On notice: Canarsie ferry boosters hand mayor 6,000 signatures

Canarsie residents start petition demanding ferry stop
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Six thousand Canarsie residents can’t be wrong.

Members of the Canarsie Improvement Association finally met with Mayor DeBlasio on Dec. 20 to hand him a petition bearing more than 6,000 signatures of locals demanding their own stop as part of the citywide ferry service.

Association head Marc Want and other members, along with state Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D–Canarsie) and Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie), journeyed all the way to Fort Greene on Wednesday, where were granted a brief audience with Hizzoner just minutes before a town hall at the Ingersoll Community Center.

“It went very well,” said Want. “We’re grateful to our representatives for setting it up.”

And securing a meeting to hand off the signatures has not been easy. DeBlasio left them high and dry last week when he abruptly backed out of an earlier planned meeting before a town hall in Greenwood Heights on Dec. 14.

“He cancelled on us at the last minute,” said Marc Want.

The petition the association finally handed the mayor on Wednesday calls for a ferry stop in Canarsie that will bring commuters to Manhattan as a way to mitigate disruption during the planned 18-month shutdown of the L train tunnel, which links the neighborhood to the distant isle.

“About 120,000 people take the L from Brooklyn. Putting a ferry here will alleviate that,” said Want. “Four ferries in an hour can take as many people as a train can.”

At a town hall meeting in September 2016, Mayor DeBlasio promised Canarsie residents that he would consider establishing the ferry stop in the neighborhood. Earlier that year, Borough President Adams co-authored an op-ed in Crain’s calling for a stop there, pointing out that the citywide ferry service’s 2018 extension to the Rockaways would send ferries right past Canarsie anyway.

“I’m not going to commit to it yet, but I will bring it back to City Hall as we discuss the build-out and will put Canarsie on the table as well,” DeBlasio told the crowd at the town hall 15 months ago.

But since then, Want and his fellow frustrated ferry activists have seen no progress from the city.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation — the agency spearheading the ferry service — admitted to this paper earlier in the year that the city has not made any headway on expanding to Canarsie, but pledged it would be included in the next possible study.

— though that won’t happen until after the service’s initial rollout is complete in 2018, making it unlikely that a new stop can be added in time for the 2019 shutdown of the L train.

Canarsie residents are trying to hurry the process along with the petition drive, and Maisel is glad Hizzoner now has concrete evidence of local demand for the service.

“Now they need to study it,” said Maisel. “I hope he chooses Canarsie, because it’s logical.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.