Coney Island could get a new kind of water ride if a business group gets its way.
The group, which calls itself the Small Business Coalition, wants the city to create a ferry service to bring cityfolk and tourists from Lower Manhattan to the People’s Playground on a regular basis in hopes of making a shore front excursion more palatable to the masses.
“It’s a sensible government investment that would increase the amount of people in Coney Island,” said coalition founder Louis Jerome. “And it would be a huge boost to local businesses.”
Jerome pointed out that the poor souls living in Manhattan have to endure as much as an hour and 40 minutes on the train to visit Coney. For just eight dollars a trip, a ferry would slash travel time in half and provide riders with the thrill of the open air, sun, and sea — a tantalizing foretaste of what they would experience upon docking in Brooklyn’s ocean side retreat.
“A ferry would be more enjoyable, and would be part of the experience of Coney Island,” said Jerome.
He also claimed that the service could shuttle more than 3 million additional revelers to Sodom by the Sea, doubling the amount that visit each year.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation did a study in April 2012 that identified Steeplechase Pier as the ideal mooring location for such a ferry — and since the pier is still undergoing construction in the wake of Hurrican Sandy, Jerome said the city should seize the chance to outfit the structure with a gangway in order to receive the ferry.
“Hurricane Sandy created an opportunity to invest here,” said Jerome. “This would drop you right at the doorstep of Coney Island.”
The proposal comes with just two hitches — the city’s study said a ferry would need a $20-million bulkhead wall in the water off the pier to control wave action, and found that the operation would undoubtedly lose money.
“Ferry service between Lower Manhattan and Coney Island would not be financially self-sustaining,” the report reads.
But Jerome warned against sticker shock, arguing that the boat would be a net gain for Coney Island — and beats out any alternatives.
“Even if it loses some money, I think that cost is outweighed by the benefit to the small businesses,” said Jerome. “It’s cheaper than building a new subway line.”
Community Board 13 chairman Chuck Reichenthal said he has been hoping to see a ferry come to Coney Island for years.
“It’s something that’s wanted,” Reichenthal said. “It’s something the people are eagerly awaiting.”
If Jerome’s vision comes to fruition, it wouldn’t be the first ferry catering to Coney, or even using Steeplechase Pier, in recent years. S Staten Island Ferry used a floating dock to usher baseball fans to the People’s Playground from the Rock and back, and vice-versa when the Brooklyn Cyclones played their hated cross-Narrows rivals, the Staten Island Yankees, in 2001 and 2002.