The hotly-contested Coney Island ferry is slated to land at the Kaiser Park pier near Bayview Avenue, city officials announced.
Reps for the NYC Economic Development Corporation — the quasi-government agency overseeing the project — stated that officials “strongly recommended” the Kaiser Park location at a community meeting Wednesday, citing the area’s calm waters and existing pier, which is expected to help mitigate construction costs.
“Because of the depths of the water, in order to make the [W. 33rd Street] site work, we would’ve had to build a very long pier and a barge that’s more exposed,” said James Wong at a community board meeting on Wednesday night.
Last night’s meeting follows a Brooklyn Paper report foreshadowing the Kaiser Park announcement in July, when a construction worker from Skanska leaked that EDC has settled on the pier location rather than a W. 33 Street site two blocks away. EDC officials denied the claim at the time, saying that they were still studying both locations and had not given a contract to Skanska.
The EDC spokesman on Wednesday confirmed that Skanska was selected as the city’s contractor for the ferry project.
The ferry line, which will stop at Bay Ridge before heading to lower Manhattan, is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to dramatically expand the ferry service to transit-starved neighborhoods throughout the city. Travelers will pay $2.75 per ride and are allowed one transfer — but each ticket will require a nearly $10 subsidy from the city, EDC officials confirmed on Wednesday. Previous studies have pegged subsidies at nearly $25 per ride.
Many Coney Islanders have advocated for the new ferry line, but strongly oppose placing the ferry terminal in Kaiser Park, arguing that the landing’s construction will stir up dangerous levels of mercury, lead, and pesticides in the creek, potentially harming locals who fish and swim in the area.
“I can’t for the life of me understand why you don’t have a fund in place to protect us all when we get sick,” Sea Gate resident Annette Fisher told EDC. “I want you to go stand in the water and get back to me.”
EDC reps said they would use environmental buckets and silt fences to contain contamination while dredging, but environmentalist Ida Sanoff claimed that similar tactics have failed in the past.
“Assemblyman Colton and his staff witnessed dredging accidents that occurred during construction of the SW Marine Transfer Station,” she said. “These included toxic sediments being dumped out of the so called ‘safe’ environmental bucket and other dredge related problems.”
Others attendees objected to the fact the landing will drop tourists off more than one mile away from the amusement district, causing traffic and crowding the serene park used for fishing and religious ceremonies.
Representatives have claimed they have no choice but to build along the creek, since building a landing on the peninsula’s ocean side would require more ocean-ready ferries and millions more dollars in infrastructure. As is, the construction will cost about $7 million, and the ferry is slated to be up and running by the end of 2021, EDC reps said.
To reduce traffic and increase accessibility, Councilman Mark Treyger assured residents that he would request funding for a free public shuttle between the amusement district and the ferry stop.
“I’m going to prioritize a shuttle,” Treyger said at the meeting.
The ferry will bring needed business to the peninsula’s flagging commercial corridors and directly connect residents to Manhattan for the first time, Treyger said.
“In the long run, I think this is one of the most consequential developments actually in favor of Coney Island,” he said.