2010-04-22 / Top Stories

Pols Reveal Park Service Plan To Revitalize Canarsie Pier

By Neil S. Friedman

Rep. Towns (at right) listens as Rep. Weiner talks to small gathering at Tuesday press conference about possible changes at Canarsie Pier. Neil S. Friedman        Rep. Towns (at right) listens as Rep. Weiner talks to small gathering at Tuesday press conference about possible changes at Canarsie Pier. Neil S. Friedman Congressmen Ed Towns and Anthony Weiner this week announced that next month the National Park Service would begin accepting proposals from vendors in what they are calling “the first step towards the revitalization of Canarsie Pier.”

At a brief press conference held on the Pier Tuesday morning, the two elected representatives, along with Dave Taft, Coordinator of the Jamaica Bay Unit of the National Park Service, said that after years of exhorting the federal agency to take action to revive the Brooklyn landmark, it has released a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) for applicants for a restaurant in a space that has become an eyesore since it was last occupied in 2002. The federal agency is also reaching out to the public for the next couple of weeks for ideas on how to revitalize Canarsie Pier.

Nearly four years ago Towns, whose 10th Congressional District constituents regularly visit the seaside setting, and Weiner, whose 9th C.D. encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens, including the Pier, called on the National Parks Service “to immediately solicit bids for concession spaces” so that Canarsie Pier may once again provide service to visitors. But NPS concerns over the cost of refurbishing the dilapidated building that had housed a couple of restaurants over the years resulted in delays or as Weiner and Towns implied in 2006, “simple neglect despite interest from merchants.”

That will all change on May 3rd will hold an open house for interested vendors to tour the 5,500-squre foot space on the Pier’s west side that was occupied for 20 years by Abbracciamento’s on the Pier then by Sunset Landing followed for a few years. The Pier is part of Gateway National Recreation Area, the nation’s largest urban national park.

Towns said, “It doesn’t make any sense to ignore the Pier,” which has so much potential and attracts an estimated 500,000 visitors annually, according to the Park Service.

He also said, “I cannot think of a better way to use federal stimulus funds than to revitalize the Pier.”

“This is an important first step in ensuring Canarsie Pier becomes the cultural and recreational hub it once was,” Weiner said. “Rep. Towns and NPS have been crucial in moving this project forward, and I look forward to working with them to see the Pier transformed into the recreational destination Brooklyn residents have been waiting for.”

Towns said, “The development of Canarsie Pier is both significant as a community recreational area, as well as a symbol of this nation’s commitment towards national parks. It is a unique space that should not go to waste.”

On weekends — and some weekdays — throughout the year, but especially when the weather’s warm the Pier is a popular spot and recreation area for fishermen, bird watchers, picnickers, as well as, families and children who enjoy the large grassy area and playground in the adjoining areas. Despite overflow crowds on some summer weekends, the Pier lacks any services or concessions for visitors.

Instead of providing ice cream or beach chairs or fishing gear, the location “has become an eyesore,” Weiner and Towns wrote in a joint letter they sent the Gateway National Recreation Area superintendent four years ago.

Weiner also said “Expanding services at Canarsie Pier will allow even more New Yorkers to enjoy the outdoors without leaving the Big Apple.”

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