Tag Archives: Rockaway Ferry

Goldfeder urging National Grid for plant site usage as new hope arises in fight for ferry service


| slicata@queenscourier.com

File photo

As Mayor de Blasio announced plans for a resumption of ferry service to the Rockaways, local elected officials and community advocates immediately took up the call for community development projects that they say would go hand-in-hand with a ferry — including a proposal for a new parking lot on the site of an old gas plant.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has asked National Grid President Dean Seavers to review and consider community suggestions for uses of a former manufactured gas plant the utility company owns at the corner of Beach 108th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Among the possible uses of the site, could be for a parking lot for the nearby ferry terminal.

“Rarely do we have the opportunity to redevelop such a large site with so much potential to revitalize the community. The Rockaway Park MGP site is a ‘blank slate’ on which we can write the future economic development of the Rockaway Peninsula,” Goldfeder said. “I urge National Grid to consider the community’s suggestions for the site as we work together to put an end to the cycle of blight and decay that Rockaway families have endured for too long.”

Following Superstorm Sandy, Goldfeder secured an agreement from National Grid to allow hundreds of daily Rockaway Ferry commuters to park at the site for what was temporary ferry service. He and residents of Rockaway who are looking for a restoration of the ferry are hoping that the property can once again be used for parking once ferry service resumes.

De Blasio unveiled his proposal for a citywide ferry service during his State of the City speech on Feb. 3.

“Today, we announce that we’re launching a new citywide ferry service to be open for business in 2017,” he said. “New ferry rides will be priced the same as a MetroCard fare, so ferries will be as affordable to everyday New Yorkers as our subways and buses. … so residents of the Rockaways and Red Hook and Soundview will now be closer to the opportunities they need.”

Other politicians on the peninsula talked about how important this restoration would be to the local economy.

“Rockaway has great year-round potential, but its major economic strength is its summer season, which is a time when connecting the peninsula with the remainder of the city would maximize the benefit for all individuals within the city limits,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo. “Right now, the peninsula’s only viable transportation option is a water, ferry service.”

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Having the large National Grid site as an option for parking now comes into play for ferry riders.

“We appreciate that National Grid made their property available for Rockaway residents to park their vehicles to utilize the ferry service,” said Rockaway Ferry advocate Danny Ruscillo. “Our hope is that when National Grid no longer has a need for this property, they take into consideration the community’s interests, including ferry transportation and parking, when finding the best use for the site.”

The former Rockaway Park Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) occupied the 9-acre lot between Beach Channel Drive and the Rockaway Freeway at Beach 108th Street. From the 1880s until the mid-1950s, the site housed gas production and storage facilities operated by the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO). In 1998, the ownership of the site transferred to KeySpan in a merger between LILCO and Brooklyn Union Gas Company.

In a 2006 decision, the state Department of Environmental Conservation ordered KeySpan to begin remedial action to remove toxic waste and contaminated ground soil from the site. National Grid took over cleanup at the site when it bought out KeySpan in 2008 and they are now in their final steps of their efforts.

Goldfeder did not only suggest for the site to be used as a parking lot. He is mainly asking that when National Grid has no more use for the site, they take into consideration what the Rockaway community wants.

“Our families have seen so much destruction in the wake of Superstorm Sandy,” he noted.

“Allowing the community to be a large part of the process in determining the future of the MGP site will send a strong message that the community is not only building back stronger but that our residents have a voice for the future.”

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Queens is ground zero for Mayor de Blasio’s plan to create affordable housing


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photographer/Mayoral Photography Office

Queens is at the center of a sweeping plan to create affordable housing unveiled by Mayor Bill de Blasio in his State of the City speech on Tuesday, including a push to create more than 11,000 new homes above the Sunnyside Rail Yard — a project as large as Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town.

In his second State of the City address, de Blasio reviewed his top accomplishments, including creating full-day pre-kindergarten, doubling the enrollment in after-school programs,  and enacting living wage and paid sick leave. There was also a 75-percent reduction in the use of stop-and-frisk by the NYPD.

Looking forward, de Blasio focused on the issue of housing that remains one of the major obstacles to what he described as opportunity inequality.

The mayor, who called the effort to create affordable housing a “profound challenge,” turned repeatedly to Queens as a large part of the answer. He pledged to write new rules, “ones that mandate affordable housing as a condition for development.”

Two of six neighborhoods in the city he has slated for mandatory affordable housing requirements are Long Island City and western Flushing. Each of the four other boroughs will have one such zone. The city will begin work on rezoning these neighborhoods this spring.

“In every major rezoning development, we will require developers to include affordable housing. Not as an option. As a precondition,” he said, citing another Queens project as an example of how the mandate works.


“Want to see this approach in action?  Look at Astoria Cove in Queens. As a result of this administration’s framework — and the City Council’s tough negotiations — 465 units of affordable housing will be created at this site alone,” de Blasio said.

“That’s 465 families who no longer have to choose between living in the city they call home, or finding another city they can afford. It means that hundreds of kids will live and learn and grow in our city.”

But de Blasio said his “game changer” for new affordable housing would take place at the Amtrak-owned rail yard in Sunnyside, where he is proposing building above the tracks to make use of the massive swath of land while allowing rail operations to continue.

“Right now, there are 200 acres of land in the heart of Queens, land that exists in the form of a rail yard — and only a rail yard. But the fact is, those tracks could easily exist underground — allowing us to build housing — much of it affordable — above them.

“At Sunnyside Yards, we envision a plan that incorporates what diverse and dynamic neighborhoods need — access to transportation, parks, schools, retail stores and job opportunities,” he said.

The mayor compared the potential at Sunnyside to other affordable housing built in the past, including Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town, which has 11,250 apartments. He said Sunnyside should include the same amount of affordable units as the Manhattan complex.

However, according to Patrick O’Brien, chair of Community Board 2, although the goal is admirable, the plan raises some concern because of the lack of infrastructure to support an incoming population. He added the surrounding area would need updates in transportation options, medical services, such as hospitals, and schools.

“Long Island City and western Queens is so densely populated and we’ve gone through and are in the midst of a huge population increase,” O’Brien said. “To have an enormous additional increase on top of a previous increase, that really doesn’t have the full infrastructure support that it needs, is really a matter of concern.”

While de Blasio said he wants to build 80,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade, he insisted that it would not be to the exclusion of market-rate housing. He projects the construction of 160,000 new market-rate units over the same period.

De Blasio said the growing shortage of affordable housing has occurred over more than a decade of housing construction that focused on luxury or market-rate construction. The result, he said, is that 56 percent of New Yorkers are paying more than 30 percent of their salary for rent, up from 46 percent a decade earlier.

“Part of the problem is that the city has for decades let developers write their own rules when it came to building housing. Sometimes projects included affordable housing…but far too often, they did not,” he said. “As the city expanded, our growth was guided primarily by the developers’ bottom lines.”

The mayor also unveiled a stunning proposal to create a new citywide ferry service reaching far flung neighborhoods, particularly the Rockaways, and for expanded express bus service, including a line along Woodhaven Boulevard.

He said that by 2017, residents of neighborhoods like the Rockaways and Astoria, would be able to take a ferry to Manhattan.

“New ferry rides will be priced the same as a MetroCard fare, so ferries will be as affordable to everyday New Yorkers as our subways and buses,” he said. “[S]o residents of the Rockaways and Red Hook and Soundview will now be closer to the opportunities they need.”

The mayor predicted that the new ferry service would also be an economic boon to neighborhoods, spurring new commercial corridors in the outer boroughs.

“We will also expand Bus Rapid Transit — or BRT — serving 400,000 New Yorkers along key thoroughfares like Utica Avenue in Brooklyn and Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens…completing a network of 20 routes over the next four years,” he said.

The new Bus Rapid Transit lines, he said, would cut transit time on existing routes by 15 to 24 percent. “That means New Yorkers spending less time in transit and more time living their lives.”

The mayor insisted that expanding affordable housing could work, and he cited a similar effort by former Mayor Ed Koch.

“But we know now that Koch’s plan was realistic… in fact, it worked,” said de Blasio. “And it had a transcendent impact on our city.“

Photos from the mayor’s speech and of the officials attending the event (By The Queens Courier Staff):

 

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Op-ed: Keep the Rockaway Ferry


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY JOE HARTIGAN

As a lifelong resident of Queens and a 34-year resident of the Rockaways, I would like to emphasize the great potential ferry service will have for Rockaway and the rest of the city.
Since those living in the Rockaways have the longest commute of any NYC residents, it is evident that the ferry service, which was established after Superstorm Sandy, has dramatically improved commuter travel time but is also the only nice thing that has happened to Rockaway since the storm.

The ferry service that was put in place after Superstorm Sandy in Rockaway was done in three days. The Rockaways were very fortunate that Seastreak had the proper vessels available to establish the ferry run after Sandy.

The ferry has cut the commute time from the middle of Rockaway to lower Manhattan by over a half-hour. The ferry service has had an on-time performance of better than 95 percent with not one police incident in the almost two years since it started.

According to the NYC Parks Department, in 2012, Rockaway Beach saw almost 8 million visitors before Superstorm Sandy. Rockaway could become the number one (or two) tourist destination in NYC by improving beach access through better transportation. Rockaway has more visitors than the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History and the Statue of Liberty, to name a few.

In the last week of August, the Rockaway/Brooklyn/Manhattan ferry did 1,300 rides per day. If the R/B/M ferry were free, it would give the Staten Island ferry a run for the top ridership spot.
The ferries would be built in New York State, thus creating jobs. Seastreak would base part of its operations in New York State, therefore creating 50 to 80 permanent jobs in NYC.

The route that I am proposing is JFK Airport-Rockaway-BAT Pier Brooklyn-Wall Street-Roosevelt Island-Astoria-Flushing, LaGuardia Airport and Willets Point Project. If the R/B/M ferry had the same number of ferry runs with the beach traffic and JFK Airport passengers, the ridership number would triple that of the East River ferry.

I am just trying to improve my neighborhood of Rockaway, Queens, by advocating for an overall NYC ferry service which, in turn, will assist in developing all areas of our city.

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Rockaway ferry service no longer funded


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

The city has left Rockaway Ferry service dead in the water.

The $75 billion budget the City Council approved on Thursday had $2 million for the extension of ferry service through October but after that there is no more funding.

“I am severely disappointed in Mayor de Blasio and the Economic Development Corporation for ignoring the transit needs of southern Queens and Rockaway families,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said in a statement after the budget was approved. “Like every other borough in the city, we deserve an affordable, efficient and reliable means of transportation.”

The ferry service began after a bridge connecting the A train and the Rockaways collapsed in Superstorm Sandy. In a letter signed by all five borough presidents before the budget was approved, the politicians urged the City Council to put more funds in the service to make it a “major form of transportation.”

 

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Rockaway Ferry service extended to May


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

Residents on the peninsula no longer will experience the dreaded end of the Rockaway Ferry. The water service has been extended until May.

“While the Rockaway Ferry service began as an emergency measure, serving residents after Hurricane Sandy devastated other public transit options, it has since proved to be a valuable part of the city’s transportation infrastructure,” said Kyle Kimball, NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) president.

The ferries, which connect Beach 108th Street, the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Lower Manhattan, were slated to end Jan. 31, but will continue throughout the next several months with an option to extend further until August.

However, instead of $2 one-way tickets, the price to ride will be $3.50.

The EDC will additionally determine the viability of long-term service and identify a ferry operator.

Next month, the EDC will issue a Request for Proposals to make this determination, which will monitor ridership during the extension and show whether an additional extension to August is necessary.

This is the fourth extension of the ferry since its initial launch in November 2012, and since then it has carried more than 200,000 passengers.

“We are committed to the Rockaways’ recovery. From accelerating rebuilding programs to today’s ferry extension, we are going to keep our focus on communities hit hard by Sandy to ensure no one is left behind,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

 

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Rockaway ferry service extended through Labor Day


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Rockaway residents rejoice: ferry service has now been expanded through to Labor Day.

The weekday ferry service between the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan will continue to operate on its current schedule, now all the way through early September.

“Continuing [the ferry’s] operation through Labor Day weekend is critical in addressing transportation needs and an integral piece of the rebuilding and revitalization puzzle,” said State Senator James Sanders. “It’s a valuable tool for getting hard working people to their destination, including their places of employment.”

Ferries will continue to depart from Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive and stop at Pier 11 in downtown Manhattan, with free transfers between Pier 11 and East 34th Street. The service will continue to start in the Rockaways at 5:45 a.m. and depart regularly until 9:20 a.m. Regular service will resume during the evening rush, and one-way fares will remain $2.

Additionally, beginning July 4th, enhanced weekend service will launch between the Rockaways and Pier 11 every Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day. The city has also agreed to assist in subsidizing an additional boat to expand the service. Weekend service may be altered based on ridership demand.

Since the ferry’s opening in November following Sandy, average ridership is roughly 700 passenger trips a day.

“The Rockaways was hit hard by Sandy and it needs all the help it can get to get back on track,” said Councilmember James Vacca, chair of the Council Committee on Transportation. “The continuation and expansion of the ferry service will provide much-needed relief for residents and small business owners who are hard at work in rebuilding a stronger Rockaway.”

Visit newyorkbeachferry.com for a full list of schedules and fares.

 

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Rockaway Ferry service extended for at least six more weeks


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Though the A train is returning to the Rockaways tomorrow, the ferry is still going to continue, at least until July.

Rockaway Ferry weekday service between the peninsula and Manhattan has been extended for the next six weeks, with the possibility of continuing through Labor Day weekend, city officials announced Tuesday.

The ferry will also start an additional one service run in each direction every Saturday and Sunday, from July 4 through Labor Day, and will now also stop at Beach 108th  Street.

“The continuation of the weekday service will give Rockaway residents another transportation option, and the expanded summer weekend service will make it easier for visitors to get to the Rockaways, bringing additional economic activity to the beaches throughout the summer season,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The service will be extended through the end of the summer “if ridership remains strong,” according to officials.

After Sandy damaged the A train and cut off service past the Howard Beach/JFK Airport stop, the city provided several transportation options for residents served by the portion of the subway that was no longer running.

One of those options included ferry service between Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways, and Pier 11/Wall Street and East 34th Street in Manhattan.

Even with the return of full A train service, there is support to make the ferry permanent, including from Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

A petition he started to keep the boat running gathered 2,000 signatures in three days.

 

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