MILL BASIN – Three big party boats are coming to the waters of Mill Basin, perhaps as soon as next week, and yet no one is quite sure where the booze cruise yachts will be moored.
Though the Sheepshead Bay community has been fighting for years to rid themselves of the party boats and the traffic snarls, parking and drunken revelers they bring with them, Mill Basin residents and elected officials were surprised to find out they’d be inheriting the issue.
Councilmember Alan Maisel (D-46), who represents Mill Basin, said he received a “very vague” email from the Mayor’s Office on Tuesday night, which stated that some boats would remain in Sheepshead Bay this summer, while three would be moving to Mill Basin—without specifying where.
According to Maisel, no one in Mill Basin received advance notice of the decision from the city. “Not myself, not the Community Board, not the Civic Associations, not the Senator, not the Assemblymember,” he said. “This is not the way you do business.”
A few possible locations have been in the air supply for the move, but no confirmation has come from either the Mayor’s Office or the NYC Parks Department. Some think the boats will be placed along Flatbush Avenue just north of Nick’s Lobster House, while others have heard they’ll moor along the Kings Plaza parking lots. Further down, by the Toys ‘R’ Us, is the Sea Traveler’s Marina, which some think is a possibility.
But guardrails and chainlink fences prevent access to the water from Flatbush Avenue. Maisel was in the area yesterday and doesn’t see how it would work on such short notice.
The Sea Traveler’s Marina advertises 300 slips for 16-50 ft. boats, but that won’t do – they boats that are coming are larger. The Amberjack V, a well-known boat on the Sheepshead Piers, is listed at 120 ft. in length.
No matter where the boats fit, concerns about the quality of life issues abound. Al B., a Mill Basin resident, lives directly across from the proposed Flatbush Avenue location, on National Drive. When he saw the news, he couldn’t believe it.
“It’s basically gonna be in my backyard,” he said. “I don’t know why you’re taking these boats from a mixed-use area with restaurants to a very residential area.”
Al worries about the noise from late-night booze cruises waking his kids, 4 and 6 years old, who sleep in rooms that face the canal where the boats would dock. “It’s gonna be noisy,” he said. “If the canal were bigger, I wouldn’t mind. But it’s really narrow—I could spit across it.”
Maisel also worries about the noise from the boats carrying across the water to the residential neighborhood. Not to mention the potential of arriving guests to snarl traffic on Flatbush as it leads to the Belt Parkway. Unless the boats do end up docking next to the Kings Plaza parking lot, adequate parking is going to be a serious issue as well.
And of course, there’s another precedent: Sheepshead Bay residents complained for years of the drunk revelers leaving the boats, especially after a huge brawl last summer on Emmons Avenue.
“They want them out of Sheepshead,” said Maisel of the revelers. “It’s not like they’re great citizens coming off these boats.”
While details are still being ironed out with the city as to the exact location of the boats, the NYC Parks department stated that “all of the boats are contractually obligated to follow noise restrictions, which include no loud music until they are away from residential areas.” If these rules aren’t followed, they said, docking privileges will be revoked.
The move of three boats to Mill Basin is only temporary, said Parks, while repairs are made to the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Those three, along with the four remaining in Sheepshead Bay, will end up in Sunset Park in September, at the end of the season.
“When they say ‘temporary,’ you have to be worried,” Maisel said. “The tolls on the bridges were supposed to be temporary 50 years ago.”
I wouldn’t go to the bank on anyone’s assurance that it’ll get done in time,” he said of the Brooklyn Army Terminal repairs, citing a tendency for contractors to default and New York City construction projects to take longer than anticipated.
Regardless, September is months away, and the boats are moving in May. Residents in Mill Basin have been calling everywhere they can, said Al, trying to see what can be done.
As for Councilmember Maisel, who has vowed to fight the change, information is in short supply. The Councilmember met with representative’s from the Mayor’s office on Wednesday, but he wasn’t able to get answers to most of his questions.
“Do we need an environmental study?” he wonders. He’s meeting with the Mayor’s Office again on Monday, but with the word that boats could be moving as soon as Tuesday, there’s not much time to do anything.
“We don’t know who made the decision,” said Maisel. “I saw the Mayor last week—maybe it wasn’t on his mind, but he didn’t say anything.”
By the time of publication, repeated phone calls and emails to the Mayor’s office for clarification or comment had not received a response.
For now, residents and elected officials have to wait and see what will happen as one neighborhood’s problem is pushed down the line.
“I don’t know why we’re being punished,” said Al.
His local Councilmember, Maisel, seemed to agree: “It’s very, very troubling that a community is being treated so shabbily,” he said.