City Subsidizing Boater Parking

Parking fees for boaters at the 79th St. basin are $422 cheaper per month than rates at a nearby garage

The New York Times reports that the comptroller’s office is concerned about possible fraud at the Parks Department’s 79th Street Boat Basin. Buried in the piece is the small revelation that the Parks Department offers off-street car parking at far below market rates to boaters moored there.

According to the Times, 23 residents paid $66,250 for parking their cars at the basin in 2005 — an annual average cost of $2,880, or $240 a month. A block away, at 70 Riverside Drive, a private garage charges $662 a month.

Do the math and you find the city is charging $422 less a month per car than the nearby private garage. Multiply by 23 motorists, and you find a subsidy costing tax payers $116,472 a year in foregone revenue. Admittedly it is decimal dust in a $58 billion city budget. But it’s another example of how the money-strapped city is contradicting its own green goals, and short-changing tax payers by giving away public space for parking at low, low prices. Maybe that’s the real fraud.

Photo: Cresny/Flickr 

  • Jonathan

    And the city is in the marina business why?

  • anonymous

    The Parks Dept. oversees many concessions on its property. The revenues go into the general fund. In addition to revenue, the concessions are supposed to enhance the mission of the parks department – e.g., selling food in the parks, renting bicycles on the greenway, staging concerts in the park. Yankee Stadium is a concession (overwhelming and distorting its park mission IMO). NYC Parks have by tradition and law been non-commercial spaces, which has put some limitation on the city’s urge to milk them for maximum profit.
    I would say the marina and the restaurant at 79th St. provide amenities to the public. The parking does not.

  • Jonathan

    Anonymous, thanks for the clarification. I agree with you that the restaurant is an amenity, but I wouldn’t class the marina in the same way. There are no cruises or excursions that dock there, there is no ferry service to New Jersey, and there is AFAIK no place to put your own boat in the water there.

    The public kayaking programs don’t even use the marina; they’re further down, near 73rd St.

    Maybe it’s an amenity in a strict sense, but I doubt many of the millions of New Yorkers are enjoying the benefits.

  • curmudgeon

    Yeah, and Parks puts up 2 barricades at the gates to the Marina to slow down cyclists, because apparently Marina users can’t be bothered to swivel their heads to see if anything is coming before crossing the greenway. But the main effect of the barricades to create 2 bottlenecks where everyone is competing for a narrow space on the greenway.

  • Josh

    As someone who’s biked along the Greenway past the Marina a number of times, those barricades were probably a good idea. In retrospect I probably ride through that area (the part of the Greenway between, like, 72nd and 83rd Streets) faster than I should in view of the amount of pedestrian traffic in a narrow area. Conceptually, I think those barricades are a lot like traffic calming projects that are intended to slow down cars on narrow streets – inconvenient to those who are slowed down by them, but serve a valuable purpose. Sure, it’d be nice if everyone slowed down on their own where it was appropriate, but that’s not really realistic.

  • anonymous

    Well I have to admit I know people who own boats there. They’re not fat cats, but sailors who got it together to have a boat for a season or two. Visitors to New York can moor there. True, boating is not a sport for everyone but neither is skateboarding. Both can be enjoyed as a scenic activity. Olmsted’s revolutionary design for NYC parks was for all classes to mingle and serve as a spectacle for each other. (I suppose you also hate the carriages in Central Park, but I find them a quaint contribution. And the little rich kids with fancy boats on the lakes.) I realize this is an incendiary topic on the eve of an election.

    That said, if you would like to sail yourself, look into the Manhattan Sailing Club in lower Manhattan. For a reasonable membership, you get to sail the J-24s with novices and experts. And I’m sure you already know about the FREE kayaking programs all over the city now. They exist because of volunteers, of course.

  • john

    I have been to that parking lot – its underground and the ceiling drips calcium deposits on your car – which don’t come out – comparable parking what be pier sixty parking which costs roughly $300 month – cant really compare it to a full service garage.

  • Oder

    I guess a pitfall of blogging is you have to find something to natter about every day, however trifling.

  • rhubarbpie

    I think the marina is an amenity. I like riding past the boats — they are a welcome change from the NJ view in the distance and the brown, muddy (or whatever the heck that is in there) river. I see them as a reminder of Manhattan’s heritage, and wish there were more marinas, actually. I’m not kidding.

    If you ever get to Amsterdam and many river-side and sea-side cities, you’ll notice there’s much more and better use of the canals and waterways than here, which adds a lot to the feel of the city.

    And the boats docked at 79th Street are not the fanciest, so it’s clearly a bit of a lower-cost way of living in the city. Should there be lower-priced parking? Maybe not, but frankly this is 1,887th in the list of things I think we and the comptroller should be worrying about. Maybe he could look at the level of speeding enforcement on city streets sometime — which is something his staff could do and that I actually care about.

    By the way, I didn’t notice much of an outcry from Mr. Thompson with the giveaways to the Yankees, Mets and Nets, that’s for sure. Now those are the gifts that keep on giving, baby.

  • too bad the city waterfront doesn’t give more subsidized space to human power boats such as kayaks. 9 kayaks could fit into the space occupied by one car, that is just counting the cars height’s escapade would probably fit a dozen. the last advertised price for a kayak berth on the waterfront was 750 for a year. it is in a new boathouse, the building is modern and has good accommodation’s. there is very little kayak storage space available on the river, only two locations
    i wonder how subsided the power boat marinas are, not just 79 street but the one by chelsa piers.
    personally i think marina are a eyestore on the greenway they block the view, who want so st t on a park bench looking through the hundreds of slips, it is like looking through a tractor trailer parking lot from a bench, you see nothing. the moth cove by the wintergarden is done nice, the one by chelsa is hidden from view by the buildings so they are not not view blocking


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