Nov. 2, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
The New York City Economic Development Corporation plans to demolish the existing ferry terminal at Hunter Points South Park and build a new dock about 300 feet away in front of the main boardwalk by the Oval.
The EDC, which oversees the city’s ferry routes, filed permits on Oct. 18 to build a floating dock in front of the boardwalk that runs parallel to the outdoor dining area near the Oval. If all goes to plan, the new dock would be completed by 2023.
The new ferry terminal would allow for an expansion of ferry operations at the site with the landing being able to accommodate two ferries simultaneously, according to the permit application. The current terminal can only handle one boat at a time.
The plans would see the construction of a large floating barge about 100 feet out from the boardwalk. Two boats would be able to dock at the barge.
A concrete platform would be built directly adjacent to the boardwalk and a long footbridge, known as a gangway, would then connect the platform to the floating barge.
The new ferry terminal would replace the current landing structure that is located in front of the beach volleyball court. The current terminal, which includes a 20-foot-wide floating barge, would be torn down should the project be approved.
The city has authorized $12.2 million in funding for the project, according to the EDC.
The plans, which were filed with the US Army Corps of Engineers, would bring about significant change to the waterfront. They have already drawn criticism.
For instance, the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, a volunteer group that helps with the upkeep of the waterfront parks, is opposed to the project arguing it would spoil the view of the Manhattan skyline and fill the boardwalk with hundreds of passengers.
The group was also critical of the EDC, saying that it did not consult them about the plans when they were filed last month.
Meanwhile, Councilmember Julie Won, who has been briefed on the plans, said she has not yet taken a position on the matter and is waiting to hear community feedback.
The EDC, despite the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy’s criticism, said that it has conducted outreach.
The EDC said it had notified Won about the plans and said it also informed former Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer about the project when he was in office. Community Board 2 was notified in June, the EDC said.
The EDC said the plans to replace the current terminal were first proposed in 2019 when NYC Ferry, the city’s ferry service, announced it was expanding its city-wide operations, an EDC spokesperson told the Queens Post Wednesday.
The spokesperson said the current floating dock no longer serves its purpose and needs to be removed.
“The Hunters Point South landing is reaching the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced,” the spokesperson said.
The EDC said that the ferry dock had to be moved given the new terminal’s larger size.
A bigger terminal is needed for the area since ridership numbers have increased, the EDC said. For instance, weekday ridership at the current landing is up 40 percent this year while weekend ridership is up 25 percent, the EDC said.
The new terminal will be able to accommodate vessels carrying up to 350 passengers whereas the current ferry dock can only cater to ferries with 150 passengers, the EDC said.
The site of the proposed new terminal was chosen in consultation with the Parks Dept, the EDC said.
The EDC said that a terminal of the size being proposed cannot be constructed safely at the current landing given there are road and rail tunnels running directly under the site.
If the new plans were to be approved, construction could commence as early as fall 2023 and be completed by the end of 2023, the EDC said.
The US Army Corps of Engineers said the decision to issue a permit will be based on a variety of factors including economics, aesthetics, environmental concerns, fish and wildlife values, as well as the needs and welfare of the public.
The agency is currently soliciting feedback from the public on the plans that must be submitted before Nov. 18.
The HPPC has called for a public meeting to take place to ensure that the needs of the community are being taken into account before the plans are approved. The group also wants to make sure the public is aware of the plans.
The group said the new landing would be detrimental to the park as it would block the views of the skyline and the East River from the boardwalk – a major feature that draws many visitors to the park.
“The long promenade… is filled every summer evening by people photographing the sunset, enjoying the atmosphere, and relaxing in a world-class park,” the HPPC said in a statement.
The HPPC is also concerned that the likely expansion of ferry operations at the site would lead to increased noise pollution given boats are required to signal while arriving and departing.
The group is also worried that the construction of the terminal would lead to a loss of seating on the promenade. Additionally, it says the plans fail to mention any proposals about constructing passenger waiting areas and how such structures may impact the boardwalk.
“Hunter’s Point South Park is a jewel designed to welcome people to the waterfront, and that should not be compromised,” the HPPC said. “It is a highlight of Queens and New York City’s Park system and should be protected.”
The EDC said it welcomes any input from the public and said it plans on meeting with the HPPC — and other stakeholders — to discuss the project. The EDC did not say whether it plans to hold a public meeting but did note that the plans will be presented to Community Board 2.
The organization said the next step in the process is for the Parks Dept. to approve the plans.
The EDC will then present near-final designs to Community Board 2 this winter. The plans will then be submitted to the Public Design Commission (PDC) for approval.
All public comments regarding the permit application must be prepared in writing and emailed to [email protected]