Intrepid still on schedule Reports misleading on delays as well as hydrant use

Despite reports in The New York Times and CBS radio, the USS Intrepid will sail from New York City to Bayonne as scheduled, said Nancy Kist, executive director of the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority.

The carrier is slated to be moved to Bayonne on Nov. 6 as part of project that will allow the aging craft to be serviced at the Bayonne Dry Dock, while the pier in New York City is upgraded.

News reports, however, said crumbling piers in Bayonne could delay the move and force the museum to relocate elsewhere.

In truth, the intended pier is still being upgraded, as part of a massive stabilization project being conducted by the BLRA.

“We still have divers in the water,” Kist said, adding that the area first intended to park the Intrepid will not be ready in time for the move so that another parking spot long the mile-long peninsula will be used.

“The transfer will not be delayed,” she said. “We anticipated docking the ships at a berth on the south side. But we’re still doing repairs. But we have other berths available.”

The Intrepid’s voyage to Bayonne on Nov. 6 will be its first since 1982 and will leave New York City at 9 a.m. and will make a stop at the site of the former World Trade Center Towers, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty before arriving at its new home in Bayonne at about 5 p.m.

Alleged water theft questioned

At the same time the Bayonne Municipal Utility Authority hiked water bills by a record 46 percent, Councilman Gary LaPelusa apparently uncovered several questionable connections to the city water system.

While Bayonne Golf Club has paid a $1,000 fine for accidentally hooking up an unmetered fire hydrant, another hook up was made at the former Military Ocean Terminal to service a cruise ship docked there.

Golf course officials said a confused subcontractor mistakenly hooked up to an unmetered hydrant.

Allen Hicks, project manager for the Bayonne Golf Club, said the course has eight hydrants, six metered, two unmetered. A subcontractor mistakenly hooked up a line to the unmetered hydrant.

“This was lack of oversight on our part that allowed wrong hydrant to be used,” Hicks said.

Ron D’Argenio, the attorney for the club, said this was the result of miscommunication between various workers on site.

The error resulted in the use of less $350 worth of water, but seems to have become a political issue at a time when residents face a stiff hike in water rates.

At a time when industrial water companies are reducing consumption, Bayonne Golf Course has become one of the largest consumers of water in the city, paying the city almost $120,000 in fees this year.

“Before this happened, we just dropped off a check for $74,000 to cover the water we used over the summer,” D’Argenio said. Last year, the golf club paid $500,000 to the city for connection fees.

D’Argenio said the error occurred when the subcontractor was directed to use a hydrant rather than internal water system at the golf course, and the subcontractor was apparently unaware that two of the eight hydrants were unmetered.

Councilman La Pelusa, alerted by a local resident about a possible illegal hookup, inspected several hydrants before discovering the illegal hookup.

D’Argenio said the city will put copper wire around the non-metered hydrants so that workers will not make the same mistake again.

“It was an honest error,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll make other mistakes. But we had no designs to steal water from the city.”

Political rhetoric connected with the incident also attacked the club unfairly in regards to several other issues. Tom Solari, who accompanied LaPelusa on the hydrant inspection, claimed the club did not help the local economy. But D’Argenio and others noted that the club makes use of local flower shops, taxi and limo services, and catering halls, as well as hires local residents.

“This project closed a landfill the city could not afford to close,” he said. “As a result of the construction of this golf course, residents have jobs, a waterfront walkway, and taxes that we pay to the city.”

D’Argenio also said the golf course is a visual amenity to the area, and is one of the sites promoted by developers who had made proposals for constructing townhouses on the nearby former Military Ocean Terminal.

BLRA defends cruise ship use of hydrants

Because the Queen Mary II docked in Bayonne in early April, the Zenith, which docks here weekly, was forced to use another berth. This resulted in cruise officials using an unmetered hydrant to provide the ship with its water needs.

To accommodate the ship, fire fighters using a pumper truck were enlisted to supply the ship with the $800 worth of water needed.

“Nothing improper was done,” Kist said. “The BLRA owns the property. Royal Caribbean uses our facilities and reimburses us for any expense that is out of the ordinary. The fire department sent us a bill for the use of their services. We passed the bill onto Royal Caribbean.”

Kist said BLRA has an interlocal agreement with the city to use its services and call upon city resources when needed.

Kist said all departments from the fire department to the water department were aware of the operations at the time.

“It is unfortunate that this was characterized as an unauthorized use,” she said. “This is not true. But what worries me most is that we are trying to bring businesses here in order to generate jobs, and we have someone accusing existing businesses of theft without knowing all of the facts. This could discourage other businesses from wanting to relocate here. No one did anything wrong here. No one connected with the MOTBY paid any fines. The reports that someone stole anything were wrong, and may have hurt our ability to do business.”


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