Fishermen Are Finally In For A “Reel” Good Time!
Fishermen eagerly waited for Canarsie Pier to reopen after Superstorm Sandy forced its closure in October 2012. Finally, on Monday, they got their wish when the gates opened for the first time in almost seven months, bringing a smile to the faces of local fishermen and community residents.
Hugh Blackman had the biggest smile – he caught the first bluefish of the day. “We have been waiting for the pier to open since Sandy. We heard a lot of mixed stories and it actually opened sooner than we expected – we’d like to give thanks to everyone who made this possible. We’re happy to be back home,” Blackman said.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries toured the pier with representatives from the National Park Service (NPS) in April to get a first-hand assessment of its structural condition. At that time, it was thought that there would be uncertain delays in reopening the pier due to sustained damages and the need for a safety assessment by engineers. In response, Jeffries pushed to have an expedited study conducted to determine the nature of any repairs the structure would need to undergo in order to ensure it could safely reopen to the public.
“I applaud the effort by the NPS to conduct a timely and comprehensive evaluation of the structural soundness of the pier. Thankfully, the report concluded that Canarsie Pier is safe and can reopen just in time for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend,” said Jeffries.
Another happy resident, Angelo Figueroa, a retired NYC firefighter, said that he started coming to the pier as a kid with his older brother. “That was over 50 years ago, when it was an old wooden pier. I remember thinking how great it was that I could get so close to the water and not get my feet wet. This is such a wonderful place – you can relax and clear your mind here. It’s been a long wait after Sandy. I wanted to be here the first day.”
This is the 48th year that Frank Bologna has fished for blues at the pier. “I’ve been coming here since I was 10 years old. We don’t just come here to fish; we come to socialize, too. This place is my home,” he said.
Three million dollars in federal funding has been allocated to repair the Canarsie Pier, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area ($1.2 million to repair the Visitor Center and $1.8 million to repair storm damage to Canarsie Pier and Docks). Additional funding has been set aside for park-wide projects involving sea walls and maintenance, but that money has not been divided among NPS units yet.
“Superstorm Sandy may have knocked us down, but we’re getting back up,” Jeffries said. The re-opening of the pier is great news for the neighborhood, whose voices have been heard. Canarsie Pier is back, and I look forward to working hard with the community to make sure that, moving forward, it will be better than ever,” Jeffries concluded.
Photos by Linda Steinmuller