Testing the waters: Coney Islanders demand city include nabe’s in ferry expansion study

Testing the waters: Coney Islanders demand city include nabe’s in ferry expansion study
Community News Group / Julianne McShane

They’ll fight for a ferry — come hell or high water.

The city must honor Mayor DeBlasio’s promise to consider putting a ferry stop in Coney Island as part of its upcoming feasibility study, locals demanded at an Oct. 3 rally sponsored by the Alliance for Coney Island on the Riegelmann Boardwalk at W. 22nd Street. A ferry stop in the People’s Playground would help connect locals to the distant isle of Manhattan with a better — and faster — alternative than the subway, according to the unofficial “Mayor of Coney Island.”

“For Coney Island, instead of an hour to an hour-and-a-half commute by subway, the idea that something scenic could get here from Manhattan in 20 or 30 minutes is a no-brainer,” said Dick Zigun, who’s also founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow.

At a town hall in the nabe last year, Hizzoner said the city would study the possibility of putting a ferry landing on the peninsula as part of the new study. But the Economic Development Corporation, which is spearheading the study, is instead relying on the public’s suggestions to determine which sites to include in the study. New Yorkers can submit their suggestions through the online form until Oct. 15.

The study will consider factors including water depths, population density, existing transit access, and travel-time comparisons between existing travel options. The first stage of the process will also include meetings with elected officials and community board members from waterfront communities, according to the agency.

Coney Islanders have been complaining about the lack of a ferry stop on their waters since the service launched last year, with residents and pols saying the ferry would help facilitate tourism and the area’s ongoing development. Zigun echoed these assertions at the rally.

“We’re at the end of one of the outer boroughs and we all know that there’s transportation issues in New York City,” he said. “And it’s not just for tourists — there’s a lot of residential housing under construction in Coney Island.”

A 2012 study considered launching a ferry service to Coney, evaluating a derelict fishing pier at W. 21st Street near Neptune Avenue in Coney Island Creek, plus Steeplechase Pier and another ocean dock off of W. Eighth Street. But the city rejected the locations, saying the creek dock would be too far from the amusement district and that the oceanfront stops would be too expensive. The report also concluded that ferry ridership would be seasonal, and “primarily used for recreation rather than by commuters.”

But one local who said she used to trek an hour-and-a-half on the bus from the neighborhood to her job in Manhattan said she would have used the ferry to commute, adding that the ride would have offered a more scenic route for locals than the buses and subways.

“We’re oceanfront, and it would be nice to have a ferry,” said Selena Grant.

Another local agreed that the waterfront community should get a ferry stop, adding that she currently has to rely on the city’s unreliable Access-a-Ride service to get into Manhattan for her appointments, and that she would prefer a more enjoyable ride into the city.

“We need another mode of transportation — every waterfront has a ferry, why not Coney Island?” asked Kumali Zairee. “I love the water, so I’d love the ferry.”

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

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.