One neighborhood’s relief may become another’s problem.
Starting May 1, the party boats that have roiled Sheepshead Bay will no longer be able to pick up and unload passengers in that neighborhood; instead, they will be relocated to other Brooklyn areas, including Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT), according to Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz, who represents the southern Brooklyn nabe.
“This is a fair and reasonable resolution that will help restore Sheepshead Bay’s quality of life during the summer months and bring in weekend visitors who were reluctant to come here because of the crowds and backed-up traffic on Emmons Avenue,” Cymbrowitz said. “I’ve said all along that you can’t have thousands of people boarding and disembarking from party boats in the middle of a residential community.
“I’m pleased that the city listened to us,” Cymbrowitz went on. “This is an important change for Sheepshead Bay – one that’s been a long time in coming.”
But, while Cymbrowitz is pleased, Sunset Park elected officials and residents are perturbed.
“The Sunset Park community was loud and clear last year about how obnoxious, unruly and unwelcome the party boats were to our side of town,” Councilmember Carlos Menchaca told this paper in a statement. “To learn that even more boats may be coming is more than disrespect. It’s an insult to this community and to me, as I was also clear that any subsequent party boat activity needed to be discussed with me and my office. We need answers as to how these decisions were made and fast.”
Tony Giordano, founder of the popular Facebook page Sunset Parker, also objects to the move.
“We have had party boats using our pier for years,” he noted. “Complaints of after-party brawls, public urination and littering have been made regularly. But the most frustrating part of this is, if there is something bad associated with these boats that other communities don’t want them, why would the city merely shift them to Sunset Park instead of solving the problem?
“If we must take a negative, to help other communities, why can’t we get some benefits?” Giordano went on. “For example, Sunset Park residents have been asking for toilets on our fishing pier. And we have been asking for running water so that fishermen can rinse their hands and so we can have drinking water for our visitors, and wi-fi, and maybe a small rain shelter. If the city is going to earn money from these boats, and if these boats must come to Sunset, why can’t we benefit from some of that earned income?”
Other members of the page concurred.
“Sunset Parkers are going to have to step up and get those boats kicked out of Sunset Park or you know what to expect with these drunken party boats,” one wrote. “And there’s going to be boat operators who push the envelope and make it worse than it already is.”
“Dumped on once again,” said another member.
Last April, when it was announced that three of the boats would be relocated to Mill Basin, with other boats moving to BAT in fall of 2018, a representative of the Parks Department told this paper, “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. 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.”
BAT operates under the auspices of DockNYC, which, according to its website, “In partnership with NYCEDC operates and manages 11 waterfront sites as part of the city’s program to activate and better utilize these key assets.” While according to the DockNYC website, events of any kind and photo shoots are prohibited at BAT, the piers at the terminal can be used overnight recreation vessels, excursions, community events and more.