Peer-to-pier: City asks public to suggest sites for new ferry service

Ferry nice spot: Locals say that Canarsie Pier is a popular spot in the summer, but is nearly abandoned for most of the year, and adding a commuter-ferry stop would promote year-round usage.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Turns out the mayor’s promise was a ferry tale after all.

Mayor DeBlasio spent the past two years assuring Canarsie residents that their neighborhood would definitely be considered when the city looked at sites for new ferry stops, but the agency spearheading the study says that there actually isn’t a list of contenders, and it will be relying on suggestions from the public to decide what sites to include.

People have until Oct. 15 to make suggestions to the city’s Economic Development Corporation through an online form, before the agency will decide which sites to include in the 2018 ferry feasibility study.

The study will consider water depths, population density, existing transit access, and travel-time comparisons between existing transit modes.

There is no list of possible sites yet, according to a spokeswoman for the agency, because the study process is in the first stage, when agency officials gather input from the public and meet with politicians and community board reps from along the waterfront.

This contradicts Mayor DeBlasio, who said on two occasions last month that Canarsie is one of the sites that the city would include in the study.

“This is the year of decision and Canarsie is clearly in the mix of sites we’re looking at around the city,” Hizzoner told a roundtable of Brooklyn media at Borough Hall on Thursday Aug. 23.

He also told a town hall in Canarsie that same day, hosted by councilman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie), that ferry service to Canarsie Pier would be included in the study.

“I have heard loud and clear from the councilman and other folks that you want us to consider ferry service for this community,” he told the crowd on Aug. 23. “The least I can tell you is this, Canarsie is on the finalist list for consideration for new ferry services and that final decision will be made this year.”

These statements follow a similar promise Hizzoner made two years ago, when he was hammered with demands for ferry service from Canarsie residents at a 2016 town hall.

The local community has been vocal on the issue since the original 2013 study that decided the stops for the expanded citywide ferry service. That study evaluated Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay — neither of which were considered viable — but completely ignored Canarsie Pier.

One Canarsie advocate who has led the charge for ferry service said his neighbors need to make their voices heard by answering the city’s call for suggestions.

“The public should jump on it and start putting in requests for Canarsie,” said Marc Want from the Canarsie Improvement Association, which started a petition for the ferry service more than a year ago.

Want said that ferry service between Canarsie and Manhattan would not only help locals commute to work, but also offer easier access to the recently announced Shirley Chisholm State Park, set to take shape around Jamaica Bay.

“This is not just going to service people from Canarsie but also people coming from Long Island who drive in at the L train stop. We will also have the largest state park open in East New York next year so a ferry will make that more accessible,” he said.

The pier is a popular spot for fishing during the summer months and for picnics on the weekends, according to Want. But most of the year it is under-utilized and adding ferry service would make it a year-round destination, he said.

“Nine months out of the year, the pier is mostly empty. If you go there around mid-September there may be four-five cars parked there, so the usage is minimal. So in order to increase the usage of the pier and accommodate the public, it makes sense to do it,” he said.

Make your suggestion for a new ferry stop at: www.nycedc.com/resources/studies/2018-ferry-feasibility-study.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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