June 5, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
Plans for the ferry that will bring Astoria residents to Manhattan starting in 2017 were revealed Thursday at a town hall meeting.
According to the City’s Economic Development Corporation, the Astoria Ferry will dock at Hallets Cove–adjacent to Astoria Houses, just west of Goodwill Park, and accessible from 8th Street and Vernon Boulevard.
The ferry will run from Astoria to Roosevelt Island, to Long Island City, to East 34th Street and Wall Street in Manhattan.
The EDC estimates that by 2025, the ferry will serve 600 riders daily from Astoria.
This new route is one of five slated to open between 2017 and 2018 as part of a Citywide ferry plan announced by the Mayor in his State of the City address earlier this year. Funding for the Astoria dock comes through the City’s agreement with developers of the nearby Astoria Cove megaproject.
Overall, the crowd of about 150 appeared satisfied with the EDC’s plans and excited for the ferry’s arrival, although several had reservations about the ferry’s impact on parking in the surrounding neighborhood.
According to the EDC, planners estimate that “fewer than 10” parking spaces will be taken as a result of people driving to ferry dock.
“It’s still not going to work,” Astoria Houses resident Carmen Wynder said. “Go down there right now; you can’t find a parking space.”
“I come off at Hoyt Avenue at 7:30 in the morning and I see people scrambling for parking,” George Marsh, who works at Astoria Houses, said.
Several cited the thousands of apartments slated for the vicinity of the proposed ferry landing, at Astoria Cove and Hallets Point, as cause for concern as demand for the limited number of spaces grows.
Numerous attendees also took issue with the structure of the EDC’s presentation itself.
After EDC representatives gave a slideshow talk on the ferry’s location, rollout and design, they broke into small stations – geared to separate issues such as transportation and design – to speak one-on-one with neighbors. There was no opportunity for a public question-and-answer session.
“I thought that that weakens us as a community. I wasn’t too happy about that,” Vernon Boulevard resident Mayra Mercado said. “It dilutes our voice.”
“When you have a breakout format, you [should] come back together, and one person from each groups shares,” 28th Avenue resident Dominique Perrot said. “I don’t really know what all the issues are.”
Main Avenue resident Lynne Serpe called the breakout sessions “ill-advised,” adding that she was especially disappointed not to be able to speak with the EDC publicly about the ferry’s cost.
A ferry ride will run $2.75 – the cost of a MetroCard swipe. However, as Serpe was told during breakout and the EDC later confirmed for the Astoria Post, this fare is not integrated with the MTA system; riders cannot transfer from the ferry to the subway, for example.
The existing East River Ferry costs $4 per trip on weekdays and $6 on weekends. The Staten Island Ferry to the southern tip of Manhattan is free.
“[My question was] I think something that would have been helpful for everyone to hear,” Serpe said. “I was disappointed that they had us break up into these smaller groups.”
EDC officials said that the breakout session was designed to accommodate questions and feedback from each attendee given the meeting turnout and the project’s scope.
Next steps for the ferry process will include another public hearing during the environmental and permitting phase, according to the EDC.