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In Media: Baiting the Community - Group Aids East River Fishing
Marine Fisheries Resource Center: Small Grants - News

Credit: Sari Chang of Jacobschang Architecture

A new bait station opens on the East Harlem Esplanade.

 By Kelsey Jean-Baptiste; Published in The Uptowner 
(covering Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Inwood, Washington Heights and East Harlem in NYC)

East Harlem, NY, October 25, 2019 - Fishing became easier and cleaner with the installation of a new bait station on the East Harlem River Esplanade this month.

The Bait Station allows fishermen to assemble, bait, inspect and capture fish in a designated space, day and night, instead of gutting their catch over the ledge or on the ground.

“This provides an interesting idea to activate the waterfront,” said Sari Chang, head architect at Jacobschang Architecture, who led the project and explained that the bait station is also a public artwork. “It is an interactive sculpture,” she said. “It is not simply utilitarian. Art transcends it use.”

In addition, Chang said that the stations are handicap accessible and lit by solar panels, which  “leaves a light foot print.”

The Bait Station idea came from the Friends of the East River Esplanade, which focuses on repairing the waterfront walkway from East 60th to 120th Streets. The organization also brings public art to the riverfront.

“We started as a grassroots group,” said Jennifer Ratner, who chairs the organization, which has been fighting to revitalize the esplanade for 10 years. “The real focus was the East Harlem portion, because the esplanade was falling in. Money keeps getting allocated to it, but it was still getting worse and worse. The 107th Pier is still literally falling into the water,” said Ratner.

Credit: Sari Chang of Jacobschang Architecture

To improve conditions for fishermen who previously had to bend over an aging railing to grab, gut, and clean fish, the group came up with a way to allow safer fish handling.

New York Sea Grant, a federally funded environmental program, gave $15,000 for the project. The design and construction was done pro bono by Jacobschang Architecture, Maspeth Welding, SMI Construction, and Silman.

“This project has been a fine example of creativity at the intersection of business, the arts, and community,” said Vera Galvez, director of operations for Maspeth Welding, in an email.

SMI Construction provided supervision, materials, fabrication, transportation and installation, said Steve Marks, its founder and president.

“Now it shows that we can do this very easily with multiple versions in an affordable way,”said Chang.

The Bait Station is not the only action Friends of the East River Esplanade is taking to rehabilitate the esplanade.

“The city has to spend more than $70 million to repair the stretch of the esplanade,” said Ratner, but she’s hoping the bait station “sparks an accessorized reinvention of the East Harlem waterfront.”

More Info: Marine Small Grants

This project was supported by a partnership between New York Sea Grant, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Marine and Coastal District of New York Conservation, Education, and Research Grants Program.

Funding is supported from the Marine and Coastal District License Plate which is administered by the Marine and Coastal District of New York Conservation, Education and Research Board, and authorized through NYS Environmental Conservation Law Article 13, Title 5 Section 13-0503. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Stony Brook University or New York Sea Grant.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter,"NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog, www.nyseagrant.org/blog.

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This website is supported through a partnership between New York Sea Grant, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Marine and Coastal District of New York Conservation, Education, and Research Grants Program

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