Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn boaters say prime sailing area at risk

New marina in Brooklyn Bridge Park days from opening

April 26, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn boaters are getting a sinking feeling over a maritime company’s push to install a barge mooring in a plumb sailing area off Sunset Park – especially members of New York City’s newest marina, ONE15 Marina in Brooklyn Bridge Park, shown above. Photo by Mary Frost

Brooklyn boaters are up in arms over a maritime company’s push to install a barge mooring in New York Harbor close to the site of a new marina in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The New York State Marine Highway Transportation Company, based in Troy, New York, wants to install a commercial mooring in the shallow Bay Ridge Flats.

The Bay Ridge Flats stretch along the Sunset Park waterfront, starting off Red Hook at the northern end.

There are several moorings already installed in the flats. Timothy O’Brien, general manager of the soon-to-open ONE15 Brooklyn Marina at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, says, however, that the area is one of the few open spaces in the harbor with relatively little barge traffic and few moorings.

A moored barge would affect boaters’ ability to race in the harbor, O’Brien said. More than 100 sailors from the ONE15 Marina already race weekly in the flats. “It’s also a great place that is relatively calm to do instruction,” he added.

In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, charged with making the decision to allow the mooring, O’Brien wrote, “Bay Ridge Flats is one of few relatively open areas in proximity to our marina, and having this open area allows us to safely operate racing and instructional programming for those accessing our facility outside of the busiest sections of NY Harbor.  In this area, there is relatively little ferry traffic and relatively shallow water, which makes it an ideal location to preserve for recreational use with minimal impact to commercial traffic.”

A representative of the New York State Marine Highway Transportation Company (who wished to remain unnamed) told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday that the mooring would be just “one of many,” and would be a temporary anchorage, like others in the flats.

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The mooring, which consists of a 60-inch ball, chain and anchor, would moor a 195 by 35-foot barge.

“I have no idea why they’re so upset,” the representative said.

O’Brian told the Eagle that this mooring is different, however.

“This is especially problematic as these areas are zoned as anchorages, which are defined as vessels temporarily dropping anchor there. That is different from a private company installing a fixed, permanent mooring for their exclusive use,” he said.

“We also have noticed in the last day that there are two more permanent anchors that have already been installed since last October,” he added.

In a letter to Ronald Pinzon of the Army Corps of Engineers, O’Brien wrote, “We understand that this area is classified as an anchorage zone. We therefore understand that from time to time some vessels or barges may be anchored there, and we seek to share the harbor with the ongoing commercial operations which are so critical. We do not, however, believe that additional permanent, fixed moorings should be permitted in this zone as there are many existing locations where these zones could be expanded outside of the NY Harbor Upper Bay which would have far less impact on the public’s use of this limited space.”

A public notice from the Army Corps of Engineers says that the decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact of the mooring. The benefits will be balanced against “reasonably foreseen detriments,” the Corps says.

Factors taken under consideration include conservation, economics, environmental concerns, navigation, recreation, safety and “in general, the needs and welfare of the people.” A public comment period has ended.

ONE15 Brooklyn Marina is scheduled to open May 1. It will provide berthing for over 100 boats ranging in size from 16 feet to 250 feet in length, as well as hosting sailing lessons for the public.

The New York State Marine Highway Transportation Company has also applied to install moorings in Jamaica Bay and upstate. They have dropped their plans to request a mooring off Ellis Island, the company representative told the Eagle.

These boats are plying the shallow waters of the Bay Ridge Flats. Photo courtesy of ONE15 Brooklyn Marina

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