Coney Islanders at a ferry planning meeting this week told officials they’re happy about the service, they’re just not thrilled about where it might be docking.
New York City Economic Development Corporation representatives met with Coney Island residents, community board members and other stakeholders at the New York Aquarium on Tuesday to collect public comment on the neighborhood’s forthcoming ferry service, slated to set sail sometime in 2021.
While feedback on the ferry itself was mostly friendly, attendees wondered whether or not the city agency, which operates the waterborne transit service alongside vessel operator Hornblower, had really thought through the two proposed landings they’re pitching.
Currently up for consideration are two spots in Coney Creek: the first at Bayview Avenue and 33rd Street; and the second off the fishing pier at 29th Street and Neptune Avenue near Kaiser Park.
Local activist Ida Sanoff warned officials to be “very, very fastidious” if they go ahead with either of the proposed locations.
“The further east you go in the creek, the more likely you are the encounter nastier sediments,” she said, stressing that Mirex — a now-banned and proven-hazardous insecticide — as well as UXOs (unexploded ordinances) have been traced to the waters in the past.
“Just watch out for bombs, folks,” Sanoff said.
Community Board 13 District Manager Eddie Mark contended that, concerns about the Creek aside, both proposed landings would be too far from the entertainment district.
“We’re concerned that when people are coming to Coney Island, they’re looking for the beach, and they’ll be there instead,” he said.
Mark maintained that a spot near the storied Coney Island Pumping Station and Mark Twain I.S. 239 (where there’s an added opportunity for parking and a closer distance to the neighborhood’s amusement area) could be a good compromise.
“I know there is some question about the depth over there, but if you guys will be dredging anyway, that might be worth considering,” he said. “It might be the best of two worlds.”
The new route will go from Coney Island to Wall Street, with one stop in Bay Ridge in between. The trip will take 37 minutes from one end to the other, the ride from Bay Ridge to Wall Street clocking in at just 19.
The addition comes on the heels of repeated calls on the city agency and the mayor to bring NYC Ferry service to Coney Island, a destination neighborhood advocates argue has been underserved in terms of mass transit, and has one of the longest commutes to Manhattan.
While NYCEDC officials did not respond directly to speakers during the forum (attendees were asked to stop by a table on their way out if they wanted to speak one-on-one with an agency rep), a spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle that officials are looking to serve residents who may not have easy access to the neighborhood’s limited subways.
“NYC Ferry’s primary goal is to ease commuting for New Yorkers that live in far-flung communities that lack affordable and efficient transit options, which is why the landing will be sited on the creek side where the majority of the Coney Island peninsula’s residential core is,” a spokesperson said.
The Coney Island route is part of an NYC Ferry expansion which will also include expanded service from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan and the West Side as well as a new stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and a new landing at Ferry Point in the Bronx.
The Coney Island dock will be the system’s ninth in Brooklyn, and 21st citywide.
There is no current timeline for choosing a landing, according to the agency.