Airy-ferry: Red Hookers say city’s planned ferry stop is impractical

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They’re looking for a sea change.

The city should jetty-son its plan to open a new commuter ferry stop on the southern edge of Red Hook and drop anchor in Atlantic Basin instead, say locals.

Officials intend to send ferries to either the privately-owned Van Brunt Street pier or the city-owned parkland Valentino Pier when the city expands its ferry services in 2017. But those sites are out of walking distance for many Red Hookers, not close enough to transit, and lack parking, critics said.

“The two locations you have picked — unless they can take their car, fold it up, and put it in their briefcase — there is no parking,” said Jerry Armer, who is a member of Community Board 6, which encompasses Red Hook.

Instead, locals are floating their own plan to open the dock in Atlantic Basin, in the corner closest to Conover Street, which they said has a giant parking lot and is closer to more Hook homes.

“If you draw a half-mile radius, you can cover pretty much all of Red Hook within three blocks of this corner,” said area business owner Jim Tampakis, one of several locals who advocated for an Atlantic Basin stop at an information session about the ferry on Thursday night.

But the city says their alternate vision doesn’t hold water — the Coast Guard shuts down the entire area around the Port Authority-owned basin whenever cruise ships dock there so the international visitors can go through customs, which would restrict public access to the basin and the ferry for about 30 days a year, said a spokeswoman.

“This is a commuter service — this is something that we hope and expect that people will be able to rely on every day to get to work so we can’t have a site [closed] that several days a year,” said Justine Johnson of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is oversees the city’s ferry services.

Boats in the basin also have to move slowly enough so that they don’t leave a wake, which would drag down travel times, she said.

The Red Hook post is one of five stops the city is adding to the Brooklyn waterfront as part of a $55-million ferry expansion that it will begin rolling out in 2017, and officials are unlikely to change course from the Van Brunt Street and Valentino piers so close to the launch, said Economic Development Corporation asset manager Peter Flynt.

But if it can ever figure out a way to make an Atlantic Basin stop feasible, the ferry landing — a floating barge — would be easy enough to move, he said.

“If we had a crane on site, we could move it in a matter of three to seven days,” said Flynt.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

MJ from Bay Ridge says:
why not bring back Bay Ridge-Staten Island route.
Aug. 24, 2015, 7:52 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it doesn't matter because almost no one is going to pay money to ride a ferry to a subway where they will pay money again.

Ferries are not a real transit option. We have leaders who believe in fairytales though, so we get ferries.
Aug. 24, 2015, 8:44 am
hooky from red hook says:
Someone brought a letter from the Coast Guard saying that the security procedures can be modified to allow the ferry to continue to operate when the cruise ship is docked, so the EDC is just blowing wind. They have clearly made up their mind on this and don't want to entertain alternates. FYI, the "city-owned" Valentino pier is a PARK. It's right in the middle of a waterfront park. The pier is a recreational fishing pier that the EDC wants to give over to a private ferry company. There is NO offstreet parking in the area. Street parking is limited because there are a lot of industrial businesses that use large trailers and the street parking is restricted to commercial use during the day. This is one of the worst EDC proposals I've heard of. The Atlantic Basin is the only sensible location for a ferry terminal.
Aug. 24, 2015, 8:54 am
Rob from NY says:
Parking? This is Brooklyn, not Hicksville. Please place good city blocks with plenty of stores and apartments above. Travel to the ferry terminal should be by foot, bike, or bus.
Aug. 24, 2015, 10:12 am
stairbob from brooklyn says:
These ferries could be a great deal for NYC if they allow bicycles on board. This would potentially solve the "last mile" problem for a lot of New Yorkers.
Aug. 24, 2015, 10:16 am
David from Sunset Park says:
What "should be" and what will happen are often two different things. People have cars, they'll drive.
100's of people drive to Industry City every day even though there's a subway a few blocks away. If a ferry stop is added to the army terminal, I guarantee you a lot of people will drive to it.
Aug. 24, 2015, 10:30 am
AA from Red Hook says:
The ferry will eventually integrate into the MTA's system, so it will be one swipe, free transfer from bus, subway, etc. The MetroCard system is being phased out and doesn't have the capacity to absorb the ferry service data, so that's why it's not being integrated right now. In a new MTA system the ferries will be integrated. The EDC is asking for Gov's Island to be included in this new Bay Ridge, Sunset Park (Industry City), Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park (Pier 6), DUMBO, Pier 11/Wall St route. If that's the case, parking would come in handy, especially on weekends when the bus is not as frequent. Bicycles are allowed on board. And, yes, Atlantic Basin would be the best location, for many reasons. Note to Max Jaeger - the building that extends from Van Brunt Street is called the "Beard Street Warehouse" - the EDC wants to place the ferry landing at the end of that structure. Thanks for the article!
Aug. 24, 2015, 1:15 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Is there a worse idea out there than having scarce MTA fare money going toward subsidizing the wildly inefficient ferries? That's even worse than adding a Governor's Island stop making everyone's trip even longer.

But ferries are not real transportation and it doesn't really matter if an extra stop is added. Or five extra stops. That's why the very worst idea would be having money siphoned off from the real transportation system to subsidize this illusion of a transportation system.
Aug. 24, 2015, 2:25 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
A man worries sometimes. He worries whether or not people are going to think that he's looking to start some kind of trouble, here on this message board. Sometimes that man is myself, John Wasserman. What I wanted to say here is that I see a whole lot of speculation, and not quite enough action. Are we all missing the point? Indeed we are, if it's okay that I say so.
Please enjoy the remainder of the day as best as you know how.
John Wasserman
Aug. 24, 2015, 5:51 pm
what businesses? from old Brooklyn says:
So silly that anyone would mention businesses in that area of Red Hook anymore, as they're mostly all gone and what's left is simply the remaining crumbs soon to be cleared once Estate 4 breaks ground.

All these complainers are doing is trying to keep Valentino Pier for themselves. Their private little hideaway. However, it's public and as such is an ideal spot.

Atlantic Basin is too far removed and inaccessible.

Van Brunt St makes even less sense as there's too much traffic there already.
Aug. 25, 2015, 5:29 am
AA from Red Hook says:
There are plenty of businesses close to Atlantic Basin including restaurants, bars, chocolate makers, coffee roasters, catering companies, furniture makers, specialty stores, etc. Atlantic Basin (pier 11) is closer to much of Red Hook's population, including the 7000 people in public housing who would be thrilled to have another affordable way to get to Manhattan, or the rest of South Brooklyn that access jobs and be more mobile, with commute times reduced by up to 40 minutes.

Here are some comparative walk distances from Red Hook Houses to transit options (including Valentino Pier, if that does end up being the location of the ferry stop). Atlantic Basin / Pier 11 compares very favorably.

WALKING from Red Hook Houses TO ATLANTIC BASIN/ Pier 11 versus Smith W 9 St Subway:

Walk time is about the same for:

(North-central) Hicks & Mill- Red Hook East Houses Subway is 1 minute closer (11 vs 12 minutes).

Subway is a little closer for:

(Southeast) Henry & Lorraine- Red Hook East Houses 3 minutes (12 vs 15 minutes)

Subway is closer for:

(Northeast) Clinton & West 9th- Red Hook East Houses 8 minutes (7 vs 15 minutes)

Atlantic Basin is closer for the following locations:

Comparative walking distances from other Red Hook Houses locations to Atlantic Basin/ Pier 11 vs other options:

(Northwest) Richards & Wolcott- Red Hook West Houses
Pier 11 = 0.401 mi, 7 Minutes
Valentino Pier = 0.484 mi, 9 Minutes
Ikea Express Shuttle = 0.526 mi, 10 Minutes Smith - 9 Sts = 1.04 mi, 20 Minutes

(Southwest) Dwight & Verona- Red Hook West Houses
Pier 11 = 0.465 mi, 8 Minutes
Valentino Pier = 0.841 mi, 16 Minutes
Ikea Express Shuttle = 0.658 mi, 12 Minutes Smith - 9 Sts = 0.705 mi, 14 Minutes

(South-central) Columbia & Lorraine- Red Hook Houses
Pier 11 = 0.635 mi, 12 Minutes
Valentino Pier = 0.724 mi, 13 Minutes
Ikea Express Shuttle = 0.487 mi, 9 Minutes Smith - 9 Sts = 0.789 mi, 15 minutes

(North-central) Hicks & Mill- Red Hook East Houses
Pier 11 = 0.673 mi, 12 Minutes
Valentino Pier = 0.910 mi, 17 Minutes
Ikea Express Shuttle = 0.726 mi, 13 Minutes Smith - 9 Sts = 0.595 mi, 11 Minutes

(Southeast) Henry & Lorraine- Red Hook East Houses
Pier 11 = 0.817 mi, 15 Minutes
Valentino Pier = 0.906 mi, 17 Minutes
Ikea Express Shuttle = 0.735 mi, 14 Minutes Smith - 9 Sts = 0.605 mi, 12 Minutes

(Northeast) Clinton & West 9th- Red Hook East Houses
Pier 11 = 0.818 mi, 15 Minutes
Valentino Pier = 1.14 mi, 21 Minutes
Ikea Express Shuttle = 0.958 mi, 18 Minutes Smith - 9 Sts = 0.353 mi, 7 Minutes
Aug. 25, 2015, 5:19 pm
Wanda from Planet Earth says:
Let's bring back sailboats, because I don't think electric batteries are really much better than diesel.
Aug. 25, 2015, 9:12 pm
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Southside, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, United States says:
This shows that there is a lack of positive communication between the city and the general public. The city should focus more on the overall feedback from their people through important dialogue than just put the proposed ferry system into place and shouted "full speed ahead." To paraphrase a famous NYC transit blogger, I am "ferry" skeptical, no pun intended. Some issues: 1) The projected ridership could be less than anticipated, even though the overall fare costs the same as the base fare of the Metrocard; and 2) Speaking of the costs, the overall operating costs per passenger will be huge from the start. The city should propose the stops that are close to: 1) Commerical, educational, retail as well as residential buildings; and 2) Transit centers.
Sept. 12, 2015, 9:17 am

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