Village getting knack of off-rack kayak removal

Village getting knack of off-rack kayak removal

Village kayak racks at Centennial Park beach don't provide enough space to meet demand. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Before the boating season gets into full swing, officials are trying to agree on what to do about people who leave their kayaks strewn on Port Jefferson beaches without a permit.

During a recent trip to the beach at the end of Crystal Brook Hollow Road, village Trustee Larry LaPointe saw “there were five licensed kayaks on the rack and 20 on the ground scattered over the entire area, some chained up to trees, most of them just laying there,” he said during a recent board of trustees meeting.

In April, the village held its annual lottery to determine which residents would get to use its kayak racks at that beach, which is located on Mount Sinai Harbor, and the beach at Centennial Park, on Port Jefferson Harbor.

“All of the slots were accounted for” in the lottery, LaPointe said, “so that means most of the people who won the lottery haven’t put their kayaks down there yet.”

There are signs at the beaches warning that kayaks must be properly stored in racks, yet there are still many left unattended. To solve the issue, a code proposal would give the head of public works authority to remove unpermitted vessels that have been left unattended for 48 hours, Village Attorney Brian Egan explained at the meeting. The village clerk would give notice that the boat was removed, with a description of the vessel, and after 30 days unclaimed it would be considered abandoned.

At that point, Egan said, the village would be able to sell or otherwise dispose of it. And LaPointe said there could be an annual auction of the abandoned vessels.

“And what do I do when some of [the owners] come to kill me?” Trustee Bruce Miller joked, referring to potentially angry kayak owners confronting public works Superintendent Steve Gallagher.

The trustees also discussed kayaks being unmarked with ownership information.

“What happens when they say, ‘That’s my kayak,’ and the other guy says, ‘No, that’s my kayak,’” Trustee Bruce D’Abramo said.

“How do you prove that’s your kayak when there’s no marks,” LaPointe agreed.

D’Abramo replied, “Yep, I could get a free kayak.”

As the code would allow the village to charge those picking up impounded vessels with the costs of removal, storage and the price of the clerk’s public notification, another question raised was what the “reasonable costs” referenced in the proposed code would entail.

Mayor Margot Garant said she hoped to have a list of recommended fees by the time the matter went up for a public hearing at the board meeting on June 6.