By Albert Amateau
John Krevey, a waterfront entrepreneur and activist who brought historic ships to Chelsea and ran Pier 66 Maritime, a popular gathering place, died Fri., Feb. 4, at age 62 while on a vacation with his son in Santo Domingo.
The cause appeared to be a heart attack and came as a surprise to his devastated family, friends and colleagues.
The Working Harbor Committee, a nonprofit civic association, honored Krevey last September for helping to revitalize the formerly decaying Hudson River waterfront.
“He was the waterfront before the waterfront was cool,” said his friend and colleague John Doswell.
Krevey was one of the earliest members of Friends of Hudson River Park, the civic group advocating for the 5-mile-long waterfront park. He was a member of the Friends’ board of directors until last year.
An electrical contractor by profession, Krevey ran his company, R 2 Electric, from rented space on Pier 63 at W. 23rd St. for more than 30 years. A lifelong enthusiast for historic ships, he bought the decommissioned U.S. lightship Fryingpan, which was lying in the mud in Chesapeake Bay in the early ’80’s. At great expense and with a group of a half-dozen like-minded enthusiasts, Krevey got the ship afloat, installed a truck diesel engine and started a legendary coastal sea voyage to the Hudson River in 1983. They encountered storms, engine failures and short rations before they brought the limping vessel into the Hudson.
The Fryingpan had several berths over the next few years, including Pier 25, at North Moore St., in Tribeca; Chelsea Piers; and the Intrepid pier at W. 46th St. The ship was even moored in the middle of the Hudson River at one point. In 1995, Krevey acquired an old railroad barge that had been used to ferry railroad cars across from New Jersey to Manhattan and tied it up on the north end of Pier 63, at W. 23rd St.
With Fryingpan as an attraction, Krevey turned the 350-foot-long barge into a public-access boat landing, Pier 63 Maritime, with a small bar and restaurant that became a neighborhood gathering place where boat owners could tie up.
In 2000, Krevey and friends put in a bid to buy the John J. Harvey, a decommissioned fireboat, from New York City. The Harvey found a home at Pier 63 Maritime. And on Sept. 11, 2001, the vessel helped evacuate Battery Park City residents during the World Trade Center attacks and then, under radio direction from the Fire Department, trained its powerful, functioning water pumps on the blazing towers.
Four years ago when the Hudson River Park Trust acquired Pier 63, Krevey was able to convince the Trust to designate the former railroad float bridge at W. 26th St. as the new site for the barge. It became Pier 66 Maritime and the new neighborhood gathering place.
Plans for Pier 66 Maritime are uncertain at this point.
Krevey leaves his wife, Angela, a son, Kyle, and a daughter, Kyra. Funeral arrangements are pending.