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Abandoned Boats Along New York City's Shorelines Pose Safety Problems And Costly Cleanup

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Abandoned boats are causing an environmental hazard along New York City's shores.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, a lack of funding seems to be slowing down the cleanup.

The beauty of New York City's shorelines is being blighted by boats that have been abandoned and are endangering the environment.

One washed up on the shore of Pelham Bay in the Bronx six months ago. It's now covered in graffiti and rotting. Its owner is unknown.

"You're talking about also gasoline that may be in there," Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa said. "The Parks Department wants to make sure that these vehicles are removed."

"There's also the navigational hazards these things can pose. If they do come adrift in a storm, it can cause more property damage or risk to other boaters out there on the waterways," added Nate Grove of the New York City Parks Department.

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Grove, chief of citywide waterfront and marine operations, has overseen the removal of some 350 boats over the last five years and said as many as 600 vessels remain abandoned along the city's combined 520 miles of shoreline.

Removing and safely disposing one boat costs around $7,000.

City Councilman Mark Gjonaj is using $30,000 of his own discretionary funds to haul away three.

"I wish I could do more. I have to do more. But we have to come up with a steady stream of funding just to address this issue," Gjonaj said.

There's also a push to add a tax to boater registration -- money that could help pay to clear away and clean up boats, Sanchez reported.

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Boat owners can be hard to track down to pay the bill, due to serial numbers removed and boaters' insurance not required in New York. And when this luxury becomes unaffordable, owners often cut them loose.

The Parks Department is considering a boat buy-back program.

"If you're struggling to stay in boating, if you're struggling with what to do with a boat, first call 311," Grove said. "We may be able to work with owners to figure out affordable disposal methods for them."

Instead of the community and environment paying the price for irresponsible dumping.

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