Bring ferries to transit deserts: Councilman Vacca

A rendering of the type of ferry that will service Soundview and other stops in the city from the stern and portside.
Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

Residents in waterfront communities, sometimes called ‘transit deserts’, continue to look for public transportation options that benefit their commute.

A ferry service planned for Soundview should be operational by 2018, with the NYC Economic Development Corporation reporting recently that construction of the ferry boats is now underway.

Meanwhile, Councilman James Vacca, whose district ultimately was not part of the NYEDC’s latest ferry expansion, said that he is still advocating for ferry service between Throggs Neck and City Island, Manhattan-bound transit deserts.

“The New York City Economic Development Corporation has recommended a ferry dock but only for Soundview,” said Vacca. “This is something that I have spoken personally to the mayor about and to his people…and I am urging them to reconsider the waterfront at City Island and Throggs Neck.”

Vacca said a ferry connection to Manhattan has been a dream of his since the 1980s.

The councilman also noted that under Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, ferry stops were added but were concentrated in booming areas of Brooklyn that have mass transit train access to Manhattan, and not in more remote communities.

“When you talk about ferry service you have to look at Throggs Neck, City Island, the Rockaways, these far-flung areas need ferry service,” said Vacca, adding “We have a vast unused waterfront here; I think it is economically feasible: we have the land and the need, so I think we only need investment from the city.”

The councilman said he would continue to push the de Blasio administration and NYCEDC to expand into the 13th City Council district.

Supporting the ferry or waterbus service for City Island is Laura Clemente, who recently moved to the new On the Sound development off Fordham Street.

Clemente, a real estate agent affiliated with McClellan/Sotheby’s in Pelham, is the listing broker for the new development, reached out to Vacca advocating an expansion of the service because she believes that the long commute to Manhattan is dampening sales.

She also believes it could revive the island’s commercial shopping area that currently has numerous vacant storefronts.

“If people from Manhattan could come and spend a day, rent a bicycle or a kayak, and go out to dinner, I think they would come to City Island,” she said.

Barbara Dolensek, City Island Civic Association board member, said she believes research would have to be done concerning how many people would use a ferry and as to where it would dock.

One possible place, she said, would be a city Department of Transportation ferry dock at the end of Fordham Street currently used only for Hart Island.

“It is an interesting idea,” she said, adding “But I just don’t think it has legs at the moment.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
One of the ferries under construction that is part of the planned citywide expansion that includes the Soundview stop.
Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

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