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Residents and Officials Fight to Keep Storm-Damaged Marina Open

By Nicholas Rizzi | January 8, 2013 6:04pm

BAY TERRACE — Residents have banded together with elected officials to fight the closing of the storm-damaged Nicholl's Great Kills Park Marina.

The Bay Terrace marina’s docks and boats suffered significant damage due to Superstorm Sandy, but the National Parks Service has refused to renew the lease to allow the operators to rebuild.

Sen. Charles Schumer and Congressman Michael Grimm were on hand at a rally Tuesday afternoon at the harbor to call on the Parks Service to keep the marina open.

“Nothing is happening here and that’s because the parks service has not allowed any action to occur,” Schumer said. “The amount of damage is done here is much less than you think when you have the perfect storm. There’s still a lot left that the Parks Service can build on.

“[National Parks Service] needs to maintain this area. One way or another, they better make sure that this marina stays open, plain and simple.”

Schumer said he spoke with the director of the Parks Service, Jonathan Jarvis, who said he would examine the marina and possibly keep it open.

The Great Kills Marina has 350 boats, many of which were damaged by Sandy. Mariners of the Future, which runs the marina, had an estimated of $2 million in damage, but Parks Service has let their lease expire on Dec. 31, Schumer said.

Schumer added that the Parks Service already has the money to rebuild the marina, and they just need to renew the lease so they can get started.

“The money is there,” he said. “They don’t need the money, they got the money, we just need the green light.”

Fred DeLise, 55, of Bay Terrace, who helped organize the Save the Great Kills Park Marina group, said that the place is a piece of Staten Island history.

“It’s a piece of Staten Island history that’s going to be gone,” he said. “We just need it to be stopped. We need to keep Staten Island the jewel that it is.”

DeLise said the mariner’s operators told boat owners the Parks Service wanted to close the marina at the end of the year because it could not rebuilt, and a group banded together to reach out to local officials to keep it open.

“For them just to level this place and start over and spend 10 million dollars of tax payers money, it just doesn’t make sense,” he said. “This could be done one, two, three.”

The National Parks Service did not immediately respond to requests for comments on this story.

Grimm, who called the marina the working man’s dock, said that the marina needed to be saved for future borough residents.

“For us not to allow future generations to have those same types of memories with their future children is unacceptable,” he said. “We’re going to get this done.”

For some residents, the long standing dock is more than just a place to park their boats, but an integral part of their community.

Alice Ludwig, 55, who was born and raised in the neighborhood and grew up spending time in the marina, said when residents heard about the possible closing they sprang to action.

“We weren’t going to stand for it,” she said. “That’s why we all got together and started this ruckus.”