Atlantique boat owners are protesting plans by the new managers of the Fire Island summer community’s marina to hike slip rental rates, impose new fees for electrical service and eliminate discounts for seniors and disabled boaters.
The planned changes — announced after the Town of Islip, which owns the marina, hired two companies to manage the facility — have some boaters worried as they prepare for the summer sailing season.
Many boat owners can’t afford the fee hikes, said Diane Setter of West Sayville, president of the 1,200-member Atlantique Boat Owners Association.
"We are middle-class residents here," Setter said. "For some reason, the town thinks we are these rich people over here, and we’re not. They’re just not doing their job."
The town, which operated the marina for about 60 years, last month awarded a contract to run the facility to Strong’s Marine of Mattituck and Al Grovers High and Dry Marina of Freeport.
The companies, which run marinas in Mattituck and Southampton Town, have announced plans to increase Atlantique slip rental fees to $2 per foot for Islip residents and $4 per foot for nonresidents. Daily electric rates ranging from $7 to $15 also will be added, they said. Islip did not charge for electricity.
Setter has questioned the bidding process that awarded the contract to the companies and asked town officials to investigate. She said the association had planned to bid for the deal but did not do so because it believed it would not qualify under town criteria. The group plans to demonstrate Saturday morning outside Islip Town Hall in Islip.
In a statement, Islip officials defended the bidding process and said the town received "multiple proposals" before awarding the contract.
"The [boat owners association] had every opportunity to" bid on the contract, "and while they did inquire about submitting a proposal, one was never submitted," the town said.
Strong’s Marine president Jeff Strong said the fee hikes are necessary to make improvements and repairs over the next four years. He said upgrades are planned for trash disposal, Wi-Fi, bathrooms, electricity and other services.
"We believe that [fee increases are] very fair and we’ve asked people to have a little patience," he said. "Next winter they’ll see there were very significant investments. ... The electric needs a lot of investment on things that have not been reliable and have not been maintained."
Setter estimated the facility needs about $5 million to $10 million worth of repairs from damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and other storms. Strong said repairing the facilities is a "high priority."
Strong said the companies planned an announcement next week about discounts for seniors and other groups. The companies had announced plans to eliminate those discounts, he said.