Downtown Boathouse, a nonprofit group that runs one of New York City’s free kayaking services, is under threat, it says, from private companies encroaching on the waterfront.
The Hudson River Park Trust is preparing to issue a request for bids on its key waterfront spots and Boathouse president Graeme Birchall is afraid they could lose out to corporate interests who could offer the Park Trust more money. Downtown Boathouse has an operating budget of about $30,000 and relies entirely on volunteer support to operate. "We’re a little nervous with this [RFP] that money matters," Birchall told DNAinfo.
According to DNAinfo, the last time the Hudson River Park Trust asked for proposals in 2005, it expressed interest specifically in nonprofit organizations that could run a “low-cost or free community boating component.” Birchall is worried that that language has been excluded from the upcoming request.
“Our objective was to put lots and lots of [people] on boats,” Bitchall says. By all accounts the have succeeded. In 20 years of service, Downtown Boathouse has, by their own estimation, served more than 300,000 rivergoers. "It would be sad if we end up with a waterfront that had no access to the water unless you were rich.”