Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reactions to CB8 RI Transportation Mtg - Ferry Service

Last night Manhattan Community Board 8 held a special joint Roosevelt Island and Transportation Committee meeting at the New York Blood Center. It was held in the Auditorium in case a large number of individuals attended. It was not needed. The following are my thoughts and reactions as well information provided to us in the order of the agenda.

Part 1 - Ferry Service

The ferry landing planned for the site by the Octagon and the Dayspring Church / Former Boathouse will not be ready any earlier than Fall 2009 and certainly not ready for the planned Tram rehab outage in March / April 2009. The NYC EDC representative, Michael Taylor, a Senior Project Manager for Maritime Transportation Policy, who attended when asked why that site basically stated that those decisions are made a pay grades exceeding his own. He made it clear that the City is only going to build the dock and at this time there are no plans to include a Roosevelt Island ferry stop in the proposed City subsidized pilot ferry program. This was confirmed by Josh Orzeck, Community Coordinator, of the NYC DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner's Office.

It appears that while the City is building the landing that they will be simultaneously undertaking a study to determine the impact and how an Octagon Landing will fit into any larger ferry routes. Mr. Taylor did state that part of the concept was to build the landing at the North end of the island to create a separate transportation link despite the fact, brought up by those in attenance,, that the majority of possible riders are are closer to the existing mid/South transportation hub.

A lot of good points were brought up by committee members and the public. These included (1) the fact that when the UN is in session the West Channel is closed (2) any landing should be designed to handle larger craft for evacuation purposes (3) there exists a former landing on the East Channel underneath the QBBridge that perhaps coud be rehabilitated and it closer to the existing hub. Each was listened to and acknowledged politely. The reaction to the existing landing was that it would take as much money to rehab that one as the Octagon site and the decison has been made already.

It is clear that unless a ferry operator can be profitable they will not provide service. My feeling is at the Octagon location sufficient riders will not materialize to make it profitable and we will be left with a nice dock to look at. I do give Mr. Becker plenty of credit for moving the process along and working with our elected reps to secure funding. I just hope it works and that additional landings can follow but that is highly doubtful. The public officials will never give us money for a second shot at this for years.

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