Scuttled! Mayor cancels meeting with Canarsie ferry boosters

Canarsie residents start petition demanding ferry stop
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

He left them high and dry.

Mayor DeBlasio abruptly backed out of a planned meeting to receive some 6,000 signatures calling for a ferry stop at Canarsie Pier on Dec. 14.

“He cancelled on us at the last minute,” said Marc Want of the Canarsie Improvement Association, who launched the petition, and was planning to travel across the borough to Greenwood Heights to meet with the mayor and present him with the petition signatures before a town hall meeting at MS 88 that evening.

The petition 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.”

The cancelled meeting is par for the course for Canarsie’s ferry boosters, who have struggled to hold the mayor to a promise he made to them more than a year ago.

At a town hall meeting in September 2016, Mayor DeBlasio promised to consider establishing the ferry stop in the neighborhood in response to worries about the L train’s pending closure. 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 the local pol wants to make sure Hizzoner sees the results soon.

“We want to get it done. It’s a lot of work to assemble 6,000 petitions,” said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Canasie), adding that he’s working on setting up a new meeting with the mayor this week.

The mayor’s office did not return a call for comment and rescheduling the meeting, but the ferry activists are undeterred.

“We’ll keep fighting,” said Want.

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at aluce[email protected]nglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.