 12:24 pm
Richard from Williamsburg says:
Seems like a lot of political trolling related to race for Congress rather than discussion of article. Waste of time for all.
March 9, 2015, 1:39 pm
TOM from Sunset Park says:
There always the leeward side of the 58th Street Pier or the Bush Terminal Piers Park at 43rd Street. Both are more protected from the tides, not adjacent to a WWTP and have ample parking.
March 9, 2015, 2:35 pm
John from Bay Ridge says:
It's not political trolling to point any of these issues out. There has been a major problem with Vinnie for year.
March 9, 2015, 3:03 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Tom, don't you know people from Gentile's district are afraid to go into Sunset Park?
March 9, 2015, 6:07 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
is this Eco dock going to be used for the planned ferry service to Manhattan?
March 9, 2015, 6:59 pm
Alan Smithee from Park Slope says:
Ferry service? No. This is a light pontoon dock that any competent contractor could have fixed in a month tops.
March 10, 2015, 7:53 am
ty from pps says:
The problem is the walkway, not the dock itself. All the more reason why the timeline is ridiculous -- though not surprising. However, haven't we all resigned ourselves to the fact that everything in this city is built by inept contractors that provide low quality workmanship at extremely inflated prices?

Do we recall the recent story of the East River State Park dog run that *somehow* is going to cost $800,000 to build!?! A chain link fence, wood chips, few days of excavation/landscaping... this costs as much as building a small apartment building (with a chain link fence).
March 10, 2015, 9:03 am
ty from pps says:
Sorry -- the dog park is only $700,000.

At the top end of union wages (including benefits) this represents the salary of about 5 workers for a WHOLE YEAR. And five men should be able to build a dog park in about 2 months.
March 10, 2015, 9:07 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
once upon a time, workers were able to build one skyscraper in one whole year in NYC.
March 10, 2015, 11:29 am
Captain Buzz Nightfalls from Henry's Bar/Shantyside says:
ArGhh!! I await the day this useless pile sinks into Anchor Bay!! Arggh!! -The briny deep will soon claim this Eco Dock and restore me filthy pier to it's plebian glory!
March 10, 2015, 2:05 pm
Linda from Bay Ridge says:
Didn't Parks Dpt tell Vinny this would happen? He seemed not to care and wanted his photo op press conference. Now another million has to go into this to save face? Embarrassing and poor leadership. Vinny's staff can sit on their behinds all day and try to spin this but this is just so sad for Bay Ridge
March 19, 2015, 7:14 am
Charlie from Bay Ridge says:
Great idea. Bad design. The kayak portion is awash and growing slime on it's deck even in mild weather, rendering it unsafe to use. The Gangway, treated by Roland Lewis and Maeri Ferguson as though it were an accessory, is an integral part of the dock design. The claim that it was broken by "buffeting waves from a late season storm" is a flat out lie. It wasn't broken in a storm. It failed in completely mild weather last fall. It never saw a single storm. The bolts didn't break. The hinges connecting it to the pier sheared off. They appeared to be made of some soft aluminum alloy rather than steel. They looked like overgrown door hinges, only capable of up and down movement. They could not have long accommodated the twisting, bouncing motion to which they were predictably subjected. The good fortune is not that only the gangway broke, but that nobody was on it when in plunged into the water, I repeat, on a fine, mild day.
It's no surprise that the consultants who designed this white elephant don't return calls. They are probably following their lawyer's advice.
I agree with the Parks Department that the float itself is pretty beefy. It will probably be there for decades as a lasting monument to their incompetence and, alas, dishonesty.
April 26, 2015, 10:34 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: