By ROBIN FINN
AMANDA KRAUS stood in her favorite spot on the second-floor deck of the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, which floats in a cove on the Harlem River where Dyckman Street meets the Harlem River Drive. She watched as a pair of $45,000 shells, each propelled by a gaggle of high school students, eight to a squad, rushed past. “When done right, it’s poetry in motion,” she said of rowing crew.
But when done wrong? Blades catch. Boats lurch. Competitions are lost. Disharmony and strife ensue.
That, more or less, is what has happened at the Sharp Boathouse over the past two years, as two nonprofit champions of local rowing — the New York Rowing Association, which had a contract to manage the boathouse, and Ms. Kraus’s Row New York — have been engaged in a battle for control.
The boathouse, designed to resemble the Calvert Vaux-designed Dairy in Central Park, with a zinc roof, board-and-batten siding and wraparound balconies, was built by a local nonprofit powerhouse, the New York Restoration Project, founded by the entertainer Bette Midler in 1995 to restore neglected parks in the city’s poorer areas. Ms. Midler envisioned it as a place where local youths would learn to row crew, and perhaps earn entry into the worlds that top rowers inhabit, worlds that can include Ivy League educations and Olympic berths.