BY JAMES FARRELL
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) met earlier this month with the 109th Precinct and several other community stakeholders to address excessive noise coming from party boats that have plagued Whitestone residents for at least two years.
The issue of loud, bass-heavy music emanating from the World’s Fair Marina and party boats in the nearby waterways has been raised at multiple community meetings since last summer. While much of the sound is coming from the marina parking lot, a location for late-night parties with loud music, the party boats have also contributed.
Vallone held a meeting with the 109th Precinct, NYPD Harbor Patrol, boat owners from Skyline Cruises and Marco Polo Cruises, and the city Parks Department, which owns the marina.
“The point of the meeting was to open up lines of communication between all parties, in order to come up with a means to reduce the amount of noise from permitted vessels, and also to be better equipped to report noise issues from other vessels,” said Parks spokeswoman Meghan Lalor.
According to the department, the charter operators have agreed to direct their boats west out of Flushing Bay to avoid residential areas in the east. Additionally, Vallone’s office said that the boat owners have “proactively moved their outside speakers to the inside of the cabin” and will begin attending civic meetings in College Point and Whitestone to be present in the community.
The Parks Department added that with the closure of Pier 1 at the marina this year, the agency anticipated the number of charters to be approximately 35 percent of what it has been in the past, but added that commercial operators who do not dock at the marina and other private vessels use the waterway.
Stakeholders discussed a new program in which the 109th Precinct will work with Vallone to set up a group of “boat watchers,” who would contact the precinct directly when they heard noisy boats. Those boat watchers would be trained to use boat-tracking apps such as Vessel Finders and Ship Finders.
“The purpose of this program would be to collect as much detailed information as possible in order to identify the source of the noise,” the NYPD told the Queens Tribune.
Vallone’s office added that Harbor Patrol would visit the docks at the start of the season to inform everyone that it will be periodically checking the noise. Additionally, there will be a “sound check” to determine the ideal volume at which boats should be playing music so as not to disturb the community.
Vallone also plans to push for legislation that limits the sound decibel level from pleasure vessels, increasing penalties for failing to follow the noise code and creating harsher penalties for repeat offenders.
“The days of Whitestone and College Point being plagued by incessant music and pounding bass are coming to an end,” Vallone said. “We have worked hand in hand with all parties to develop this plan, which will go a long way towards providing our neighborhoods with the peace and quiet they deserve.”
George Mirtsopoulos, vice president of the We Love Whitestone Civic Association, said that the meeting was a “good thing” and Vallone “should be commended” for it. However, he said that loud music isn’t only caused by the boats at sea, but also by cars in the marina parking lot.
“The bass music is just horrible, I mean it goes right through you,” he said. “I mean it’s getting to the point where it’s every other day something new with the noise around here, with the helicopters and the seaplanes and the music and it just doesn’t stop.”