What’s Up? (Canal) Dock!

Markeshia Ricks PhotosIt took about 20 years, but the new Canal Dock Boathouse is open and ready to connect people to water.

Mayor Toni Harp was joined by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and other officials on Long Wharf Drive Monday morning to cut the ribbon on the new 30,000 square foot facility, which replaces the historic Adee Memorial Boathouse the state tore down in 2007 to make room for the expansion of the I-95 Pearl Harbor Memorial “Q” Bridge. (Read more about the building of the boathouse here.)

Harp called the opening of the building a “watershed achievement in terms of coastal access and shoreline development in New Haven.”

The city owns the new building. A not-for-profit, Canal Dock Boathouse Inc. is responsible for operating and leasing the facility, which will be home to part of the University of New Haven’s Environmental Sciences program.

The building will be available for public and private events in addition to storage facilities for watercraft and water recreation programming for New Haven Public Schools.

“This new canal dock boathouse is the brick and mortar interface of the city’s old and new waterfront legacy,” Harp said. “On behalf of all city residents I thank everyone involved we couldn’t be more grateful; we couldn’t be more proud.”

DeLauro, who helped champion the nearly $40 million in federal funding that paid for the building of the boathouse and improvements to the harbor as part of the Q bridge project, called Monday “a very special day, very emotional day.”

“I’m a townie,” she said. “I love this city.”

DeLauro said it had been a dream of hers since her days in City Hall in the 1970s, and a dream of others to reconnect the rest of the city to its historic waterfront and Monday’s ribbon cutting was symbolic of that vision finally coming to fruition.

“We have the bridge and now have the canal dock boathouse,” she said. “It is such a joy to see the vision come through, and the people of vision here.”

Among the visionaries who had a hand seeing the project through were former City Plan Executive Director Karen Gilvarg, City Plan Senior Project Manager Donna Hall, and current acting City Plan Executive Director Mike Piscitelli.

Gilvarg, who retired in November and now splits her time between New Haven and New Orleans, said getting the boathouse to completion “feels great.”

“It’s great to see so many people starting to enjoy it,” she said. “It’s difficult and expensive to build safely near the water and this is great. I hope it is solid as it looks and lasts for generations.

“New Haven had been cut off from its waterfront, and you can meet people in the city who don’t really know that there is a waterfront. But it is the reason for European settlement and why the Quinnipiac were here.”

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, attendees were invited into the building to get a closer look at elements that harken back to the grandness of the original Adee Memorial Boathouse along with new elements that make the building a showplace of this current age. Architects Gregg Wies and Gardner designed the building. Nosal Construction is the contractor.

Visitors first experience those original elements at the main entrance of the boathouse when they step through the glass-enclosed restored façade of the Adee Memorial Boathouse. The façade of the original boathouse was restored along with many of the terracotta elements, which can be found throughout the building, including the cartouche from the gable end of the building and two of the finials that were on the roofline.

Hill Alder Dolores Colon said what sold her on supporting the building of a new boathouse was all the recreational programming, plus the opportunity for young minority children in the city to learn the sport of crew and potentially get scholarships to pursue higher education. She said she’ll be among those beating the drum at local schools to make sure students learn to swim and take advantage of all the new opportunities the new boathouse affords.

Hill South neighbor Angela Hatley was among a number of residents who attended the opening ceremony. She praised the final product. She said it gives the city something good to be known for beyond some of the recent negative events on the Green.

“I think they did a really good job,” she said. “The views outside are great and the history reflected all around.”

A community day and open house will be held on Saturday starting at 9 a.m with free community yoga. Games, tours and other activities begin at 11 a.m. A movie night will be held on the pier of the boathouse at 7 p.m.

Click the Facebook Live video below to watch some of the opening ceremony.

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posted by: JayC on September 17, 2018  3:30pm

What a lovely, wonderful addition to the City’s waterfront!  I congratulate all those who stayed involved over the many, many years it took to get to the finish line.  At the same time, significant mention must be made of John DeStefano, for his years-long insistence on the City receiving this building as compensation for the destruction of the Original Boathouse during the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge project.  Thanks, John.

posted by: Patricia Kane on September 17, 2018  3:43pm

The hand rails on the outside are beautiful.
  This should be a wonderful community asset.

posted by: darnell on September 17, 2018  3:49pm

Not one mention of former Mayor John DeStefano? Jeez!!!!!

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 17, 2018  5:30pm


You know the way this works.  The only way to get coverage is to be invited to the press-op!

Heaven Forbid that Toni would have to share the ‘accolades’ for somebody else’s ‘vision’!

posted by: wendy1 on September 17, 2018  5:44pm

I donated a $6000 boat and did not get invited i.e. I did more for the boathouse than Toni or Rosa.  I plan to hang out on the pier, use the bathrooms and recommend the benches to my homeless crew.  I may sleep on some of them myself on hot nights.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 17, 2018  5:54pm

Maybe we can wrap the budget in a big ribbon and see if Toni will ‘cut it’.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on September 17, 2018  6:58pm

Darnell and Bill, Mayor DeStefano was at the event and was thanked by several of the speakers. Markeshia wrote a news story, it’s not a transcript of the event.

posted by: Gimp on September 17, 2018  7:47pm

In my opinion this is a complete waste of money. I’ve been told it cost somewhere north of $30 million. Why put up a new building to house pieces of pottery from an old building which has been demolished? If they had any value the old building would never have been demolished. The only new thing here is a pier, about 100 yards from the Amistad pier, which is hardly used, so why build a new one? This folly will be costing the city for years to come. No doubt has kept some of the politically connected in city employment for a few years, but a CCCC- bond rating looms. Too many schools, too many transfer stations, too many piers, and one too many junk pottery museums.. If the city wanted to improve Long Wharf it should sweep up all the trash thrown about at the food truck station just a few hundred yards away. Better still, put trash bins there. A $!0,000 improvement the city could afford. We can all see our 11% mil rate increase has been an outstanding success.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 17, 2018  8:01pm


I am a firm believer when dealing with all ‘art projects’, that you acknowledge ‘your influences’.
I think that is a reporter’s responsibility to make sure that acknowledgment is there, especially if things happen as you say.

I know seems like a strange position for me to take, given my ‘history’ with Mayor DeStefano, but c’mon, what’s fair is fair…
Especially if we are to take our local on-line news source seriously as a ‘fair dealer’.

There are many new people in town that are unaware of the ‘political continuum’ in this small town.
To omit the information from an news piece seems like a disservice to our growing population and those with short memories.

It’s not all about the Harp Power Vaccuum.

posted by: opin1 on September 17, 2018  10:51pm

I wonder if some large potted vegitation/landscaping would be a good addition?  Maybe some palm trees like the ones at Anthony’s. (I’m not sure what they do with them in winter but those would look amazing here as well). Some potted ornamental grasses might look nice also.

It looks great, can’t wait to see it in person.

posted by: Scot on September 17, 2018  11:11pm

If the city wants to make the Harbor an enjoyable scenic recreational and entertainment area, they should speak with West Haven about the Haven development.  I was so disappointed to hear that that development is putting the parking lot on the prime waterfront property and the shops and restaurants on the interior of the land.


Perhaps New Haven could share its plans for the harbor with those developers and persuade them to put the restaurants on the water, and the parking inland. Even though we don’t share tax revenue, etc. with West Haven we would all benefit by having nicer, more accessible waterfront establishment close by.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 18, 2018  12:01am

This is a great asset for local fisherman! 
Is that an ‘allowed use’.... my guess is YES!

The DEP loves projects like this that give access to water resources! 

Might not be what the ‘visionaries’ foresaw, but screw ‘em…....

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on September 18, 2018  7:17am

Bill, the speeches went on for well over an hour and the speakers thanked a couple of dozen people. For example, Rep. DeLauro thanked several members of her staff and the ConnDOT deputy commissioner several of the agency staff. I’m sure all of these individuals contributed to the project.

posted by: jim1 on September 18, 2018  7:19am

Bill anywhere on the coast is good for fishing,  This might be a good spot if the fishermen clean up after there done.Just look at the mess at other fishing holes..

posted by: GK on September 18, 2018  7:58am

Commendations to all those who worked tirelessly to provide the City, and State, with such an important amenity.  Among many such people, we all owe John Pescatore our gratitude for sharing his deep experience and broad vision. Bravo.

posted by: 1644 on September 18, 2018  11:08am

Hartford’s Boathouse has been pretty successful, although I wonder how many poor Hartford residents use it.  The rowing programs currently being advertised come with a $700 fee and all none of the photographs show dark bodies.  As Wendy knows, shells are expensive and fragile.  Cost is why it’s a preppie sport.

posted by: wendy1 on September 18, 2018  2:07pm

I agree this is another colossal waste of dough….and a developer wants to put a MALL on Water St.,  West Haven.  Talk about heads in the sand;  we just lost North Carolina.  We went through SANDY in 2012.  My coffee table was made from salvaged wood.

In the meantime I wish PBass would advertise that this Sat. the 22nd there is a 12 hour fete planned for the public at the NEW boathouse.  And this place truly belongs to the PUBLIC.  I hope no one has to pay to use the blue Zephyr I bought for all of you (a beginner’s scull).  Today I learned Yale (my nemesis) fronted the country’s first university crew.  Frankly I love the boathouse and want to remind all of you about the wonderful IKEA ice cream cones ($1) across the way.  I love them too.  Thanks to all who agonized over this project even if it’s short-lived.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 18, 2018  3:05pm


If you have noticed, I have ‘modified’ my gripe to ‘incomplete reporting’.

It would have been easy—“among the visionaries were…. Picatelli, Gilvarg, De Lauro, etc….  and a special shout out to John Destefano, who’s ‘tenacity and vision’ put this project into motion’

But you are obviously a better man than I—
I could never sit through one of those endless self-congratulatory dog and pony shows!

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on September 18, 2018  6:11pm

Bill, thanks. I have mentioned in several posts that I was on the legislature’s nonpartisan staff for 30 years. This was scintillating compared to average public hearing.

posted by: Sylvester L. Salcedo on September 18, 2018  11:58pm

Unless New Haven is spelled with a “C” in the end, there is some assembly malfunction by the nautical flag speller in this picture if this ribbon cutting ceremony banner was supposed to spell out “New Haven” in nautical, signal flags…as a young naval officer many, many years ago, one of my most important jobs on the ship was to “inspect and ensure” that the younger, pesky, salty sailors did not assemble these nautical flags to spell something that is socially objectionable about the navy, or the army, or the Captain’s mother committing unnatural and loathsome physical acts with domesticated animals while we were making port calls overseas for a good laugh.  Here it looks like an innocent typo, or is it?  NEW (Answer pennant for what?  for color or spacing?) HAVENC…all that aside, the boathouse looks great, and cannot wait to visit…

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 19, 2018  11:34am


New Cave-In might be kind of prescient!