Onrust means “restless” in Dutch, and that is what fans of the beautiful, locally made Dutch sailing ship replica of the same name are feeling when it comes to finding a home for it in Schenectady. The Schenectady City Council at its meeting tonight should make clear, to the city’s own zoning officer, state officials, city residents and any other interested parties, that it still wants to take advantage of a promised state grant and build a seasonal dock for the boat somewhere along Schenectady’s waterfront.
The zoning officer, Steve Strichman, made an already difficult situation worse when he took it upon himself to declare, both to Stockade residents and state officials, that a controversial plan to build the dock in the Stockade Riverside Park was dead. He did so after reading a Gazette story in late December and mistakenly concluding that Scotia and the Onrust’s organizers had an agreement to base it there.
The advantage of the Stockade plan, which the Gazette endorsed, is that it would bring historic-minded tourists, by water and land, to the Stockade. The visitors could take a walking or bicycling tour of the district, looking at its historic houses, eating at its restaurants, staying at its lodging places. And perhaps they would venture a little farther, to downtown and its new attractions.
But there were strong feelings among Stockade residents, for as well as against, with opponents saying it would bring noise, traffic and undesirable activity to the tranquil park. The City Council, in our view, addressed those concerns by saying that the dock would be smaller than the original 300 feet, just big enough just for the Onrust and a couple of boats to tie up temporarily, and that it would be moved elsewhere after two years if there were problems.
That still seems like a reasonable way to go. The dock would be for the good of the entire city, and it should be the City Council’s call, not Stockade residents’. Nor should it be up to Strichman to say where the dock should or shouldn’t go, without consulting the council.
East Stockade residents actually want a dock and would welcome the Onrust. But previous plans for a dock there involved a private residential project that isn't going to happen; and the area is pretty remote, with security likely to be a problem.
If the council decides to abandon the Riverside Park site, a good alternative could be Gateway Landing. It is adjacent to the Western Gateway Bridge, close to the Stockade and State Street, a very visible location where vandals would have less cover. Add some cameras and the Onrust could have a secure, accessible, attractive home.