They’re exploring the shore.
The city is considering a 10-block swath of Coney Island Creek as planners determine where in the waterway is the best place to drop a ferry dock, according to leaders of the agency that oversees the NYC Ferry system.
Officials with the Economic Development Corporation are surveying the shoreline between W. 23rd and W. 33rd streets to determine the best spot for a berth within that stretch, a senior project manager at the agency told locals at a Feb. 19 meeting of local Community Board 13.
“We’re looking at a range … we’re going to do our due diligence and figure out where is best within that,” said Doug Rose.
In January, Mayor DeBlasio announced the city would sail commuter ships from Coney in his annual State of the City address. Later that month, Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman Stephanie Báez said officials are considering building the berth in the “general area” around W. 31st Street and Bayview Avenue, near the Kaiser Park fishing pier. Officials specifically marked that site and another just outside the park at W. 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue — which are separated by the sand spit — as possible dock locations in the feasibility study released by the economic agency following Hizzoner’s announcement.
And at the recent joint meeting of CB13’s Transportation and Environmental committees, Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island) said the landing will more likely end up somewhere near Kaiser Park, which spans W. 23rd–W. 32nd streets between Neptune and Bayview avenues, rather than near the tentative W. 33rd Street location, due to the adjacent sand spit — a claim that two economic agency reps confirmed on the spot.
“According to the most up-to-date analysis, because of the sandbar at that location, that Bayview corridor is not ideal, and it’ll likely move closer to that Kaiser Park location,” Treyger said.
Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus (D–Coney Island) also hoped agency honchos would decide against installing the dock on the W. 33rd Street side of the sand spit, expressing concerns about how a landing there might affect locals who live on Bayview Avenue.
“I want the ferry in Coney Island — do I think that W. 33rd Street and Bayview is the ideal location? Absolutely not, it’s not a first choice,” Frontus said at the meeting.
The ferry-feasibility study notes that building a berth on either side of the sand spit needs “careful consideration as shifting sands, fog, and high winds would be an ongoing challenge to maintaining safe and reliable operations here.”
But NYC Ferry are keeping those challenges in mind as they study possible sites, according to Rose, who added that they are also considering locals’ concerns about accessibility and potential quality-of-life issues as they work to determine a dock location.
Still, Coney Islanders at the meeting alleged the cons of building a dock on either side of the sand spit would outweigh the pros of bringing ferry service to the neighborhood, with the co-chairwoman of CB13’s Environmental Committee worrying that landings there would bring even more traffic to Bayview Avenue.
“There’s an issue with transportation and parking over there — on a regular basis, it’s already backed up,” said Selena Grant. “I’m for the ferry, I question the location.”
Starting ferry service would likely mitigate some of that traffic, according to Treyger, who said the end of the creek near the sand spit is the peninsula’s only option for accommodating big boats, due to the more shallow waters further up Coney Island Creek.
“If you’re opposed to having it in the western end of the peninsula … are folks suggesting that we don’t have a ferry?” he said.
But another local argued the dock should be built further up the creek near W. 21st Street — a location Borough President Adams endorsed when calling for ferry service in Coney back in 2017 — in order to prompt the city to clean out more of the waterway to make way for the service.
“I want to see it at W. 21st Street — let’s clean up Coney Island Creek,” said Jeff Sanoff, co-chairman of CB13’s Environmental Committee.
Creating a landing that far up the creek, however, poses additional challenges, Rose told the committee members — a reality his economic-agency colleague Báez also noted.
The recent meeting was the “first of many conversations” agency reps will have with Coney Islanders, said Economic Development Corporation project manager Wil Fisher. And Báez added that reps would likely return to the People’s Playground for more discussions sometime in April or May.
And Treyger committed to sharing his constituents’ concerns about the various berth locations as the process unfolds, but warned that the dock debate should not come at the expense of the ferry service itself.
“My personal view is that the benefits of the ferry service to this peninsula are significant, and we should not throw away this very special and rare opportunity,” he said. “But we have to get it right.”