BY JAMES FARRELL
A seemingly abandoned barge was mysteriously tied to wooden pilings on the East River, not far from the dock of the Due Ponti Restaurant on Whitestone’s northern waterfront—which came as a surprise to the restaurant’s owner, Joe Facchin.
Facchin said that the barge showed up at some point between July 20 and 21, and that he doesn’t know who moved it there, why it was placed there or to whom it belongs.
The barge appears to be in deteriorating shape—rusted and deformed—and Facchin is hoping that it won’t be in its current location for long. He said that he is concerned that the single rope holding it in place might not be enough to keep it in place.
“If it breaks down, it’s gonna come in and tear up the dock,” he said. “It’s on one line.”
During a visit to Due Ponti’s dock on July 28, the Queens Tribune witnessed a boat labeled with the word “Police” approach the barge. Men from the boat then boarded the barge to inspect it. Calls to multiple agencies revealed that the boat belongs to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
“In the course of conducting an unrelated investigation, DEC [officers] observed an abandoned barge in the East River off Powells Cove Boulevard, between 3rd and 6th avenues,” the DEC said in a statement. “An investigation to identify the owner of the barge is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available.”
The barge is also located behind the Tropicana and Pepsico warehouse in Whitestone, but a call to the warehouse seeking additional information was not returned.
Charles Rowe, the public affairs officer for the Coast Guard in New York, said that the Coast Guard was not aware of the barge. The Coast Guard is only involved with abandoned barges if the vessel impedes navigation, causes pollution or is a “menace to the boating public,” Rowe said.
The Army Corps of Engineers also said the barge is not under its authority.
“The barge is stable in its current location and does not pose a hazard to navigation,” said spokesman Michael Embrich. “Therefore, the Corps of Engineers does not have authority to pursue barge removal.”
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.
This story has been updated to include a comment from the Army Corps of Engineers.