What is happening to North Cove Marina?
Published on December 11th, 2014
Amid the Manhattan borough of New York City is North Cove Marina, located at the doorstep of the 9/11 Memorial and financial business district. The harbor has been an integral part of the area, and an integral part of the harbor has been Michael Fortenbaugh.
Mr. Fortenbauh has managed North Cove Marina for the last ten years, during which time he has created a sailing club with more than 900 members, a sailing school, a summer camp (with separate instruction programs for young children and teenagers), and a foundation that seeks to introduce underprivileged youth to sailing.
Additionally, Mr. Fortenbaugh has been a supporter of (and has hosted events for) local public-service groups, like the parent-teacher associations of several Lower Manhattan public schools, Battery Park City Cares (a local charity group), the Battery Park City Block Party, and the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association. He also led a grassroots, community campaign to stop a Port Authority plan that would have turned North Cove into a ferry terminal.
And in thanks for his hard work, the City is getting ready to take it all away. A committee of more than 80 of Mr. Fortenbaugh’s supporters have launched a website, SaveNorthCove.com, which details their concerns.
Mr. Fortenbaugh has been told by the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) that he must surrender control of the facility as of December 31. The Authority has offered Mr. Fortenbaugh a short-term lease that will allow him to keep some boats and other equipment there for an additional 60 days, while the BPCA determines who will be awarded the contract to manage the facility for the next decade.
Mr. Fortenbaugh is among a slate of bidders competing for the new contract. Other entrants are believed to include Brookfield Properties (the owner of Brookfield Place, the giant office and retail complex located alongside North Cove) and Andrew Farkas, a billionaire real estate developer who was among the largest fundraisers in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent campaign for reelection.
The BPCA was originally expected to announce a decision on these bids at its December board meeting. But the plan was delayed when the absence of one board member (chairman Dennis Mehiel) and the recusal of another (Martha Gallo, the only member of the Authority’s board who lives in Battery Park City) left the panel without the quorum necessary to proceed.
Here is a statement from the Authority:
“The current contract on the North Cove Marina expires on December 31, 2014. Because there is no extension provision in the contract, we have proposed an interim measure. BPCA will assume operation of the marina, including all maintenance and insurance costs, on January 1, 2015. To provide for continued operation of the Manhattan Sailing School and Yacht Club until there is a Board decision on the RFP, BPCA has offered a 60 day lease,” to Mr. Fortenbaugh’s company, “at a substantially discounted per-foot rate for any boats,” that are docked there. The BPCA has also offered to let the floating classroom used by the Manhattan Sailing School remain in the Marina at no cost during this period. “Our Board is expected to vote on the ten-year contract for a marina operator at its January meeting.”
Mr. Fortenbaugh, who has built a widely lauded record of community service, leadership, and activism during his tenure at North Cove Marina, is planning a rally for Monday (December 15) at 6:00 pm, alongside North Cove Marina. “We have two goals,” Mr. Fortenbaugh says. “First, we’re going to mobilize supporters who believe we are the best answer for this community, and who want to make their voices heard. Second, we want to bring real community input to this process, with transparency and accountability.”
About the BPCA’s offer of a short-term lease, Mr. Fortenbaugh said, “We’re less concerned about January 1 than we are about the next ten years. Right now is when we, or any other prospective operator of this marina, need to be planning for the programs that will take place there, starting May 1.”
Among the programs Mr. Fortenbaugh has created during his time at the helm of North Cove are a sailing club with more than 900 members, a sailing school, a summer camp (with separate instruction programs for young children and teenagers), and a foundation that seeks to introduce underprivileged youth to sailing. Additionally, Mr. Fortenbaugh has been a supporter of (and has hosted events for) local public-service groups, like the parent-teacher associations of several Lower Manhattan public schools, Battery Park City Cares (a local charity group), the Battery Park City Block Party, and the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association. He also led a grassroots, community campaign to stop a Port Authority plan that would have turned North Cove into a ferry terminal.
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in response to recent developments, “It is essential that the Battery Park City Authority make sure the same level of community-oriented programming is maintained at North Cove Marina in the future. Our Battery Park City community has enjoyed the valuable programs offered at the marina for many years, including the Manhattan Sailing School. This marina has been run for years successfully and to the benefit of the neighborhood by Michael Fortenbaugh, a Battery Park City resident.”
A spokesman for City Council member Margaret Chin, “Mr. Fortenbaugh has done a fantastic job in his work at the marina,” and that Ms. Chin, “is very concerned about the possibility of the marina being operated by any entity that does not have a strong background in affordable, community-based programming.”
Source: Matthew Fenton
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