Some community members are upset with the board of the Queens Recreational Boating Association for giving notice to canteen operator Sharon Westlake they would not be leasing the Brooklyn Marina kitchen to her next year.
Westlake had been serving hot food out of the marina kitchen for the past several years but was informed she would not be offered the space to continue next summer.
A photo of the letter was shared on social media sparking an outcry of support for Westlake.
Association President Loris Azzano says the decision is no reflection on Westlake, her staff or the food, the marina simply needed the kitchen back to be able to provide more events for their members.
“Once you lease out that space you shut that door and inside that door is her space. Some of the comments were saying, you could use it when she’s not around and work around her hours. Well, that’s not how it works,” said Azzano. “We gave up the space. She’s got her own equipment, her own food in the fridge. You can’t go in and say okay, for Saturday I’m going to have a function and I’m going to start using your kitchen.”
Azzano says the 63 boating slips at the Brooklyn Marina have been booked solid for the past two years and they have a waiting list.
He understands some people may complain about losing access to the canteen but at $450 a year, the slip fees are very inexpensive, and for $20 per year, anyone can have a social membership to the marina, they don’t need to own a boat.
Azzano says the Queens Recreational Boating Association board have made several upgrades to the Marina including new docks, installing a roof over the veranda and fresh paint.
He says now that they’ve taken care over the physical needs, they need to make long-term plans for the club, and they can’t do that without have full control over their own building.
“I’m disappointed that it went this far. And yet, on the one level, how do you let people know that we weren’t doing anything to discredit what Sharon has done and we weren’t doing anything against the community at large,” said Azzano. “It’s just from an operating marina facility, we really do need to control our own space. We need to be able to at least control it and then decide what we can offer, within the limitations of what we have as a facility.”
Azzano says the board will take the winter to determine how many volunteers and staff they will have next year before making plans for how the canteen will operate and what they can offer.
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