Aerial view of damage to the Great Kills Marina area. photo: NPS/Cunningham

Nichols Marina’s 350 floating slips were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and now boaters have been told that the National Parks Service has refused to renew the lease that would allow the marina operators to rebuild.

The NPS owns the marina which they lease to Marinas of the Future Inc., an operator that oversees and maintains Great Kills Park in the Gateway National Recreation Area. Marinas of the Future wants to rebuild the docks, but as the NPS site notes: Hurricane Sandy destroyed all docks at the Great Kills Marina, so marina services for the 2013 summer season are not possible.

Nichols Marina at Great Kills Park is gone. Boat owners may store boats by at the park until April 15, 2013. photo: NPS/Dennis Bosak

Although the marina lost all of its floating slips during the storm, most of the pilings remain. Marina management reports that the bulkhead and infrastructure were not badly damaged and that their office facilities, restrooms and equipment are all in working order.

From the Staten Island Advance: “The fact that we’re even having this fight is ridiculous,” said Rep. Michael Grimm, an avid supporter of the cause who attended yesterday’s rally with more than 100 other boaters. “It will be devastating to the boating community if the National Parks Service doesn’t allow them to rebuild.”

Because the private community has offered to pay the costs to rebuild, Grimm said the National Park Service’s stance doesn’t make any sense. “That marina helps to drive the local economy. The National Parks Service needs to recognize the value of this marina.”

Docks at Nichols Marina in Great Kills. photo: Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel

On Sunday, boaters rallied to express their frustration and sadness over the National Parks decision.

From WPIX11: “This place is like family to me. Where else will I put my boat? “I’ve been hanging out here for 12 years with my friends,” Pete Palermo of Staten Island said. “Where else would I go?”

Palermo gets teary-eyed when he and his buddies talk about what the Nichols Great Kills Park Marina means to them.

“It’s like family to me,”

All 350 boats will have to be removed by April 15. photo: WPIX11

The current leaseholder, the Marinas of the Future, have been told they have no future here. The National Park Service said all boats have to be removed by April 15.

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee

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