Trying to stop the party before it starts, Community Board 7 has balked at giving a liquor license to a party boat that wants to dock at Pier 4 at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.
The board was nearly unanimous in opposing the liquor license for the Sherryll Princess at its April 17 monthly meeting. One member abstained while all others present voted in opposition.
Two days beforehand, the vessel’s captain Pete Guoba, and representative Rosa Ruiz, appeared before CB 7’s Public Safety Committee explaining that, “The Sheryll Princess would offer waterfront entertainment cruises on a vessel with a 428-passenger capacity,” as well as waterfront tours, according to committee Chair Samuel Sierra.
It was announced in late February that on May 1, the party boats that have roiled Sheepshead Bay would no longer be able to pick up and unload passengers in that neighborhood; instead, the plan was to relocate them to other Brooklyn areas, including Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal.
While residents of Sheepshead Bay may be rejoicing, the announcement hasn’t gone over well in Sunset, where some residents fear party boats will bring rowdiness to the neighborhood, as well as possibly an increase in crime.
“If Sheepshead Bay doesn’t want them, why would we want them?” asked board member Pat Ruiz.
Sierra said that Rosa Ruiz — who said “she has known the captain of the Sherryll Princess for over 20 years and this is the type of entity that one would want in their community as a partner” — had told the committee that “issues regarding some vessels in Sheepshead Bay,” where the boat had previously docked, had prompted the planned relocation to Sunset Park.
Rosa Ruiz wasn’t the only person to speak well of the Sheryll Princess and her management. According to CB 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer, CB 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo vouched for the company, telling him “that this particular boat is the gold standard and if we are to have an excursion boat out here, that this is the one we want — her words — that they do work closely with the precinct, have a good security team. They actually report other boats if they are doing something illegal and they have cleaned up their pier in the past.”
Laufer said the boat is seeking the liquor license through the Sunset Park board “because they want Pier 4 to be their home port.
“If you’re a party boat, you don’t need to get a liquor license from the place you are mooring,” he noted, meaning that the Sheryll Princess as well as other party boats could still use Pier 4 but could not make it their home port without a liquor license connected to that specific pier.
Nonetheless, board members indicated that concern about crime remained an issue. “There has been somewhat of an increase in some crimes in the neighborhood,” said one board member, which [the precinct] seems to attribute to increasing entertainment in the neighborhood,” something, the board member added, that could be stoked by the party boats, “with hundreds of people exiting at the same time. I would like to see if the precinct has any idea of how to manage these crowds coming off the boats.”
That, said Laufer, is done by pulling a sergeant and eight police officers from other parts of the precinct. “This not folks doing overtime, this is not additional resources from the city,” Laufer stressed. “They have to be pulled from other parts of the community.”
The boat itself provides a certain amount of security, said Sierra. “[Guoba] claims that they never go over 400 in capacity and have a security ratio of one security personnel for every 50 passengers,” Sierra said. “They would also handle boarding on and off the vessel and in addition assure the cleanliness post event.”
The community board’s vote is advisory only; the State Liquor Authority will ultimately decide whether or not to grant the Sheryll Princess a liquor license.