Excitement in the town boardroom
Islip Town Hall

File photo

Excitement in the town boardroom

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
5/26/2016


ISLIP TOWN—Residents packed the Islip Town Board Meeting Tuesday afternoon, and many of them came forward to voice their displeasure with a new online reservation system implemented for the upcoming boating season at the Islip Town-owned Atlantique Marina on Fire Island. Later on, the board appointed a new commissioner of aviation and transportation.

In the new system, which is set to begin on June 1, a limited number of Atlantique’s 157 total slips will be made available for online booking on a first-come first-serve basis by Islip Town residents only. The marina layout itself has not changed and will remain the same as in previous years, with A (15’ or wider), B, (11’ to 14’) and C (less than 11’) size slips available to the public. Of the 29 total A slips, a maximum of nine will be available for online seasonal and weekly booking at a rate of $6,000 for the entire season, $435 per week. Of the 91 total B slips, a maximum of 20 slips will be made available for weekly online booking at a rate of $350 per week. Meanwhile, there will be no changes with C slips, which are not available for online reservations. The new rates also include electric fees. Non-residents or daily trippers can only utilize the marina on a first-come, first-serve basis for a maximum of 12 days as in the past.

Most of the nearly 70 residents who came forward to speak during the public portion of the meeting voiced complaints about the new system, which they said was implemented without feedback or awareness by the general public. They stated that by creating such a system, the town is essentially privatizing portions of a public park and taking everyone’s equal right to each available space.

“I love the town and I love the marina, and I think you guys are privatizing it,” said Islip resident John Duff. “I think you should rethink the whole thing. It works great as it is. Why fix something that’s not broken?”

“Shame on you on [offering this] to the privileged few,” said Oakdale resident Richard Hill. “One of the best things about Islip is Atlantique, and you’re ruining it.”

“It’s a public marina, and everyone should have an equal chance of getting in,” said East Islip resident Lawrence Novak. “People can now pay for a prime spot and essentially have a summer home on Fire Island. The marina should be open to everybody, not just a few people.”

Residents were also worried about the idea of seasonal renters leaving unattended boats at the marina, which could cause a safety hazard if boats are not tied down properly—particularly during windy weather—or if there is no one around to address potential electrical issues. Most were also upset that these changes had been implemented without prior notification or transparency.

“This breaks my heart,” said Margaret Maloney. “Atlantique is a place…we can go and truly escape. The most important issue is with unattended boats, which can be very dangerous…It’s so sad that you’re seeing a side of us like this, but it’s only because you’ve taken something away.”

“There has to be trust between the constituents and the board,” said Diane Segeski. “We feel betrayed and we feel like we have not been kept in the loop. Without the public being made aware of this, how can you expect to have anything other than this kind of response?”

Since the changes did not require a public vote, the public’s comments had no immediate impact on the system. However, Councilwomen Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and Mary Kate Mullen voiced their own dissatisfaction with the new system.

During the regular business portion of the meeting, the board voted 3-2 (with Bergin Weichbrodt and Mullen voting no) to appoint Shelley LaRose-Arken as the new commissioner of aviation and transportation. LaRose-Arken, who is set to replace former Commissioner Rob Schneider, has been a manager and employee of the aviation industry for over 24 years. She served as assistant airport manager at Republic Airport from 1999-2006 and as airport manager of Republic since 2006.

“This is really a very exciting time,” said Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “Probably for the first time in a long time, we’re appointing a commissioner who has experience running an airport on a day-to-day basis.”

The next Islip Town Board Meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 7 at 2 p.m.

For more information on the new reservation system at Atlantique Marina, visit https://www.townofislip-ny.gov/news/news/3260-atlantique-2016-frequently-asked-questions-for-your-information.