2008-02-01 / Community

Dumped Derelict Barges In Bay,Fined By DEC

By Nicholas Briano

One of the Abandoned Barges that lie in Barbados Basin, where it has been left since September has resulted in hefty fines for those responsible. One of the Abandoned Barges that lie in Barbados Basin, where it has been left since September has resulted in hefty fines for those responsible. Two abandoned barges, laying low in the water of Barbados Basin in Arverne, have become a bone of contention between city officials, local environmentalists and the developers of Arverne By The Sea, a development firm that plans to build an upscale marina on that portion of the bay.

The owner of the barges was fined this week by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which issued a notice of violation to Pile Foundation Construction, Inc. for allegedly abandoning the two barges last fall. Under New York State's Tidal Wetlands Act, the company faces up to $10,000 a day in penalties while the barges remain in place.

According to eyewitness accounts, the barges were abandoned at the end of September. DEC launched an investigation into the incident shortly thereafter. With the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, DEC identified the responsible party as Pile Foundation Construction, Inc., a company that specializes in marine construction throughout the New York City Metropolitan Area.

Upon hearing the news, Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska said that he was elated that the DEC took all the necessary steps to improve the conditions in Barbados Basin.

"Those Barges were left there a while ago," Gaska said. "It is good that they found who the owner was and hopefully it can be removed as soon as possible."

Since abandoned, the barges have taken on water and become derelict. Both are currently resting on the basin bottom and represent potential dangers to navigation.

As this enforcement action proceeds, DEC will direct the company to develop and implement a removal plan that minimizes the possibility of further damage to the sensitive ecosystems of the basin.

Local environmentalist and Community Board 14 member, Dan Mundy says it was the locals who sparked the investigation and put the pressure on the state to clean Barbados Basin.

"It was locals who found out about this and reported it," Mundy said.

"We reported it for months and the DEC finally did something about it," he continued.

In addition to navigation concerns and damage to the precious ecosystem surrounding the peninsula, the presence of the barges could have also derailed a proposed plan by the Arverne By The Sea developers to build a new marina on Beach 80 Street, which officials believe will draw residents to the new community.

The proposed marina, currently under the city selection and approval process, would be built by Benjamin/ Beachwood LLC, who had their project design approved by Community Board 14 in October.

However, recent discussions by the board's Land Use Committee have resulted in a new proposed site at the former Edgemere landfill on Beach 50 Street that some believe would provide better amenities and services to the community than the already planned site next to Barbados Basin.

The Beach 80 Street proposal would include a multi-story building, with restaurants, retail space, and a catering hall for large events. There will also be a boat ramp for small manpowered vessels such as canoes and kayaks.

A number of Community Board 14 members voiced the opinion that any marina built in Rockaway should include facilities for launching larger power boats. "We just want it to be done right," Gaska said. "We are in favor of the Barbados Basin site, but we think we also need to develop the Edgemere site because it would be capable of handling large boats."

"Edgemere has the potential to service larger boats over 25 feet in length," Gaska continued. "The Barbados Basin marina is nice but would be more of an oceanfront restaurant design."

Work on the Beach 80 site is planned to begin by the summer of 2008, according to a New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) spokesperson. The EDC also believes the work can be completed in time for the facility to be open in the summer of 2009, if plans aren't derailed or the site for the planned marina is moved further eastward on the peninsula.

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