Call it ferry good news for Coney commuters!
Coney Island will receive a long sought after stop on the city’s ferry service as part of a new South Brooklyn express route to Manhattan, Mayor DeBlasio announced on Thursday.
“We’ll connect Coney Island to lower Manhattan,” Hizzoner said during his state of the city address delivered on the distant isle.
The city tentatively plans to build the dock near the mouth of Coney Island Creek at W. 33rd Street and Bayview Ave., according to Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman Stephanie Baez, who said ferries originating in Coney will stop in Bay Ridge, before sailing to Wall Street’s Pier 11 — a trip she estimated will take a little less than 40 minutes dock-to-dock.
NYC Ferry service to and from the People’s Playground should begin by 2021, and when it does, the system’s current South Brooklyn route — which sails from Bay Ridge to Sunset Park, Red Hook, Brooklyn Heights, and Dumbo before heading to Manhattan, with weekend stops at Governors Island — will eliminate both the Bay Ridge stop, which will become part of express line between Coney and Manhattan, and the Dumbo stop, which will become part of the East River route.
The news is “another great victory” for Coney Island, according to its Councilman Mark Treyger, who pushed for a local stop since the first batch of citywide routes debuted in May 2017, and said the new boats will ease the commutes of neighborhood residents and summer tourists alike.
“From day one, I made public transportation improvements a top priority, and the expansion of the NYC Ferry system to Coney Island is a major step forward for Southern Brooklyn’s students, working families, seniors, and the millions from across New York City and beyond who visit the iconic People’s Playground and Riegelmann Boardwalk every year,” Treyger said.
DeBlasio’s announcement came months after locals last fall demanded the city include Coney in its latest study of where to expand the ferry system, and more than a year after Hizzoner promised residents that officials would look into adding a stop in the neighborhood during a 2017 town hall there.
Coney Islanders for years pushed for a local stop, arguing a nautical commute would improve access to jobs and education citywide for residents who otherwise must trek to the Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue and West Eighth Street-New York Aquarium stations to catch the D, F, N, and Q lines — a trip that requires a bus ride for locals living in Coney’s West End, where the tentative plan calls for building the new Coney ferry dock.
The city first floated launching a ferry service in 2012, when officials suggested creating a Coney Island Creek stop at a derelict fishing pier at Kaiser Park — a few blocks east of the newly announced tentative site. But officials ultimately rejected the creek location, saying it was too far from the amusement district.
The 2012 study also proposed a stop at W. Eighth Street near the New York Aquarium and Steeplechase Pier, off the Boardwalk near W. 16th Street, which it then called it the ideal mooring location for ferries.
But the proposal to dock there came with a couple of conditions, including the construction of a $20-million bulwark at the Steeplechase Pier to control choppy ocean waves, and further study of the site found that even after construction, the operation would hemorrhage money, according to officials.
A year later, a group called the Friends of Coney Island Creek Ferry and Landing proposed another dock location deeper inside the creek, at W. 21st Street and Neptune Avenue — where they set sail on a test run in a bid to get officials to consider the site, which Borough President Adams endorsed in a December 2017 statement supporting the re-zoning of a nearby block.
Local environmentalists, however, argued that the dock should go elsewhere, claiming that the filthy creek is already filled with derelict boats, debris, and toxic waste — which they noted would have to be regularly dredged — and that a dock at W. 21st Street and Neptune Ave. would interfere with recreational use of the channel.
But Adams, who cheered the news of the forthcoming Coney ferry, said he still believes that location is the best spot for the new dock following the mayor’s announcement.
“The expansion of NYC Ferry service to Coney Island is a milestone achievement, a common-sense solution that affirms our years of advocacy on behalf of transit-starved residents on the West End and small businesses that depend on tourist activity,” the beep said. “I will continue conversations with NYCEDC and the Coney Island community on the location of a dedicated landing, which I have called for siting along Coney Island Creek at West 21st Street.”
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