CI’s ‘Worm Bar’ falls to recession

After a 125-year history, Rosenberger’s Boat Livery will shut down for good. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

One of the last places to go, where for $50 you could rent a boat and enjoy a day of fishing, has closed for good, a victim of the recession and changing tastes.

Rosenberger’s Boat Livery, operating out of 663 City Island Avenue at the corner of Bridge Street for the past 125 years, was most recently run by islander John Persteins and a partner for the past 15 years or so.

The “Worm Bar,” as many City Islanders call it, was located next to the rental yard in the boathouse on Bridge Street. According to sources, it sold both beer and bait. Now with Rosenberger’s in receivership, many are speculating about what will become of the waterfront property, including the boathouse, adjacent to the City Island Bridge.

“The property is for sale,” said City Island realtor Jackie Kyle Kall, of Port of Kall Realty. “It is worth $1.2 million.”

According to Kall, the property is prime for recreational uses, and she said it could even be a public park if the city decided to upgrade the area. The Department of Finance lists the boathouse as a storage facility for tax purposes.

Roughly half of the boat livery yard is leased by the city, and the other half is owned by Persteins, Kall said.

The past few years has seen tumultuous times for the boathouse containing the bait shop. In 1998, the building was damaged by fire. It was alleged that an illegal S.R.O. was being operated from the site at that time.

City Island Civic Association president Bill Stanton said that he hoped whatever was in store for the future of the site, that it added something positive to the island.

“I just hope that it is not sold to someone looking to put 1,000 units of housing on it,” Stanton said.

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