Abandoned vessels are among the biggest problems in New York City’s waterways, presenting multiple ecological, transportation and safety hazards.
Recognizing this, Councilman Mark Gjonaj stepped up to the plate and allocated $20,000 for the removal of three boats from Pelham Bay Park and another $10,000 for an additional City Island event in the coming weeks.
On Feb. 10, NYC Parks Chief of Waterfront and Marine Operations Nate Grove and Gjonaj teamed-up as the first of three vessels were taken from the shoreline.
“As the stewards of 160 miles of shoreline, more than 30% of the city’s total shoreline, we are acutely aware of the environmental and public safety hazards derelict abandoned vessels and other marine debris pose,” Grove said. “We are pleased to play a lead role in addressing these issues and appreciate the support of Council Member Gjonaj in this effort here today.”
Grove told the Bronx Times that finding abandoned boats on waterways is quite common. In fact, during the past five years the Parks Department has done 350 vessel removals.
According to Grove, the boats have been in Pelham Bay for six months, but unlike cars, it is much more difficult and costly to haul them away. He noted the city will go after people for fines, but typically the person that left the boat cannot afford it.
“We’re 520 miles of shoreline, these issues are citywide,” he stressed. “Don’t do this. Call 311 if you’re struggling with your boat.”
Gjonaj explained that he had known about the issue with the boats for a while and felt it was important to allocate the funds.
In an effort to prevent this from happening in the future, the lawmaker wants to require a surcharge to boat registrations and mandate forced insurance coverage on boats, so that companies can pay the expense of the boat removal.
“We come out and we try to enjoy the natural beauty here at Pelham Bay Park and to see a boat that has been derelict for years is not something you want to see,” Gjonaj said. “The health of our parks and shoreline are inextricably linked to the health of our community at large.”