They’re making waves over the city’s new ferry system.
Local pols demand the city add a ferry stop at the People’s Playground to help transit-starved Coney Islanders commute to the city. They’ve renewed their push for the stop now that the first batch of citywide ferry routes is slated to launch next week on May 3. Adding a ferry landing is a no-brainer when a Queens route cruises right past Sodom by the Sea, said one local pol.
“We already have a route going right by us, what’s the big deal in adding a stop here?” said Assemblywoman Pamela Harris (D–Coney Island). “Especially in West Coney Island, there are hardly any transit options. I just don’t understand the kerfuffle about adding a Coney Island stop.”
The Rockaway route will motor from Queens, to Sunset Park, to Manhattan in a mere 56 minutes. Meanwhile, Coney Islanders who live on the west end have to take a bus to reach the subways, and in some cases trek more than two hours to make it to the distant isle of Manhattan. It’s a serious schelp, said one local.
“Getting around here can be a real pain. We don’t have trains or anything out here so you have to take a bus to the train, and they’re unreliable,” said long-time Coney Islander Leon Watkins, who lives on W. 29th Street near Mermaid Avenue. “We’re surrounded by water, I mean, what more would qualify us for a stop? I know it’d make my life a lot easier.”
And with a boom in development and tourism, the area is in dire need of a transportation boost, said another pol.
“Coney Island is a flourishing neighborhood and we’re experiencing record numbers with over a million people visiting in the summer,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island). “I am not looking to pit neighborhoods against neighborhoods, but I am looking for equity, and when we make investments we should make sure it reaches all regions of New York.”
A 2012 city study considered launching a ferry service to Coney, considering a derelict fishing pier at W. 21th Street near Neptune Avenue in Coney Island Creek, but the city rejected both the dock and the creek, saying they were too far from the amusement district.
The study found Steeplechase Pier, off the Boardwalk near W. 16th Street, as the ideal mooring location for ferries, but the proposal came with a couple of hitches — the city would have to build a $20 million bulwark to control choppy ocean waves, and found that even after construction the operation would hemorrhage money.
But locals haven’t given up on getting ferry service, and feel the city needs to take another look.
“I understand rough waters, and that it’s very expensive to mitigate that, but I want to see updated information — from experts, not consultants — before a decision is reached,” said Treyger.
And it wouldn’t be the first time Steeplechase Pier was used to shuttle locals. In 2001, the Staten Island Ferry used a floating dock at the pier to usher baseball fans between Coney Island and the Rock — when the Brooklyn Cyclones played their cross-Narrows rivals, the hated Staten Island Yankees.
The city is still mulling a Coney Island stop, and is waiting to evaluate whether it’s viable after the first summer of citywide service, according to Treyger who earlier this month discussed the stop with the head of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is spearheading the service.
The Economic Development Corporation did not return requests for comment.