Following hordes of complaints and a spate of incidents at town marinas, Islip officials vowed Tuesday to hire seasonal employees to patrol its marinas.
The move, a reversal of the town board's earlier decision to eliminate the marina guard program and lay off several harbor patrol guards, came as several residents griped at Tuesday's town board meeting about vandalism and other crime at the marinas.
Mel Faust said several vessels docked near his power boat at the Bay Shore Marina had been burglarized in recent weeks, and youths were seen throwing bottles and skating on the boat ramps. He attributed the problems to a lack of guards. "We have to do something now," said the 50-year-old Central Islip man. "It's out of hand."
Islip Town park rangers and Suffolk police on April 27 caught three people at the West Islip Marina who allegedly stole gas cans and a bag from two boats there, said town officials. They stressed that despite the cuts, rangers and the county police force patrol the areas.
Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said she's received several complaints about little security at the marinas. Weichbrodt said she's requested Public Safety Commissioner John J. Carney compile a report on criminal activity at the town's marinas so the board can implement an action plan.
"It's very much a financial thing," Bergin Weichbrodt said.
Last year, the board eliminated its marina guard program and laid off harbor patrol guards to save about $1.2 million.
Councilman Anthony S. Senft Jr. said the town plans to hire the seasonal employees as early as next week, but the details and the cost had not yet been determined.
"Do I regret [the cuts]? No, I still believe that was the right decision in a hard economic time," Senft said.
Councilman John C. Cochrane Jr. said it's important for the town to have a "presence" at the marinas.
James Papa, 54, of Bay Shore, said the situation is dangerous to public safety.
"Someone's boat gets damaged, it's a boat. But we're talking about a people problem," Papa said. "One of the primary responsibilities of government is to ensure the safety of its citizenry."Charlie Ferraro of Brentwood, who docks his sail boat in Bay Shore, said marina guards are needed to check permits and residents from other towns because those without permits are essentially stealing town services. "Right now, it's a gang-style operation over there," said Ferraro, 67.