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Rally today opposes new Manhattan marina developers

A rally is taking place today at Manhattan’s North Cove Marina, which has had a strong presence in community sailing programs for working- and middle-class New Yorkers, in an effort to prevent developers from taking over the marina.

“Several large, well-connected companies are in a good position to take over management of North Cove [in a totally opaque process], which wouldn't do anything good for the yacht club, sailing school or accessibility to the harbor in general,” Save North Cove press contact Carl Byers said in an email.

One of the recent bidders is said to be among the largest fundraisers in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s most recent re-election bid, according to The Broadsheet Daily.

Among the bidders expected to compete for the contract to manage Battery Park City's North Cove Marina is Island Global Yachting, a company founded and controlled by Andrew Farkas, a billionaire global real estate investor who invested heavily in Cuomo’s campaign.

“The Battery Park City Authority is poised to cut off the public from the water at North Cove, shocking the downtown community and raising disturbing questions about turning a public space into a gated parking lot for billionaires’ yachts,” said a release from the grassroots group looking to stop the turnover.

An activist-driven petition at change.org has gathered more than 600 signatures in less than 24 hours, calling on Cuomo and the Battery Park City Authority to keep the neighborhood’s park water space open to the public.

Michael Fortenbaugh has managed North Cove Marina for 10 years, and he has created a sailing club with more than 900 members, a sailing school, a summer camp with separate instruction programs for young children and teenagers and a foundation that seeks to introduce underprivileged youth to sailing, according to Sailing Scuttlebutt.

Battery Park City resident Fortenbaugh, of MSC and the Sailing School, has been instructed to hand over North Cove’s keys on Dec. 31, which advocates say will result in water sports enthusiasts losing the only small-boat access currently available in Manhattan.

“Now that Michael has been so successful in revitalizing the waterfront, it’s primed for corporate takeover,” Claire Morda, a retired teacher at Kingsborough Community College, said in a statement. “But a big corporation won't focus on the community access — so what are regular people to do now? Take the ferry, I suppose? Looks like we'll simply be shut out.”

“I work as a city employee for the NYC Department of Education,” longtime sailor Randy Lewis said in a statement. “If North Cove is turned into a restrictive private marina, a middle-class family like mine will lose the opportunity to sail in New York Harbor. We can't afford to purchase, maintain or harbor a yacht of our own.”

Downtown voters are planning a rally at 6 p.m. today on the south side of the cove, next to Gateway Plaza.

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