Ship wrecked: Civic gurus capsize tour-boat captain’s plan to set sail for Sunset Park

Boat ban: Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowtiz introduced new legislation in February that seeks to ban party boats from Sheepshead Bay.
Photo by Steven Schnibbe

A seaman fleeing the wreckage of Sheepshead Bay’s outlawed party-boat business faces community opposition to his plan to call Sunset Park’s Pier 4 his next port of call, after neighborhood civic gurus slammed the dock’s existing party boat business as a nuisance at a Community Board 7 meeting Wednesday.

“Now that it’s become a party boat pier, it’s filthy and it’s disgusting,” said board member Joan Botti. “I understand that they discovered two dead bodies floating in the water at the pier, so it seems to be going downhill very fast.”

Tour boat operator Pete Guoba, captain of the Sheryll Princess, first came to the board’s Public Safety Committee on Monday seeking the group’s endorsement for transferring his existing liquor license from his dock on Sheepshead Bay’s Emmons Avenue to Pier 4, after the city’s Economic Development Corporation offered him a berth there in the wake of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call to forbid party boat captains from boarding passengers in the southern Brooklyn neighborhood.

De Blasio’s edict — which allows party boats to dock, but not board passengers in Sheepshead Bay — followed area Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz’s lobbying efforts against the industry earlier this year on behalf of community members, who complained that party boat patrons had become a public nuisance, citing routine tailgating ahead of cruises, and late night rowdiness upon their disembarkation.

But members of Community Board 7 argued that Sunset Park’s party boat scene is equally debauched, and the local civic gurus had only to point to the wild shooting and police chase that devolved from a dispute aboard a party boat last year as evidence of the business’s deleterious effect upon the neighborhood.

And, true to Botti’s words, two bodies did wash up beside Pier 4 in March, although the police department has not released any information connecting those grisly finds to the area’s party boat scene.

But a representative for Gouba argued at Monday’s committee meeting that he runs a tight ship, which shouldn’t be lumped in with his booze-slinging colleagues, claiming his four-hour tours to and from the Statue of Liberty are monitored by a top-notch security outfit headed by a veteran of the US Coast Guard and that he always ensures his berths are cleaned up at the end of a trip.

“This is a model, exemplary licensee who’s done everything by the book for 20 years,” said Rosa Ruiz, a business consultant representing Gouba in his application.

And the chairwoman of Community Board 15, the advisory board that represents Sheepshead Bay, said Gouba’s on the level, and that the numerous complaints surrounding that neighborhood’s party boat business have never involved the Sheryll Princess.

“He has really never been a problem,” said Theresa Scavo.

But Scavo’s testimony, which she phoned in to Community Board 7’s District Manger Jeremy Laufer ahead of Wednesday’s full board meeting, wasn’t enough to sway members of the other community board, which voted overwhelmingly against Guoba’s application.

The community board’s vote is advisory, and its up to the State Liquor Authority to decide whether or not to give Guoba his transfer.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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