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Hundreds Sign Petition to Save Downtown Marina Operator

By Irene Plagianos | December 15, 2014 3:00pm
 The North Cove Marina, operated for years by the Manhattan Yacht Club, may soon get a new operator.
The North Cove Marina, operated for years by the Manhattan Yacht Club, may soon get a new operator.
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North Cove Marina

BATTERY PARK CITY — Hundreds of residents are pushing to keep a longtime sailing club and school anchored in the North Cove Marina, amid fears that the Manhattan Yacht Club might be sunk in favor of a larger operator.

Nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition over the past three days, imploring the Battery Park City Authority and elected officials to keep the Manhattan Yacht Club, which has run the marina since 1994.

The Battery Park City Authority is currently reviewing bids from several other operators who want to take control of the marina, and community members worry that their wishes are not being considered.

"We're frustrated," said Battery Park City resident Tammy Meltzer, who signed the petition. "Why would you consider kicking out an operator that's been successful and that's helped make this community better? We feel like the BPCA is not taking the community into consideration."

In October, the BPCA put out a request for proposals for a new operator for North Cove Marina, which is home to many high-end yachts, as well as the Manhattan Sailing School.

Residents quickly voiced support for Michael Fortenbaugh, the longtime yacht club and sailing school's owner, as word spread that several larger companies were also vying to operate the prime waterfront space.

The BPCA had initially planned to vote on the new operator in early December, but the vote has been deferred to January. In the meantime, Fortenbaugh's 10-year lease will expire on Dec.31.

Fortenbaugh told DNAinfo New York that the BPCA has asked him to give up control of the marina in advance of the January vote, which he feels does not bode well for his chances.

“We’re deeply concerned about what will happen,” Fortenbaugh said. “We’re a small business, we’ve done the best job we can for the marina, and we think we have the support of the community — but it's not clear that’s been taken into account by the BPCA.”

The one local resident on the board of the BPCA, Martha Gallow, has recused herself from the vote on the new operator because she is a member of the Manhattan Yacht Club.

On Monday evening, the group Save North Cove, which launched the petition, will hold a rally in support of the yacht club at 6 p.m., on the south side of the Cove, next to Gateway Plaza.

The BPCA did not immediately return a request for comment.