Using tonight’s State of the Borough address, Borough President Marty Markowitz is expected to revive plans to establish ferry commuter service between Manhattan and Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods including Sheepshead Bay. Markowitz’s push comes less than a year after a city study determined Southern Brooklyn unworthy of such a costly service.
Markowitz will take to the podium at Brooklyn College tonight for the 2012 State of the Borough address. The address begins at 6:45 p.m. and can be viewed live here.
According to a Daily News report, Markowitz plans to “push for the expansion of city ferry service to connect Manhattan to Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, the Canarsie Pier and the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge.”
If that proposal sounds familiar, it’s because it is.
Way back in 2009, the New York City Economic Development Corporation unveiled the Comprehensive Citywide Ferry Study, which identified possible landing locations for an expansion of commuter ferry services around the city and weighed the costs and benefits.
When the EDC rolled into the Sheepshead Bay – Manhattan Beach area for a public hearing on the plan, they got an earful.
“It’s romantic. It’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. But practically speaking, it’s not practical,” Bay Improvement Group President Steve Barrison said at the hearing.
Critics of the plan blasted it as an impractical way to make the commute. At an estimated 45 minutes for the trip to Manhattan, it would cost approximately $6.00 per rider, offering little incentive for those paying $2.25 for a trip of the same duration on the subway. They also worried about the effects of parking in the area, and noted that any ferry service in the area would require the Bay to be dredged.
Among those against the proposal were Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, the Sheepshead Bay / Plumb Beach Civic Association and the Manhattan Beach Community Group.
Still, the plan did receive support from administrators at Kingsborough Community College – who felt it would offer a better alternative to many of their students who live far away – as well as City Councilman Michael Nelson. Nelson said a ferry system could aid in the case of a terrorist attack.
“In the age of terrorism … it would be nice to know a waterway system was in place. It’s almost like a backup system,” he said.
Though no conclusions were presented at the hearing, EDC’s Senior Vice President of Maritime Venetia Lannon picked up on the community’s vibe.
“I heard more negative than positive. Nevertheless, we will do our due diligence,” she said. “But if I were to take a poll tonight, I think it’s against.”
After that, there was nary a mention of ferry service in Sheepshead Bay – until their final analysis was released in March 2011. The conclusions? Not only did the EDC acknowledge parking problems in the area, they also noted that the Sheepshead Bay landing was third to last in rankings of demand for ferry service among all 41 sites under consideration. They added that it was one of just a few of the studied locations for which the water-based commute would be longer than the subway, and that – at $17.24 – it would require one of the highest taxpayer subsidies per rider in the entire waterway system.