Help Safeguard Our Waterfront From Developers

What makes Sheepshead Bay special? It’s just not the number of sushi bars or gourmet delis. Need a hint? Think waterfront.

But is it good for anything other than a nice view from overpriced condos? Some people in Congress think so.

Introduced to Congress in May of 2009, Keep America’s Waterfronts Working (KAWW) Act of 2009 protects coastal area economies by securing indispensable funds for preserving and expanding waterfront access. As an amendment to the  Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, KAWW directs the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to establish a Working Waterfront Grant Program. The program allows states to request grants, through a regionally equitable, competitive funding process, to secure access for persons engaged in commercial fishing, recreational fishing, aquaculture, boatbuilding, or other water-dependent coastal-related business. It would also allow a non-profit group to obtain a grant to buy development rights in order to keep a working boatyard in business, rather than see it sold for residential development.

In short, KAWW will give give fuel to local governments around the nation to rethink their waterfront strategies.

Considering Sheepshead Bay’s special waterfront zoning, you would think this might be a hot topic around here. New York Post columnist Ken Moran recently wrote: “Even in this slow economy, developers eye waterfront parcels and water-dependent businesses such as marinas, boat yards, commercial fishing operations and boat builders, and turn them into high-end residential communities.”

Since the destruction of the Special Zoning District by the improper variance granted to the Loehmann’s mall, Sheepshead Bay has gone from eight bait and tackle shops to one! From three marine supply stores to none. From three local shipyards to service the Sheepshead Bay fishing fleet to none! The fishing fleet related jobs – from service, insurance, deck hands and crew members, supply businesses and on are mostly gone.

Maybe it’s too late for this area, although there are still some water related activities that struggle to survive. But unless the community desires to see an actual working waterfront, the future waterfront will be as sleepy as the Manhattan Beach bulkhead lining Sheepshead Bay.

KAWW is a means to protect what we have left, and perhaps reclaim some of what we have lost.

Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine introduced the bill co-sponsored by Capps, Calf.; Capuano, Mass.; Christensen, Virgin Islands; Connolly, Va.; Delahut, Mass.; Farr, Calif.; Filner, Calif.; Frank, Mass.; Hodes, N.H.; Inslee, Wash.; Kennedy, R.I.; Klein, Fla.; Kratovil, Md.; Langevin, R.I.; McGovern, Mass.; McIntyre, N.C.; Michaud, Maine; Moran, Va.; Thompson, Calif.; Tierney, Mass. and Wittman, Va.

At the present time, the bill remains in the Natural Resources Committee, awaiting some other legislation to which it could be attached or, although less likely, possibly moving ahead as a stand-alone bill. In any case, where does the New York delegation stand on this?

TAKE ACTION NOW!
Contact Congressman Anthony Weiner and ask him to support the Keep America’s Waterfront Working Act of 2009 and to help safeguard Sheepshead Bay’s waterfront for future generations!

Congressman Weiner
1800 Sheepshead Bay Rd.
Brooklyn, NY, 11235
718.743.0441
Click to e-mail

The above editorial was co-written by Bill Woodroffe and Steve Barrison. Woodroffe is the treasurer of Deep Creek Yacht Club and corresponding secretary of Bay Improvement Group. Barrison is the president of Bay Improvement Group.

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