Thursday, August 17, 2006

Historic Gowanus Boat Seeks Friend With Connections

The e-mail campaign that we wrote about to help the Empty Vessel Project boat keep its berth at the foot of First Street on the Gowanus Canal is still going on. And, we can report that, for now, the World War II Navy Rescue boat that is being rehabbed and used as a community-oriented space is still there, but the trigger can be pulled at any moment. The latest Empty Vessel Project e-newsletter ask people to keep sending e-mails to Dockmaster Dennis Cotto at expressing approval of EV's berthing and asking him to forward your message on to anyone who has the power to let the historic little boat stay. They request that e-mails be cc'd to and that anyone with tips about a new home e-mail EV to

The new e-newsletter says the group is still looking for "a free and safe new home" for the boat. Specifically:
We hope you can help us find the right person to talk to. There is a place on the Gowanus Canal, a mythical space called Public Place. Public Place is a 6.5-acre city-owned brownfield site situated along the west side of the Canal and bounded by Smith, 5th, and Hoyt Streets. It is bound for redevelopment in service of the community. Check out for some fabulous research into the space and the community by students from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

We think EV would be a happy boat if we could perch her at the watery edge of this Public Place. Our home at 1st Street, picturesque and convenient as it is, is surely temporary. We would love to align ourselves with the powers deciding the future of Public Place and become part of that future. This is an appeal. Can you help us find the right person to talk to? Email with your connections or ideas.
We're not so sure about the Public Place space, given that Keyspan and others are still trying to figure out what toxins are on the site and leeching into the Gowanus, and that a battle over the site's future is ahead. Or, maybe, it's a great spot for the EV boat.

We hope that one kind soul reading this might know someone who knows someone who knows someone that could help a boat with a proud history find a good, permanent home on the Gowanus. We do not want to cross the Carroll Street Bridge one day and find the boat gone, then check our email and discover that it was forced to set sail for Staten Island.


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