emstaats@naplesnews.com" /> 14 live-aboards told to leave Crayton Cove marina » Marco Eagle

14 live-aboards told to leave Crayton Cove marina

For the past 25 years, live-aboards at the Crayton Cove marina on Naples Bay have called their boats their homes.

Some boats have lawn chairs on their decks. Some are decorated with flowerpots and colorful pinwheels. Soon, though, they will be gone.

The marina owner has given 14 live-aboard vessels until Nov. 1 to leave after months of talks between the marina owner and the state Department of Environmental Protection about a new submerged land lease and a proposed settlement of allegations that the marina violated its previous lease.

Besides ending a way of life, eviction notices delivered last Friday are uprooting live-aboards, most of whom say they are at a loss as to where to go next.

"This has been a very friendly neighborhood," said Robert Roed, 48, who has lived at the Crayton Cove marina for more than 12 years. "It's been pretty devastating."

They say they are the victims of false complaints that they empty waste into Naples Bay. Tenants have repeatedly denied it. They say they use pump-out facilities and use showers and restrooms at City Dock. Emptying sewage into the bay would be like dumping it in their back yards, tenants say.

"These are our homes," said Roed, sweeping his arm toward boats of all shapes and sizes moored along the wind-whipped boardwalk.

Lisa Paul, who manages the marina as director of operations for Neapolitan Enterprises, said Monday that the DEP demanded an end to the existing live-aboard leases in order for the marina to keep its submerged land lease.

"We had no option," Paul said.

The marina, which juts off the boardwalk that leads to the Naples City Dock, is owned by a Fleischmann family trust. A different trust owns the Fleischmann property that includes the Naples Zoo and has been the subject of purchase negotiations with Collier County.

DEP spokeswoman Lisa Douglass said the DEP would allow the marina to have live-aboards as long as the marina built adequate bathrooms and showers and had sewage hook-ups.

Even then, under a new state policy in effect since the marina's previous lease ran out in 2000, live-aboards could not live there for more than six months out of a year unless Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet waived the requirement.

The marina now allows live-aboards year-round. The 28-slip marina will remain open, but without live-aboard tenants, Paul said.

Douglass said the marina owners still are negotiating the terms of a settlement of DEP allegations that the marina violated its previous lease. The DEP has proposed $71,000 in fines.

Lease violations have included adding slips and a pier outside the lease boundary, mooring boats outside the lease area, allowing a boat repair business and obscuring a manatee awareness sign, according to the DEP.

DEP inspectors also found gaps in dates recorded on a sewage pump-out log and vessels not capable of moving to a pump-out station, according to reports.

Until Nov. 1, the DEP is requiring the marina to conduct weekly inspections of the live-aboard slips to make sure each vessel's holding tanks are locked and tagged in the closed position and to verify use of the pump-out facilities, according to a letter sent to tenants.

The DEP also has required the marina owner to provide temporary toilets "for the mandatory use of all live-aboard tenants," according to the letter.

The controversy over the live-aboards has made the marina an unpleasant place to call home, tenants said Monday.

Dana Wilson, 47, had lived at the Crayton Cove marina for nine years before moving his boat to Fort Lauderdale last week.

"It's sad, it really is," he said.

Other tenants are not sure where they will end up.

Marinas that own the bottom beneath them don't need a submerged land lease and are not subject to the six-months policy. They are few and far between in Collier County — and pricey.

Those slips can sell for $400,000 to $600,000 and can demand monthly rents between $1,500 and $3,000, said Carl Fernstrom, who owns docks behind Tin City capable of handling live-aboards.

That's a far cry from the days when a boat owner could pull into Naples and plunk down a few hundred dollars a month for a spot on the water.

"Those days are gone," Fernstrom said.

© 2005 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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