Airy-ferry: Red Hookers say city’s planned ferry stop is impractical

Airy-ferry: Red Hookers say city’s planned ferry stop is impractical
Community News Group / Max Jaeger

They’re looking for a sea change.

The city should jetty-son its plan to open a new commuter ferry stop on the southern edge of Red Hook and drop anchor in Atlantic Basin instead, say locals.

Officials intend to send ferries to either the privately-owned Van Brunt Street pier or the city-owned parkland Valentino Pier when the city expands its ferry services in 2017. But those sites are out of walking distance for many Red Hookers, not close enough to transit, and lack parking, critics said.

“The two locations you have picked — unless they can take their car, fold it up, and put it in their briefcase — there is no parking,” said Jerry Armer, who is a member of Community Board 6, which encompasses Red Hook.

Instead, locals are floating their own plan to open the dock in Atlantic Basin, in the corner closest to Conover Street, which they said has a giant parking lot and is closer to more Hook homes.

“If you draw a half-mile radius, you can cover pretty much all of Red Hook within three blocks of this corner,” said area business owner Jim Tampakis, one of several locals who advocated for an Atlantic Basin stop at an information session about the ferry on Thursday night.

But the city says their alternate vision doesn’t hold water — the Coast Guard shuts down the entire area around the Port Authority-owned basin whenever cruise ships dock there so the international visitors can go through customs, which would restrict public access to the basin and the ferry for about 30 days a year, said a spokeswoman.

“This is a commuter service — this is something that we hope and expect that people will be able to rely on every day to get to work so we can’t have a site [closed] that several days a year,” said Justine Johnson of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is oversees the city’s ferry services.

Boats in the basin also have to move slowly enough so that they don’t leave a wake, which would drag down travel times, she said.

The Red Hook post is one of five stops the city is adding to the Brooklyn waterfront as part of a $55-million ferry expansion that it will begin rolling out in 2017, and officials are unlikely to change course from the Van Brunt Street and Valentino piers so close to the launch, said Economic Development Corporation asset manager Peter Flynt.

But if it can ever figure out a way to make an Atlantic Basin stop feasible, the ferry landing — a floating barge — would be easy enough to move, he said.

“If we had a crane on site, we could move it in a matter of three to seven days,” said Flynt.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Making moves: This map shows the route of the mayor’s proposed new ferry network. It is set to launch in 2017.
Mayor’s Office