NBC 10 I-Team: City tells man to remove sunken crane or face legal action
You can see the twisted steel from the highway driving through Providence. You can't miss it if you're on the water in the upper Providence River. A large crane and a barge have been submerged for about nine months, since October 2017. No government agency was holding its owner, Mark Ginalski, 60, of East Providence, responsible.
The state Department of Environmental Management told the NBC 10 I-Team in April that the wreck wasn't leaking oil. The Coast Guard said it wasn't a pollution threat or a hazard to navigation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had no involvement.
Now, the city of Providence has stepped in and issued a sternly worded demand letter to Ginalski to remove the crane or face legal action.
"The barge is an obstacle to the proper use of the waters for commercial and recreational purpose by the City and its residents," wrote the harbormaster, Sgt. Kenneth Vinacco. He called the wreckage an “eyesore” and wrote, "If you fail to remove the barge from Providence Harbor by August 1, 2018, the city will take legal action."
Ginalski didn't want to answer the I-Team's questions about the sunken crane in April.
An NBC 10 I-Team investigation discovered he's had other boats and barges sink over the years.
"I think whoever did this should pay," Ginalski told NBC 10 in 2014 when his tugboat was stolen and sank in East Providence.
At one point, he was federally fined for causing an oil leak in coastal waters and separately for a crane collapse. In 2002, a Ginalski barge sank in the Warren River.
Police and court records also show Ginalski's been arrested or charged 28 times in his life. Allegations against him ranged from selling crack cocaine to stealing property and money.
A representative for Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said Ginalski did contact the city’s law department requesting a meeting. To date, no meeting has taken place.
After the I-Team’s original story, Ginalski left a reporter an expletive-laden voicemail and said he was going to put the reporter’s picture up on the crane.
"You’re going to look at it every mother (expletive) day, because I ain’t touching that (expletive) barge," said Ginalski.
The city said legal action could include removing the barge and billing Ginalski, a fine, or imprisonment.