Is the Battle for North Cove Marina Over?

courtesy NY Harbor Sailing Foundation“BPCA just told Fortenbaugh that there would be no extension on the lease and he needs to leave to make room for Farkas or Brookfield,” commented Camilla just now. I called the Manhattan Yacht Club to find out more. A skipper named Stephen said that at a meeting yesterday with the Battery Park City Authority, the club’s Michael Fortenbaugh was greeted coldly, then asked to pay for years of water bills (that they had neglected to ever give him before) and return sets of keys. Clearly, not a good sign.

That would leave Andrew Farkas, a crony of Governor Andrew Cuomo—a description of their cozy relationship is here (and remember, the BPCA reports to Cuomo)—and Brookfield Office Properties as the remaining two contenders. Stephen said that either way, there’s good reason to be concerned that whichever entity is in charge, the community-based programs (which are often about getting kids out on the water) will be ditched in favor of “more of an exclusive yacht club.”

And so, they’re organizing a rally for Monday at 6 p.m. on the south side of the North Cove Marina.

UPDATE: Downtown Post NYC got a much clearer explanation: “Michael Fortenbaugh, commodore of the North Cove Marina in Battery Park City, met with representatives of the Battery Park City Authority on Dec. 9 and was told that the BPCA will take control of the marina on Dec. 31. That’s the day when Fortenbaugh’s 10-year contract to manage the marina expires. The BPCA said that he could keep one boat in the marina but should remove everything else.”

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  1. wow. Unbelievable.

  2. If what is written above is true I believe it’s a sad and sorry story. For NCMM and the wonderful programs that exist and began under Michael Fortenbaugh’s prescient use of the marina to be removed and replaced by a luxury marina is another nail in the coffin of what used to be Manhattan. If true, then once again the rich will have ousted the remainder of the middle class. If anyone in BPCA or Brookfield has ever been to a yacht club they would know they are all about dining and social events. Hardly a boat ever moves. And to bring in more yachts than have been there under NCMM is not an answer to anything. It’s a kick in the butt to Michael, the teachers, the employees, those who’ve learned to sail and furthered their skills, the kids programs, the public, and residents of BPC. A vibrant public facility and community is being kicked out for what will be a dead boat basin.

  3. As if there was ever any doubt that the man who built up the Marina and who has the best interest of the community ever had a chance. I still think the recusal of the board member is suspect. Her vote should have been allowed or else she should recuse herself from the board and no BPC resident should be allowed to sit on the board at anytime.

  4. The board member that recused herself from the voting didn’t do it just because she lived in the area. Her reasons were that “she is a member of Forenbaugh’s sailing club, has a boat in the marina, and had contributed to his foundation”.

  5. Forgot to add.. that quote is from another website.

  6. well that recusal underscores the point of having a resident on the board. That marina is a community asset that is used by members of the community. Honestly you would be hard pressed to find someone who is willing to serve on such a board who has not been involved in the marina is some fashion. Who has not taken a ride on the Toot or enjoyed the holiday train show on the boat, or taken a class at the sailing school?
    There is no transparency and again only lip service given to the community. What will Brookfield bring to the marina? What is their plan?
    Where are the politicians who can stand up to this? It is sad and sickening. Its like the residents are a complete joke despite the fact that our ground rents pay for the salaries of those useless BPCA members. Disgusted.

  7. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

    The hysteria about North Cove is starting to get a bit ridiculous, talking of small-boat sailing being shoved out by 150-foot mega-yachts with four crew and owners sipping champagne. There is not a SINGLE person, club member or otherwise, who yet knows what the plans are for the marina in 2015. All these parades-of-the-horribles are nothing more than idle and irresponsible speculation.

    Calls for greater “transparency” and the suggestions that the RFP and bid processes have somehow been improper or rigged are equally ludicrous. Transparency comes with required disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). BPCA is not under and obligation to award the lease at all to ANY of the bidders, but if and when it does so, its ratings of those proposals will in all likelihood be subject to FOIL as well.

    Calls to “Save North Cove” strike me as disingenuous. I think what most “protesters” mean is “save MY sweet gig.” Don’t get me wrong, I think a large sailing school and club at the marina are GREAT. And perhaps the next marina management will think it’s a great idea as well! After all the lease requires that a sailing school of comparable size remain at the site. But everyone should stop speculating and wait to see what happens. Calls to halt the process are essentially asking the BPCA to unlawfully deviate from its legally mandated procedures for evaluating competing proposals. How could that possibly be defensible?

    Equally disingenuous is that, all of a sudden, it’s “about the KIDS”? Oh, that is rich. Come on, for the vast majority of “protesters”, it’s about racing and exclusive privileges to sip cocktails on the MSC Yacht Arabella. It’s about excursions on a luxury motor vessel, Blue Pearl, and unthinkably easy and affordable access to a fleet of sailboats. If it were truly “about the kids”, don’t you think that more than ONE SINGLE scholarship would have been awarded to a needy kid in the entire history of Project City Kids?

    Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely hope that my friends with MSC continue to be able to sail from North Cove. I don’t want to see ANYONE lose sailing privileges that they now enjoy. But, in my opinion, it is arrogant, selfish, and presumptuous to suggest that sailing in lower Manhattan as we know it will end if one individual does not retain unchecked (and NON-transparent) authority to manage the marina, primarily to line his own pockets. It is arrogant as well to believe that only MSC can operate a sailing school and club, or that it has somehow cornered the market on providing access to the water for kids. If it’s really about the kinds, why not form a group, start a FB page, circulate petitions, and create a website whose goal is to get the kids of non-privileged New Yorkers on the water?

    If you haven’t seen the proposals submitted to BPCA, much less know who won the lease, you have no earthly idea what might be in store for North Cove, whether it will be safer, more accessible, whether it’s infrastructure or electrical system will be improved, or whether more than a single child whose parents lack the means to send him or her to sailing camp will benefit from potential management changes. (For heaven’s sake, the kids’ programs for paying families isn’t even based in North Cove!)

    If you think your sailing opportunities might be diminished, by all means, speak your mind and try to change that. If you think the selection process is unfair, use the proper channels to find out. But don’t disingenuously reframe your own selfish desires (and believe me, I share those same selfish desires) as trying to eliminate alleged sketchy government bureaucracy, foster transparency, or as being “about the kids.”

    These opinions are my own. I do not align myself with any other organization, individual, former member or employee or anyone else. I am a passionate sailor who shares the desire to get on the water, but not by making unfounded accusations of impropriety or trying to undermine lawful procedure. If the process was flawed, we’ll know soon enough. Hysteria and wild speculation will only impede rational investigation and reasoned analysis.

    • If you have any questions with regard to the ethics(or lack thereof) and/or corruption i suggest you take a look a the the BPCA annual budget for the past few years. You can get a copy via FOIL. No need to be an accountant or finance expert to get the gist of it. All is pretty clear in that spreadsheet.

    • Figures Janice , figures

  8. Janice, we are both part of the vibrant sailing community here in Manhattan (and Jersey City, Hoboken, Brooklyn, etc.). We all enjoy the freedom and accessibility of sailing on NY Harbor. This Tribeca Citizen article, other published articles and discussion threads regarding this matter provide perspective which helps me form an opinion. Given that there hasn’t been a public bid opening, I sense that many of the people’s concerns are valid, and I feel compelled to inquire into the handling of the award process for North Cove Marina.

    Therefore, I myself will attend the rally tonight (Monday 12/15 at 6pm at North Cove) and I call on others to do so. I have joined committee and signed the petition in the hope of getting more information.
    We are entitled to ask these questions and to express our concerns if we want to, and my choice is to not just sit back and take it.

    • Glen, thanks for that clarification. What upsets me the most about the process is that Manhattan Yacht Club wasn’t even notified by the BPCA that there as an RFP out for bid.

      Mike was told by a third party after the info was made public. I find that fact alone, very disturbing. The BPCA has the right to change managers, but at least have the decency to tell someone (Fortenbaugh) who has had the lease for 10 years and done a lot for BPC community that there is an RFP out and he can participate if he so chooses.

  9. North Cove Marina is a great community resource

    The Manhattan Sailing Club runs community focused sailing programs , an adult sailing school and children’s sailing camp .
    The kids have an amazing chance to do something very special in NYC during the summer , sail the harbor in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ——– wonderful

  10. I do not sail and have no kids but there is more to this issue than that. It’s about allowing successful small businesses to exist without being displaced by a corrupt government process.

    >>you have no earthly idea what might be in store for North Cove
    –But many of us have a long history with Brookfield, most of it unpleasant. There was the disruptive West Street tunnel that they wanted; their plans to turn the oval lawn into a trading floor, the marina into a Cirque du Soleil tent, and the staircase into an escalator bank; and the “coming in 2013” renovations that have no end in sight. And if you think that the community will ever get any of the public seating under the trees back, I’m betting that is all going to be turned into restaurant space if the renovations ever get done.

    >>sailing in lower Manhattan as we know it will end if one individual does not retain unchecked (and NON-transparent) authority to manage the marina, primarily to line his own pockets.
    –This is a cheap shot. Brookfield wouldn’t use it to line its pockets? Presumably anyone who gets the contract will make money from it; it’s called earning a living.

    >>But everyone should stop speculating and wait to see what happens.
    See above. We have seen what Brookfield has proposed in the past and have good reason not to want them involved.

  11. Michael runs a very profitable “yacht club” , but runs a terrible marina. No security as to save his profit has left many yachts robbed this year. While the yacht pays a high rate to Michael. He has a personal yacht in the marina which he pays no dockage for and a large sail boat he keeps as a club house where he runs a cash bar from. He also owns the tenders and pays no dockage for those that take people to his second bar the William wall which floats out near the statute. He has had a monopoly and tricked the battery park residents into thinking it was for the community, while he gets rich.

    • He should make money, he runs a business not a philanthropic organization. We don’t need another high security hub here to protect yachts. We should be looking at a range of vendors not just those Cuomo has hand picked.

    • They should just share the details of the RFP and the criteria by which they intend to make a decision. If they do that, then on some level regardless of the vote, it would be clear who “won” based on their submission.

  12. Perhaps, i should have posted here….

    Good point Eric. Why are the politicians being so quiet? Also, i attended the rally last night along with close to 300 other people from BPC supporting the local operator, Mike Fortenbaugh.

    Where were the superstars from Community board 1 BPC Committee on this issue???? Clearly with 300 people supporting, i think that qualifies as community support. Why did CB1 chose NOT to represent the community on this issue???

    Why did Community Board 1 BPC only suggest, “giving a resolution which states they don’t support anyone in the RFP?” That was Anthony Notaro’s brilliant idea — and he was serious. I thought he was joking, but alas, he was serious.

  13. They are not going to go against Cuomo. The law dictates the RFP and it has to go through the process. The Board vote will dictate. My issue is with the vote being left to only a couple of people. There are two empty seats and one Board member was forced to recuse herself, which still makes no sense to me, which means that this decision is being made by such a limited number and it seems really shady.

  14. Looking worse for Michael Fortenbaugh at the North Cove Marina. BPCA posted security in front of marina to make sure he doesn’t enter the premises and on the same day the BPCA hired a new Director of Marina Operations.

  15. It’s wonderful to see hundreds of supporters come out in force to advocate for community sailing .
    Sailors and non-sailors , adults and children , plus the political backing of our elected officials . ALL for these sailing programs

    Positive energy for NYC