Jan. 11, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
The NYC Economic Development Corp. is pausing its plans to demolish the existing ferry terminal at Hunter Points South Park and is reevaluating its plans to construct a replacement dock 150 feet away in front of the main boardwalk by the Oval.
The EDC, which oversees the city’s ferry routes, had been looking to begin construction of the new terminal in the fall of 2023, which would see a large docking barge built about 150 feet north of the existing site. Two boats would be able to dock at the barge.
The current ferry terminal, known as Hunters Point South, needs to be dismantled since it is coming to the end of its useful life, according to the EDC. The terminal is located in front of the beach volleyball court near the waterfront café.
The EDC says it is unable to replace the current structure—at its existing location—as the new terminal needs to be much bigger and would require several piles to be driven into the seabed, which poses a danger to the tunnels underneath.
The EDC filed plans in October to build the new dock in front of the main boardwalk. The organization said the site was the most practical location to put the new structure.
However, the EDC says it is now halting those plans while it considers alternative sites along the waterfront for the new ferry terminal, a spokesperson for the organization told the Queens Post Tuesday. It is unclear how long the plans are being put on hold.
The news comes after residents and local stakeholders have argued that a new ferry structure built at the site in front of the boardwalk — and its docked boats — would block the waterfront views, a key feature of the park. Community Board 2, in a recommendation to the EDC, voted against the plan in December.
Queens Council Member Julie Won, who opposes the proposed location, met with representatives from EDC at Hunters Point South Park Friday and they conducted a walking tour of the waterfront to examine alternative sites for the new dock.
They were joined by representatives from the Parks Dept., Queens Community Board 2 (CB2) Transportation Committee, the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy (HPPC), and Frank Ottomanelli, who owns the local waterfront café called Frank Ottomanelli’s.
“EDC’s initial proposal for the new Hunters Point South ferry landing is a non-starter for our community,” Won said in a statement to the Queens Post.
“Our neighbors have made it clear that building this new ferry landing 150 feet north of the existing site would create unwanted noise pollution in an already busy area and block the natural beauty of the New York City skyline.”
Won also said that the proposed new ferry terminal would interfere with the park, noting that it is used by three local schools for recess and other recreational activities.
During the walking tour, attendees identified two locations at Hunters Point South Park as potential sites for a new ferry terminal, Won said.
One location is south of the current terminal at the Hunter’s Point South Park Extension, a sloped turf area also known as the Luminescence that contains several moon-shaped concrete rocks.
The second location is the kayak ramp at the southernmost section of the park, located in front of the new Gotham Point Development.
Attendees also discussed the possibility of merging the current ferry terminal with the Long Island City ferry terminal at Gantry Plaza State Park.
The decision by the EDC to explore alternative sites marks a shift from what the organization told CB2 in its December monthly meeting.
The EDC told board members that alternative locations at Hunters Point South Park had already been considered and were ultimately rejected for being impractical.
Sites to the south of the proposed location — where the Luminescence is situated — were found to be too soft or too narrow, the EDC said at the meeting in December.
Meanwhile, sites at Newtown Creek — where the kayak ramp is situated — were also deemed incompatible due to its superfund status and having a federal navigational channel, the EDC said last month.
Nevertheless, the EDC says it is now taking a more extensive look into the new locations for the proposed ferry terminal. It is unclear how long the process will take.
“We are continuing to explore solutions for the Hunters Point South ferry landing renovation and are considering alternative sites,” said Jeff Holmes, a spokesperson for the EDC.
“This ferry stop is an important resource for a growing population in Long Island City and the NYC Ferry system at-large. [The EDC] values input from the community, and has committed to ongoing engagement and communication, to ensure efforts support the entire neighborhood as we work to maintain NYC Ferry service for Hunters Point South.”
The news that the EDC is exploring alternative sites was welcomed by Ottomanelli, whose waterfront café is situated next to the current ferry terminal.
Ottomanelli is against constructing the new terminal in front of the boardwalk as he believes it would negatively impact the park.
He said that the EDC’s proposed site is directly in front of the large picnic areas that he recently refurbished and maintains as part of his operating license with the city for the café.
He said that part of his responsibilities in operating the café was to renovate the area and maintain the park’s beauty. Ottomanelli took over the license to the café last summer.
“The new proposed ferry station in my opinion will change all aspects of what the park itself has to offer,” Ottomanelli said.
Meanwhile, Rob Basch, the president of the HPPC, said that his group is against the plan because the new terminal would hamper the views of the Manhattan skyline.
The HPPC, he said, agrees and understands that a larger ferry station is still needed to service the area. The group, however, was pleased to hear that the EDC is looking at alternative sites.
Basch said Friday’s meeting was productive and praised the EDC for listening to attendees’ concerns.
“The meeting was very positive overall,” Basch said. “The EDC was very receptive and didn’t take a hard line.”
Yesterday, our team attended a walkthrough at the ferry landing site in Hunters Point Park with members of @NYCEDC, @NYCParks, @QueensCB2 Transportation Committee, and @LICWaterfront. We proposed long-term solutions & design alternatives for the ferry, (1/2) pic.twitter.com/LfgT1yBJaR
— Council Member Julie Won (@CMJulieWon) January 8, 2023