One neighborhood’s good fortune is another one’s problem.
Some of the long controversial “party boats” that have roiled Sheepshead Bay for years will be relocated to Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT), much to the dismay of residents, elected officials, Community Board 7 leaders and more.
Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz and Councilmember Chaim Deutsch announced on Tuesday, April 24 that three of the boats will be relocated in May to Mill Basin, with other boats moving to BAT this fall.
In a statement, the New York City Parks told this paper, “We can confirm that three boats will be moved to Mill Basin in May, and three will remain at Sheepshead Bay until September while repairs to the Brooklyn Army Terminal are completed. All late-night operating cruise boats will be removed from Sheepshead Bay by September 1. Specific details are still being finalized.”
NYC Parks contended that the problems that have been reported in Sheepshead Bay such as rowdiness, drunkenness and other issues, won’t occur in Sunset.
“The city is committed to ensuring that all late-night operating cruises are respectful to residents, no matter where they are, and that docking locations will continue to be financially viable for cruise operators,” the statement added. “All of the boats are contractually obligated to follow noise restrictions, which include no loud music until they are away from residential areas. Docking privileges will be revoked if the rules are not followed.”
However, Sunset Parkers are concerned.
“The Sunset Park community has historically been a dumping ground because our elected officials are not held accountable by the electorate,” said Tony Giordano of Facebook group Sunset Parker. “We already have party boats launching from our waterfront and they have caused middle-of-the-night brawls. This will just add to it. It is frustrating to see elected officials in other communities standing up on their behalf and in Sunset our officials are silent.”
But, elected officials warn that they will not let the boats create havoc in Sunset.
“Unruly party boats are not welcome in Sunset Park,” Councilmember Carlos Menchaca wrote this paper in a statement. “I’m offended that the administration is trying to relocate obnoxious business activities without publicly consulting elected officials, community boards and residents. If party boats proved too difficult to manage in Sheepshead Bay, then there’s no logic in pushing them to even more locations. The city should enforce respectful and legal behavior from event boat operators and their patrons, on shore and on the water, before and after events. If they can’t be controlled then shut them down. Neither Sunset Park nor any neighborhood should be used as a convenient dumping ground for a problem that should have been solved long ago.”
“These party boats located on the other side of Brooklyn had a lot of problems because of the noise and nonsense that took place,” added Assemblymember Felix Ortiz. “There were a lot of complaints from residents about the noise coming from the pier. I don’t want that to be the case in my community. If it happened over there, it’s going to happen in this community. I don’t believe we should bring this kind of negative influence of drinking, noise to our residents. What kind of safety nets has the mayor’s office put in place in order to ensure that it doesn’t happened in this community?”
Community Board 7 (CB 7) has also has issues with the planned relocation of the boats.
“It appears to us that rather than resolving Sheepshead Bay’s problems, they’re moving into another neighborhood,” said CB 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer. “I have no qualms about folks from Sheepshead Bay wanting to get rid of the problem but it appears the city isn’t prepared to improve conditions, only move pieces around.”
Laufer said he is concerned about the impact of the party boats on the neighborhood, given the problems reported by Sheepshead Bay residents, including, he listed, “public drunkenness, drunken driving, fights and public urination.”
Chair of CB7 Cesar Zuniga also expressed concerns.
“Personally, it’s a little troubling to me, given everything happens to end up in Sunset Park,” he told this paper. “I’m willing to listen to the pros and cons and let’s see what we come up with. I’m not sure that our community should take on this other burden. There could be economic opportunities but I don’t know what they are and I’d like to understand a little better if there are any. I think we need to decide if this is what we want in our community, these kinds of businesses. Let’s face it. When people get intoxicated, there’s the possibility of accidents and altercations, and it requires the resources of our community to deal with that. Does this make sense for us?”
Lack of communication is also an issue.
Although the mayor’s office reached out to Ortiz about the relocation, the assemblymember contended there had been a “lack of transparency” with respect to the community at large. “They called us Friday,” he told this paper, “but when I asked the neighborhood, there was no type of positive answer about hearing from the mayor’ s office about it.”
“That is probably the most disturbing thing at this point,” agreed Zuniga. “It doesn’t send a good message to the residents of this community. Much more powerful forces out there are making decisions about this community and we’re not included in the conversations.”
Laufer, who said that the board had only learned of the plans from news outlets serving other communities, noted that CB 7 intends to broadcast the information to area residents.
“We’re going to be on top of this issue and let the public know and be involved in public discussions about it,” he went on. “I doubt many residents within this community are aware of it. You’d have to find out from outlets in other communities to know about it. They’re not letting anyone know.”