‘Democracy ignored’: Canarsie leaders blast city’s ferry decision

Seas the day!: Councilman Alan Maisel wants the city to move forward with adding a stop at Canarsie Pier for the city-wide ferry system.
Photo by Steve Schnibbe

They’re hoping the city gives into pier pressure.

Canarsie civic leaders blasted the city after a recent meeting to explain their decision to forego creation of a local ferry stop.

Locals scoffed at the city’s explanation, which was presented to the community on April 24, saying the neighborhood was ignored in the decision making process.

“It was a clear demonstration of Democracy ignored,” said Marc Want of the Canarsie Improvement Association. “The meeting showed us that Canarsie was on the back burner. The petition of over 6,000 signatures given to Mayor de Blasio demanding ferry service made no impact.”

The city’s decision to create a ferry stop in Coney Island, but not at Canarsie Pier, came after a months long study by the Economic Development Corporation, the city agency that oversees the waterborne transportation system

Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie) criticized that study, saying it was conducted in a way unfavorable to the neighborhood.

“People want what they want. I thought the EDC people were forthcoming, but they didn’t do the kind of study that the people of Canarsie thought they we going to,” Maisel said.

Officials called ferry trips from Canarsie Pier to Manhattan impractical for the approximately 2,000 people who make the trip daily, because speedier alternatives already exist, estimating a 65-minute travel time to Battery Park City using alternative public transportation.

Want pointed to the limited options of transportation in the neighborhood — which are often in a state of disrepair — and accused city reps of failing to do proper due diligence.

“It was obvious that no one actually took a train or interviewed any of the riders from Canarsie,” he said. “Most Canarsie residents have to take a bus or drive to a train stop.”

City reps also contended that a potential Canarsie Pier ferry stop would only service a limited number of people. Maisel, who attended the meeting, argued their projected ridership was inaccurate.

“There’s that old saying, ‘If you build it they will come.’ Maybe this is what we need,” the councilman said. “But now, we just need to convince the city. I think it should be included.”

One major logistical concern city officials presented involved legal access to the pier, which is currently operated by the National Parks services, a federal government agency.

Maisel acknowledged the challenges with getting permission to use the dock, and vowed to work to work with federal reps to secure future approval, in the event that the city chooses to expand ferry service further.

“We could stand on our heads from today until next year, but it’s not going to happen on this go around. But, it’s going to come up again, because the city is going to select more sites,” he said. “In the meantime, what should be done is to work with the National Parks Service in advance of the possibility of getting a ferry stop there next time around, in two or three years. That would be done through the office of Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.”

Want vowed to continue the fight to ensure Canarsie Pier would be among the next locations selected by the city for ferry access.

“We are going to address this with our political representatives and demand a proper evaluation with collaboration of neighborhood residents,” he said.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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