May 13, 2013 By Bill Parry
A new Long Island City-based canoe club has formed, founded by a number of past LIC Community Boathouse members.
The group—called HarborLAB (LAB stands for Learning Adventure Boating)—was created by Erik Baard, who founded the LIC Boathouse in 2003.
Baard stepped down as the chairman of the LIC Boathouse in 2008 and since then has been involved in a series of highly-publicized arguments with a smaller, affiliated boating group– called The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club—which later assumed control of the LIC Boathouse.
For Baard and other former LIC Boathouse members, HarborLAB represents a fresh start.
HarborLAB had its inaugural fleet launch on Saturday, when its members took part in the Bronx River Flotilla, a 5 km canoe race on the Bronx River. The new club currently has about 25 members and about one dozen canoes/kayaks. However, by June the group anticipates that it will have about 30 canoes/kayaks.
The club plans to offer programs in environmental education, stewardship and restoration from a launch site located on Newtown Creek. The club is able to get access to the water via a relationship it has forged with the owner of a warehouse at 53-21 Vernon Blvd.
The group is currently storing its boats in the backyards of friends in Sunnyside and Glendale. However, members are trying to raise funds for their own boathouse next to the Vernon Blvd. warehouse launch site.
In the meantime, Baard is still doing battle with the Gowanus Dredgers Club. Baard is being sued by Dredgers members for violating copyright law, when he established the LIC Community Boathouse Facebook page after he left LIC Community Boathouse.
Baard claims that the Dredgers were merely an affiliate group and never merged with the LIC Community Boathouse, so it isn’t theirs to claim.