Ferry Extension to Upper East Side Being Discussed

In a meeting last week, Community Board 8’s transportation committee passed a resolution that would extend our ferry service to the Upper East Side’s 90th street ferry stop. And that’s not the first expansion to our line – debuting May 20, the Astoria Ferry line will add a stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard making the Island even more accessible to Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The Durst Organization, which recently opened the first of seven residential towers in the Hallets Cove area of Astoria, a short walk from the Astoria ferry terminal, presented their proposal to Manhattan Community Board 8 Wednesday (and plans to do the same at Queens Community Board 1 and 2) to garner support in advance of eventually bringing the idea to the NYC Economic Development Cooperation (EDC), which oversees NYC Ferry.

“They want to connect the Astoria Ferry Line to E. 90th. Can you think of any reason not to?” asked one meeting attendee to another, prior to the presentation. Jordan Barowitz, vice president of public affairs for Durst, explained that extending the Astoria line would be “a shot in the arm for the community,” that the two neighborhoods are 1000 feet apart, and throughout the 19th century there was a lot of ferry traffic between them.

Getting to E. 90th from Astoria would take five minutes, a trip that Barowitz said takes close to an hour via subway, and getting to E. 90th from Roosevelt Island would take 15 minutes. Getting up there now requires Islanders to take the F train to Lexington/Avenue 63 Street, switching platforms to the uptown Q and taking it to the 86th or 96th street stops.

Barowitz consulted Asphalt Green, located on E. 90th Street, about the idea, and he said, “They loved it.” Many Island youth travel to play soccer on one of the Asphalt Green travel teams, and would benefit from a more direct, quicker commute.

According to the Real Deal, ferry service has increased real estate prices to the neighborhoods it services, including Williamsburg, Dumbo and Long Island City.

Despite an acknowledgement that “We’ve spoken to them [NYC Ferry] about an Astoria connection before,” Community Board 8 expressed hesitation at throwing unfettered support behind Durst, who the committee characterized as a wealthy developer. Ultimately, the resolution offered ways for Durst to contribute to the route’s expenses, including exploring subsidizing ferry trips for those living in NYCHA complexes near the ferry terminals and improvements to the East 90th Street pier.

Tricia Shimamura, the committee’s co-chair said it would provide better connections Roosevelt Island; “that’s the only route I support.”

The full committee will discuss the proposal when they next meet on May 15. “This is the beginning of the process,” said Barowitz, “we’re putting together a coalition of people on both sides of the river. Right now we’re in the phase of building support.” Interested Islanders can sign Durst’s petition.

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