Sunken site: City eliminates one of three Coney Island Creek sites it studied for ferry landing

Dead in the water: City officials have eliminated one of the three sites in Coney Island Creek that they studied to drop a ferry dock, at W. 21st Street and Neptune Avenue, officials announced at a Monday night community meeting in the People's Playground.
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Call it dead in the water.

City officials have eliminated one of the three sites in Coney Island Creek that they studied as a possible location for a ferry landing, honchos announced at a community meeting in the People’s Playground on Monday night, adding that they will instead install the dock at one of two sites in the neighborhood’s West End and that they do not plan to offer a shuttle to transport riders to the beachside amusement district.

The waters around the site at W. 21st Street and Neptune Avenue are both too shallow and too narrow to accommodate one of the city’s vessels, according to a senior project manager at the Economic Development Corporation, the quasi-governmental agency tasked with growing the city’s economy that operates the ferry system.

“As you move into the creek, it gets shallower,” said Doug Rose. “Not only is the water depth a challenge, but it’s also maneuverability — our boats are quite big…it’s just really problematic for us.”

Rose said at the May 6 meeting that the vessels cannot sail in less than nine feet of water, and the waters around W. 21st Street measure only about four feet deep, according to the federal Office of Coast Survey. The senior project manager added that officials instead plan to drop the dock near the mouth of the waterway, where the waters are closer to 12 feet deep, at either the fishing pier in Kaiser Park near W. 31st Street, or at W. 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue, which the most recent feasibility study noted poses “operational risks” and challenges due to shifting sands and the width of the waterway’s entry point.

And the proximity of the W. 21st Street site to the subway station six blocks away also made it an undesirable location for the landing, since honchos intend for the boat to improve the commutes of people in the peninsula’s transit-starved West End, near the sites at W. 31st and W. 33rd streets, according to Rose.

“[W. 21st Street is] also closest to the subway, which intuitively might seem like a good thing, but with the ferry what we’re trying to do is help people who have the worst commutes currently,” he said.

The announcement falls in line with the agency’s initially-announced plan to build the dock closer to the mouth of the waterway, near W. 31st Street, which spokeswoman Stephanie Baez said was the tentative location for the dock in January, when the mayor first announced plans for the People’s Playground ferry, which will make a stop in Bay Ridge before sailing to lower Manhattan in what officials estimate will be a sub-40 minute trip by 2021. But the agency’s plans have remained in flux since then: at a February meeting with the local Community Board 13, Rose announced that officials were in fact studying sites within a 10-block swath of the creek, stretching from W. 23rd – W. 33rd streets, to determine the best spot for the berth within that stretch. And at the Monday night meeting, Rose said the agency had only actually studied the three aforementioned sites, including the one at W. 21st Street.

Local advocates from a group called the Friends of Coney Island Creek Ferry and Landing first proposed dropping a dock at W. 21st Street in 2013, when they led a successful test run in a 150-passenger vessel to the site from Battery Park. And Borough President Eric Adams endorsed the location in a December 2017 statement supporting the re-zoning of a nearby block, and re-iterated his support for it earlier this year. But local environmentalists alleged the ferry should go elsewhere, claiming that the creek is already filled with derelict boats, debris, and toxic waste — which they noted would have to be regularly dredged — and that a dock at W. 21st Street and Neptune Ave. would interfere with recreational use of the channel.

In 2012, officials suggested creating a stop at the fishing pier site near W. 31st Street, but officials rejected that location, claiming it was too far from the amusement district. But this time around, city officials said they’re prioritizing the neighborhood’s alleged 700 projected riders, who make daily commutes to lower Manhattan, over tourists, which is why they don’t plan to offer a shuttle from the landing to the amusement district, according to an assistant vice president at the economic development agency.

“This isn’t set up or focused to be bringing people to the amusement district or to the beaches,” said Megan Quirk.

But the local community board’s district manager charged that beach-bound tourists will be among the ferry riders, and that they’ll be left stranded near Kaiser Park.

“They’re going to look for the beach and the amusement park, and they’re going to be stuck there,” said Eddie Mark.

And the board’s chair claimed that one of the Kaiser Park locations could lead to quality-of-life issues for local residents, claiming that ferry riders will likely be loitering in the area after they dismount the vessel.

“They’re going to come in, there’s housing right across the street, how are we going to move these people?” said Joann Weiss.

But the amusement district is already well-served by four train lines, according to economic development agency spokeswoman Stephanie Baez, who added that honchos do not have a timeline for when they plan to pick the exact location, and that they will continue to analyze the two possible dock sites.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Posted 12:00 am, May 9, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Alex from Brighton says:
Yeah, let’s drop them off right in the projects to get mugged while being stranded lol
May 9, 2019, 7:15 am
The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
The NYC Ferry Coney Island Route is struggling to attract new riders, wither higher taxpaying operating costs to boot.
May 9, 2019, 9:52 am
NYC guy from Sea Gate says:
Don't you worry about those riders from the ferry, they will run for their lives and god will show them the way to the Beach and Coney Island park, the "jewel" of the neighborhood.
May 9, 2019, 2 pm
Roman from Coney Island says:
The most hilarious concert is those riders will litter. Have they seen what's around those projects, the garbage is just floating around.
May 9, 2019, 2:15 pm
Anna from Coney says:
I expect a ton of policing though which will finally lead to a better neighborhood, now that Seagate residence will be buying outside of the gated community. Its gonna be funny @ the start but will deff transition into a positive amenity in CI once the ghetto is cleaned out.
May 9, 2019, 2:37 pm
Daniel Ioannou from Coney Island says:
What is not mentioned in this article that is of key importance into selecting a ferry landing is the frequency. The NYCEDC is calling on bringing a ferry every 25 minutes during peak times! Both Friends of Coney Island Creek Ferry Landing + Park and Coney Islanders 4 Ferry advocated for a limited run ferry. Friends of Coney Island Creek Ferry Landing + Park saw a ferry as recreational only. Coney Islanders 4 Ferry saw a ferry as only operating during rush hour times, 4 runs in the A.M. and 4 run in the P.M. to serve hardworking Coney Island commuters who suffer from long commute times. Only 1 boat would of been needed and perhaps a backup on standby in case the other boat is out for repairs or maintenance. Both groups called on West 21st and Neptune, especially since in 2012 the NYCEDC stated in their feasibility study that Kasier park and beyond was "too far". That left only West 21st and Neptune, which as mentioned in this article, is completely able to be navigated by ferries a proven in multiple test runs. The issue is the frequency. There is no way, with the frequency desired by the NYCEDC that any ferry landing within the creek can be selected, West 33rd (outside the mouth of the creek) is the only safe option. The ferries require 75 feet of clearance on each side from the shore, it's their terms of operational safety. There is a natural choke point at the mouth of the creek that is only 125 Ft -150 Feet wide. This piece of geography within the creek does not fit the safety parameters required. Due to the high frequency, when one boat is coming, one is leaving. Two boats cannot PASS one other at this choke point. An incoming boat would have to wait outside the creek and wait for the other to disembark. This is a set up for disaster. There is not enough room in the creek for TWO boats to safely maneuver and have clear line of sites to confirm what they hear on the radio. This is an accident waiting to happen. West 33rd and Bayview is open, allows for multiple boats to stage if necessary, has clear visibility and plenty of clearance. Passenger safety must be placed first, due to two boats a landing in the creek (past the choke point) is not feasible. Like in Soundview, construction of a pier would have to extend to accommodate the required depths for a ferry. This is much easier and safe to do, than have boats navigate within Coney Island Creek. The NYCEDC cannot wiggle out of not providing a shuttle for a Coney Island ferry. Coney Island would be requesting a shuttle run of just 3/4 of a mile. Rockaways has a shuttle for their ferry landing. It runs up and down the WHOLE peninsula, which travels a whopping 9 miles! The Rockaway ferry landing is just 0.3 mile away from the Beach 105th train station and there are MTA buses that run up and down the peninsula. For a Rockaway ferry the only saves 5-10 minutes over existing public transportation options at that specific location, a lot has been poured into that ferry route that doesn't offer significant time savings. Coney Island holds all the cards. Coney Island leadership does not have to do much to convince the NYCEDC why they should pay for a shuttle. After "investing" tens of millions of dollars into Coney Island's entertainment district, tens of millions into their public works, the rapid population growth and point out the hypocrisy of the Rockaway shuttle, the NYCEDC does not have satisfying rebuttal. The only way Coney Island would not have to have a shuttle, would of been West 21st and Neptune location as it's more centrally located in the neighborhood. A case must be made by Coney Island leaders. However, nothing surprises me. Coney Island was passed up originally for ferry service and the ones who should have made noise, make a case for Coney Island and pointed out the issues with the 2012 Ferry Feasibility study, sat quite and let Rockaways and Soundview get routes first, really!? What is really interesting is the NYCEDC came into Coney Island saying, Coney Island WILL have ferry service by 2021. As a resident it's a welcoming statement. As someone who knows what's actually going on in the world, it's not very convincing. There are people in positions of power calling on the takeover of the Citywide ferry network. 2021 is a long way off considering this point and a more appropriate and realistic statement from the NYCEDC should be; "Coney Island, be flexible". Coney Island is a chance for the NYCEDC to signal to the rest of the city, we know what we're doing, city controlled transportation has its benefits in comparison to state & city controlled transportation, we're going to do this the most feasible way possible. Reforms have to be made for the entire network, especially prior to the C.I. route launch. The first reform, two fare rate. New Yorkers should be the only ones entitled to the subsidy, and pay just $2.75. Everyone else, FULL FARE. It's very easy to implement. The second, not a popular idea for residents served or hoping to be served by ferry and not popular for the politicians who represent them, limited ferry runs only. Most New Yorkers travel to work and school during certain times, rush hour. It's when the trains and buses are at capacity. Rush hour only runs clearly indicate to the critics and residents of this great city, "Hey New York this is for YOU and YOUR commute to work or school, you're the priory.
May 10, 2019, 9:37 am
Working Mom says:
This is a total bunch of b.s. Ferries for Coney Island will require an almost $25 PER RIDE subsidy!They are telling us that this ferry is for Coney residents who work in the Wall Street area. Why should we be subsidizing people who are making $100,000 a year in the financial district? They aren't doing anything to make the elevated trains in southern Brooklyn accessible to moms who can't drag strollers and small kids up all of those subway steps and people with disabilities, yet there is a whole mountain of money to spend on a couple of hundred riders.
May 10, 2019, 6:32 pm
Mathematician from Brooklyn says:
With 4 subways ending their runs at Stillwell Avenue why on earth does Coney Island need a ferry?
May 10, 2019, 7:14 pm

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