BY JON CRONIN
The New York City Economic Development Corp., in conjunction with consultants and other city agencies, unveiled plans on June 4 for a ferry terminal at Hallet’s Cove in Astoria, part of the de Blasio administration’s expansion of ferry service slated to begin in 2017.
The plans were showed to the public at a town hall meeting at the First Reformed Church of Astoria on 12th Street, hosted by Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria).
“Ferry service is going to be a game changer,” Constantinides said at the opening of the meeting, adding that it would, “revitalize the waterfront.”
Riders would board the ferry for the cost of a MetroCard, Constantinides announced to much applause.
“It’s an opportunity to change how your commute goes,” he added.
Currently, Astoria residents have a 30-minute crowded subway ride, after a lengthy walk for those that live near the water, to Midtown Manhattan and the ferry will save time and add comfort to that commute, especially for those living near the waterfront – a long walk from the subway.
Calling the proposed terminal “a dynamic space on the waterfront,” Constantinides said he hopes the revitalization will be educational for the community’s children in the fields of chemistry, biology and the environment. He also looks to include a new walkway from Astoria Park to Socrates Sculpture Park.
James Wong, a Parsons Brinckeroff consultant for the project, said five new routes in total will be in the ferry service and “save about 15 minutes on a commute to Wall Street.” He said they estimate the ferry will be used by 600 people a day by 2025, with minimal impact from drivers, as it forecasts only 10 commuters will drive to the ferry.
The latter comment was a focus of skepticism in the community members present.
Jean Marie Dalleva, a ferry dock neighbor, said, “I have no doubt they are underestimating the amount of cars,” Dalleva said. “Parking around here is already bad.”
Wong said they believe most ferry riders would be within walking distance of the ferry.
After the meeting, the audience broke up into groups and the presenters made themselves available for questions.
Although she didn’t hear anything to alleviate her parking fears, Dalleva said she was enthusiastic about the new development in her neighborhood.
Wong noted that fishing is popular on the western side of the cove, and will not be disturbed by the ferry. The ferry approach will have a “no wake policy” he said and will not disturb the kayaks in the proposed new boathouse 265 feet away from the ferry dock.
Ekaterina Papaioannou, an Astoria resident, said she is happy with the ferry coming to her neighborhood and plans to ride her bike there and take it on the ferry to Manhattan, but she was concerned the ferry would bring pollution to a cove that took some time to clean up.
Assistant Vice President of Government and Community Relations of the NYCEDC Keith Dumanski, stated the ferry service will not come on line until there is a complete investigation done by the Environmental Protection Agency. Even with that notification, Papaioannou was concerned.
Peter Anderson, an Astoria resident who lives within five minutes of the ferry dock, was concerned with the parking situation. He noted that recently many new buildings have gone up within a five-block radius of 31st Avenue and parking has become a premium. Anderson inquired about creating parking specifically for residents, but was told there is legislation in place that prevents it.
Dumanski said after the presentation that later this year they will have a similar community unveiling of plans for ferry service in the Rockaways.
The city also plans to expand ferry service to Roosevelt Island, Southern Brooklyn and Soundview in The Bronx in phases through 2018.