By Phil Corso
It will take more than a prayer to keep the Bayside Marina afloat, the owners said.
The annual blessing of the fleet was held recently at the northeast Queens marina, marking the beginning of another summer season on the open water. But this year, the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy left the Bayside Marina crew working harder than ever to open on time with repairs still weighing heavily on the owners’ checkbooks.
“It’s basically like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound,” Bayside Marina President Martin Munch said. “Thank God it’s been holding for now, but there are still other issues.”
Munch said the Bayside Marina took a beating when Sandy smashed its way through Queens. Electrical wiring was demolished with more than $75,000 sustained in damages, one building’s roof caved in, another building lost a chunk of its exterior wall and some parts of the docks were left in shambles, which cost more than $35,000 to fix.
“We are operational, but we did need to spend a lot out of pocket to get there,” Munch said of the marina, which can accommodate 130 boats and currently has about 120 crafts. “It depends on what other stuff fails. If our electrical service decides to stop, we’re basically done.”
The marina’s holding tank for boats’ waste water was also damaged and has been filling up quicker than in the past because of what Munch said might be a broken pipe underground. The docks also were the target of the storm’s wrath, he said, as the high tides left parts of the structure at Mother Nature’s mercy, which nearly floated away.
Insurance covered some of the damage, but the marina crew of about 10 workers still spent the entire winter making repairs to meet the May 1 deadline for the start of the season with little to no help, Munch said. According to the Marina president, he and his crew shelled out more than $100,000 of their own money to get the facility operational and they are still battling for any funding they can get.
“We have been breaking our backs to get this place open,” Munch said. “This is a lot of people’s enjoyment. It’s a fine line between what you can and can’t do.”
After the storm, the marina put in funding requests with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but the owners were denied because the facility is considered a city Parks Department concession. Munch said Parks has been working with them to find money for repairs, but the returns have been sparse.
“We have had some help, but the work is still ongoing,” said Munch, who pointed out that the dock structure is still in need of repairs.
“We have it put together and it is safe,” he said. “But in all honesty, if we get hit with another good storm, there is nothing to say that it’s not going to break apart.”
Parks holds the license agreement on the Bayside Marina, but Munch and his team manage the facility while also working at full-time jobs elsewhere. The arrangement was why Munch said funding has been hard to come by for the northeast Queens gem, which Munch said pre-dates the construction of the Cross Island Parkway. A winter storm wiped out the marina in 1992 and after it was rebuilt, the facility opened in his current form in 1994, Munch said.
Slips are rented to boat owners who hail from throughout Queens and Long Island and use their crafts for fishing, waterskiing, sailing and even just plain old relaxing, Munch said. The marina also rents out four 14-foot Carolina Skiffs, small boats with motors. Each year the facility hosts a Snapper Derby where children compete in catching the most fish. This year’s event is scheduled for Aug. 24.
“It’s a labor of love for all of us. It isn’t what everybody thinks,” Munch said. “We are trying to work with Parks, but their hands are tied to a certain point.”
Storms have only become more severe over the years, and Munch said he was well aware of the future risks at the Bayside Marina. But for now, he said, they were fully operational and ready for the season.
“This year we’ll keep our fingers crossed,” he said. “You hope for the best. But at the end of the day, it’s all up to Mother Nature.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.