Not in my boatyard!
Mill Basin residents are livid at the city’s plan to move three of the infamous Sheepshead Bay “booze cruise” boats to a pier in their neighborhood without seeking their input or even giving them notice.
“Not one iota of courtesy was given to let the community board or community know,” said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Mill Basin). “I understand the need to solve problems, but that doesn’t mean screw another community.”
On April 24, two Sheepshead Bay politicians and long-time party boat critics, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay) and Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay), announced that the boats would leave the Emmons Avenue pier in two stages, in May and September.
The three boats vacating in May will dock at Mill Basin off of Flatbush Avenue, according to a Parks Department spokeswoman.
Residents of Sheepshead Bay have complained for years that the party boats bring noise, parking issues, and drunken antics to their neighborhood, and Maisel and other Mill Basin politicians say they and their constituents were completely unaware that the city had decided to lay those quality-of-life problems on their doorstep.
“Unbeknownst to the residents of Marine Park, Mill Basin and the Rockaways, the ‘Party Boats’ with their intoxicated and rambunctious revelers were moved to the Mill Basin area,” said Assemblywoman Jaime Williams (D–Mill Basin) in a press release that called the move a “surprise attack,” and noted that there were no public hearings or notices before the announcement. “The quiet inlet off of Jamaica Bay will no longer be so quiet.”
Similarly, Maisel said he and other civic leaders were never told that Mill Basin was an option for the boats.
“No one told me, the community board, or other elected officials,” he said.
The Parks Department and the mayor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Deutsch, who led efforts to move the boats, said he assumed the mayor’s office had informed the Mill Basin community of the plans before, and that he’d be open to helping find an alternate location.
“When I get called by the administration saying they’re going to move the boats, I’m under the assumption people were notified,” he said. “I have no problem working with them to find a better solution.”
The Mill Island Civic Association’s scheduled April 26 meeting was cancelled, according to an employee at its host location Sunrise at Mill Basin, an assisted living facility. Maisel said the meeting was cancelled because the venue is not set up to handle the large number of anti-boat protesters that were expected to attend to complain about the city’s action.
“Where are they gonna park,” said Marine Parker Louise Quinlan. “People will come from all over. We already have so many break-ins.”
Maisel, Williams and other community leaders have planned a protest at Nick’s Lobster House along the basin on April 29 to voice their anger at the boats.
Maisel also said the community will pursue legal action against the decision, but did not immediately provide details.
Mill Basinites weren’t the only ones up in arms over the boats. In September, the remaining Sheepshead Bay party boast will move to the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, and the district manager of the local community board said his community was blindsided by the announcement as well.
“It fits the pattern of this administration making decisions and not informing the community,” said Jeremy Laufer of Community Board 7. “We were not consulted beforehand that the administration had these grand plans.”
Laufer echoed the concerns of Mill Basin about the quality-of-life problems the notorious booze cruisers could bring to Sunset Park.
“We haven’t seen anything done to clear up the problems in Sheepshead Bay, they’re simply moving the boats to other neighborhoods,” he said. “We’re very concerned about public drunkenness and drunk driving.”
The councilman for Sunset Park said he was not consulted by the city either, and blasted the city for dumping another neighborhood’s problems on his constituents.
“I’m offended that the administration is trying to relocate obnoxious business activities without publicly consulting elected officials, community boards and residents,” said Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park). “Neither Sunset Park nor any neighborhood should be used as a convenient dumping ground for a problem that should have been solved long ago.”
More than 150 people showed up to a protest on April 29 at Nick’s Lobster House — a seafood restaurant along the waterfront off of Flatbush Avenue, where the boats are supposed to be heading this month.
The protesters held signs reading “This Won’t Float in This Town,” and “No Booze Cruise Welcome” at the event, and complained that the city was just dumping another neighborhood’s problem on them.
“I don’t know how they can say it’s definitely not permissible in one neighborhood, but okay in an other,” said Mill Basinite Bill DeStefano.
DeStefano says he has no clue where big boats like those in question will go in Mill Basin, and that the area is actually a worse place for them than Sheepshead Bay.
“In Sheepshead Bay you can get right to the ocean,” said DeStefano. “You don’t have people on small boats or leisure crafts. This is more common in Mill Basin.”
The city has not confirmed an exact location where the boats will dock, and the nearby Kings Plaza Marina, where many small craft are moored, did not respond to a request for comment.
One Bergen Beach protester agrees that the area isn’t suited for large party boats.
“The Mill Basin waterways aren’t made for these type of boats,” said Joe Dai. “The channel isn’t wide enough, and there’s no adequate dockage, bathroom facilities or parking.”
Dai says he is happy with the large turnout at the protest, and is confident the city will back down given all the outrage.
“We’re not gonna stop,” he said. “This isn’t the right place for them.”