Beached boats continue to burden waterfront nabes

As beached boats continue to fill the Bronx shoreline, with no one claiming responsibility, one elected official is in beginning to plan needed cleanup efforts. - Photo by Walter Pofeldt

Waterfront communities may soon find relief to remove the eyesores of abandoned and dilapidated boats that line the Bronx shoreline.

Edgewater Park co-op manager John Walker said it took him over a year to rid the local waterway of a sunken sailboat.

After contacting every known agency, from the U.S. Coast Guard to the NYPD’s Harbor Control, he said it was finally the Dockmasters, a company that contracts from the Department of Small Business Services, that finally provided the help needed.

“They were the most helpful agency,” he said about the recent two-day removal of the 30-foot sailboat by Dockmasters.

Walker said it was only after he sought the help of Councilman Jimmy Vacca that he learned of the company.

With only the mast and riggings protruding from the water, he added, “This junken boat had created a really dangerous situation.”

At one point a swimmer attached a pirate’s flag to the vessel, hoping to warn oncoming boaters, however, Walker worried the gesture would also invite inquisitive minds to ‘find the buried treasure’ – a recipe for disaster.

After numerous dive attempts, Walker said the Dockmasters were able to use airbags to float the boat to the surface.

Unfortunately, the vessel was no longer marked with identification, and subsequently by default, became Edgewater Park property.

Lucky enough to have workers and a truck on hand to help remedy the situation, Walker said he feels for the many shoreline property owners who fall victim to the numerous beached boats.

“Let’s take a homeowner on City Island,” he said. “He doesn’t have a maintenance crew. What’s he going to do with a beached boat?”

Walker said this was the fourth boat that’s washed up on the Edgewater Park shores over the past five years, and he knows it won’t be the last.

Recognizing the importance of alleviating this safety hazard as well as providing necessary relief to those confronted with the unexpected physical and financial obstacle of a beached boat, Vacca said he’s on board to provide support.

With advocates from City Island and Throggs Neck both complaining about the issue, Vacca recently began efforts to create a shoreline clean up.

“I’ve been reaching out to a multitude of agencies to make sure something is done about the dozens of derelict vessels creating a safety hazard,” he said.

Unfortunately, Vacca added no city, state or federal agency is willing to take responsibility for the maintenance of New York’s miles of shoreline.

“None of these agencies seem to understand the importance of this issue,” he commented. “But we are a waterfront community, and as the boating season begins, it’s very important to us that our shores be kept free of debris and other dangerous impediments.”

Vacca is currently working on legislation and other means of regulating boaters, organizing cleanups and seeking further support.

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