Restore Dyckman Marina

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“At the far west end of what the district refers to as the Dyckman corridor, is the unnervingly popular riverside restaurant-bar-hookah-dance venue La Marina.”

 Metro, Dec 7, 2016

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Welcome to 2017.  This will be the sixth season operating under the never-enforced and pretty-much-worthless concession agreement for the establishment at the Dyckman Marina basin.  The rent will still only be a measly 8% (far below the rents of 14% at Boat Basin Cafe or 12% at New Leaf Cafe) and as we’ve noted over and over, much of the money potentially owed to the city may never be seen because concert ticket income seems to not be reported.  But never mind all of those abstract numbers — a return to warm weather and the concession’s reopening means a return of illegal noisy concerts that bring unfair traffic and parking mayhem to Inwood’s 40,000 residents.

As usual, attempts have been made to correct the situation by asking Parks to abide by the agreements that were actually negotiated and signed back in 2009, rather than continue whatever fantasy they have been living in since 2012.  And last year saw a lot more scrutiny than usual, with federal corruption investigations surrounding Mayor de Blasio extending to La Marina’s majority partner.

2016 part1

Concert posters from the first half of the 2016 season.

But despite FBI rumors and calls for audits, as in past years Parks simply resorted to “alternative facts” to respond to critics.   In June 2016, a Parks spokesperson stated in an email to a neighborhood group that:

Similar to last season, La Marina is limiting the number of large Beach events, which are events on the beach that meet or exceed 1,000 attendees, to 15.

Keep in mind that there is no legal basis for even one of these “events” (which involve tickets and music and are called “concerts” by non-lying people).  Nonetheless, over the course of the summer Parks could not even manage to enforce their own invented and relaxed guideline.  In October 2016, long after the last mic had dropped, the spokesperson stated in a followup email:

La Marina is limiting their number of large beach events to 15 per year … for such an event to be included, it must meet or exceed 1,000 attendees.  Any events with less than 1,000 attendees are not counted in the 15 per year restriction.  Using that parameter, La Marina hosted 10 large beach events this season.

In reality, there were at least 40 heavily advertised, ticketed events in summer 2016, as seen in the posters on this page.

2016 part2

Concert posters from the second half of the 2016 season

At least 21 of those events, as documented here, hosted large crowds that filled the beach area to 2/3 or more (the beach alone has a legal capacity of 1,500 people):

1. May 21 Memorial Day Party
2. May 30 Brunch Bounce
3. June 12 Mega Music Series #3
4. June 18 Everyday People
5. June 19 Mega Music Series #4
6. June 25 Mai Tai NY
7. July 2 Chicken & Beer
8. July 3 Lovetrain Tour
9. July 4 Brunch n Beats
10. July 10 Mega Music Series #6
11. July 16 CRIBS
12. July 22 AfroCarnival
13. July 24 Mega Music Series #8
14. Aug. 6 Everyday People
15. Aug. 20 Summer Daze
16. Aug. 21 Rains/Powder Wars
17. Aug 26 Fiesta Empanada
18. Aug 27 Afro Caribbean
19. Sept 3 Everyday People #3
20. Sept 5 Brunch n Beats
21. Sept 10 Brunch Bounce

So how exactly does twenty-one equal ten?  How exactly do the images of all those concert posters  match up with “concerts are strictly prohibited” as stated in section 10.16 of the concession agreement?  How exactly was this creating “a significant improvement to the ambience of the park and surrounding area while providing a convenient service to the public” as required by the original concession RFP?  We’ll never know, as when Parks can’t give an answer that justifies their negligence, they provide no answer at all.

The only time in 2016 when Parks did their job properly in overseeing the concession was when they cancelled a boxing event that the operators had booked for the site.  Presumably they could not come up with a way to describe a live boxing match better suited for Madison Square Garden as being part of the approved use of “a full-service restaurant and a lounge”, so in this one rare instance it was dropped.

But one right does not make up for so many wrongs.  Will the same abuse of Inwood’s largest park as a late-night concert venue happen again in 2017?  What about the never-performed audit, or the missing EcoDock?  Will the city continue to look the other way as the alcohol industry uses a city park as a promotional vehicle?  Will the NYPD continue to pretend that Dyckman Street is not the city’s biggest illegal parking operation?  And exactly how many new explicit songs will come out this year referencing La Marina in their lyrics?

The big question for 2017 remains: will Dyckman Marina ever be restored to its intended and approved uses?

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