Port Jefferson Village Board denies use of floating docks to extreme water sport
FlyboardLI, a company behind a fairly new extreme water sport, has been denied approval to operate out of Port Jefferson Harbor any longer.
It had been previously working out of the harbor without approval of the Port Jefferson Village Board or a proper permit since May this year.
The board decided at a meeting on Monday evening that there were too many liabilities attached to the activity. Trustees said the harborfront park has always been a passive park, and they want it to remain that way.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, Bissett was disappointed to hear that the village would not be approving his proposal.
“I bring people into the town, it’s a very popular activity,” Jimmy Bissett, owner of FlyboardLI said. “I had more than 500 customers last season, and I am doing very well this season.”
Invented by Franky Zapata, a competitive jet skier, the sport offers a fusion between wakeboarding, surfing, kite surfing, and Jet Skis. It involves strapping into a pair of boots, which are connected to a long hose. The rider can control the hose to float on the water, submerge underneath it or soar above it.
The sport gained popularity after a 2012 YouTube video of the first flight ever went viral. The video now has more than 15 million views.
The Village Board was unanimous in its decision to deny a trial period for FlyboardLI in the harbor. Bissett had also requested three parking spaces and the use of the floating docks in the harbor as part of his application.
Members including Trustee Larry LaPointe said he felt that there were more liabilities at stake to comprehend. He questioned if someone on a Flyboard struck a resident who was paddle-boarding, or damaged a boat in the harbor, whether the village would be held accountable.
Mayor Margot Garant said she had mixed feelings on the application.
“I think it’s a great attraction, but I feel that the harbor is a passive place, for activities like paddle-boarding and fishing.”
The board noted that FlyboardLI had participated in the village’s last two maritime festivals and at both, the activity seemed to be a big success. Board members also noted that the floating docks in the harbor Bissett wants to use for the business currently have no activity on them.
But the board felt that the potential cons would outweigh the pros for the village.
Bissett started the company last summer in Riverhead, but he first became involved with the sport in 2012, when he was in Arizona. He wanted to bring the activity back to his native Long Island to share it with residents here.
Last summer, while operating out of Peconic River in Riverhead, Bissett ran into some problems with the Town of Riverhead. He decided in the next season to bring FlyboardLI to his hometown of Port Jefferson.
Bisset explained that every participant has to be sign a liability waiver, and that the company is fully insured. The company offers several session options. The 15-minute session starts at $99.