Ferry service to start by end of summer

‘Stuy Town’ sign will be changed to ‘Stuy Cove,’ landings will offer some protection from weather

A completed ferry landing in Astoria (Photo courtesy of the Economic Development Corporation)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Service on the new Lower East Side ferry route, including at Stuyvesant Cove, is on schedule to begin at the end of the summer, representatives for NYC Ferry reported to Community Board 6’s transportation committee this past Monday, although spokespeople did not have a more specific date.

The ferry, operated by Hornblower Cruises and managed by the Economic Development Corporation, will run starting from Wall Street, making stops at Corlears Hook on the Lower East Side, Stuyvesant Cove and 34th Street before ending at Long Island City, Queens.

Because construction appears nearly finished at the Stuyvesant Cove landing near 20th Street, one Stuyvesant Town resident, Larry Scheyer, questioned why service wouldn’t be starting sooner.

In response, EDC Vice President of government and community relations Radhy Miranda said that even after the landings are built, there are additional protocols before service can actually begin.

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Mayor announces expanded ferry service

The ferry landing at Stuyvesant Cove Park (Photo by Thomas Rochford)

By Sabina Mollot

One year after the launch of NYC Ferry, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that ridership along the city’s waterways could grow to as many as 9 million annual passengers by 2023. This is twice as many passengers as were initially projected, so in anticipation of commuters abandoning the subway and flocking to ferries, the city will be nearly doubling its fleet of boats. For this purpose, $300 million has already been socked away for use over the next several years.

The funds will go towards three new 350-passenger capacity ferries (by late this summer) along the busiest routes and a second homeport where ferries will be maintained and repaired. There will also be improvements to the two main ferry terminals, Pier 11/Wall Street and East 34th Street. These include wider gangways and new bow-loading locations to increase the number of vessels that can dock simultaneously. Infrastructure improvements and upgrades are also planned for existing barges and landings to accommodate larger crowds. Eight charter vessels will also be deployed this summer, each with capacity between 250-500 passengers.

Commuters will also see increases in service. Boats will be arriving every 20-30 minutes on weekdays and weekends on all four routes. Additionally, beginning on Memorial Day Weekend, Governors Island will be the last stop on the East River and South Brooklyn routes. This is aimed at increasing service to the popular summer destination.

No changes were mentioned specifically for the ferry stop at Stuyvesant Cove, although it, along with four other stops on the Lower East Side route, is expected to open late this summer, which would be on schedule.

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East River sinkhole repaired

 

Repaved sink hole (Photo courtesy of Economic Development Corporation)

By Sabina Mollot

The East River bike lane sinkhole has finally been repaired.

According to Shavone Williams, a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the faulty valve causing the problem was located on Friday, and fixed, with the road repaved by midday. Workers at the scene had been looking for the damaged water line that belonged to the nearby Skyport garage since a water main shutdown on Wednesday morning, Williams admitted.  The EDC manages the Skyport, which is owned by the city.

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Letters to the Editor: Feb. 4

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Why Garodnick should aim higher

Re: Story, “Garodnick’s $1.M campaign war chest,” T&V, Jan. 21

Your page one article notes a Daily News anonymous source:

Hon. Dan Garodnick, our City Council Member, “may be looking towards the comptroller or attorney general seat if they open up.”

Page 50 of this week’s New York Observer, however, quotes comptroller Tom DiNapoli:

“The secret is that being comptroller is the best job in state government.

“I don’t want people to know that so they don’t come after my job.

“There’s still more work to do here,” he continues.

Accordingly, that job doesn’t seem to be opening up.

This begs two questions:

(i) Who, including the days of Tammany Hall, was ever elected directly to statewide office from the New York City council?

(ii) If Hon. Dan Garodnick wants to make a statewide name for himself, he should challenge Governor Cuomo. If I was his strategist, I’d say strive for the gold.

Dan was preempted from the city comptroller’s primary and, subsequently, had to concede from the speaker’s race. He’s not winning statewide office.

And remember, he balked when considering running a primary against Brad Hoylman because he wanted to be close to home. Therefore, his considering statewide options seems quite a shift from the geographic priorities he set for himself fewer than four years later. After all, he’d have to spend more time in Albany in statewide office than members of the legislature do.

So if I were part of his brain trust, I’d have him make a statewide name for himself by running a gubernatorial primary against Andrew Cuomo.

And if his strategists don’t realize that runners up in Gubernatorial primaries are memorable while runners up in AG and comptroller primaries are not, then they’re not worth their commissions.

Billy Sternberg, ST

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Editorial: Ferry landing can’t come soon enough

Sometimes a problem sticks around for so long that people simply accept it as a fact of life. For residents who live near the East River, like those on the east side of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village as well as Waterside Plaza, one major problem for many years has been a lack of access to public transit, specifically the subway.

As for buses, anyone who’s lived in the area for more than a few years knows that two local routes, the M14 and the M23, have been winners of The Straphangers Campaign’s annual Pokey awards. The Pokeys are given to the most sluggish routes and the M23 has actually won twice.

For this reason, the city’s plan to add a bunch of stops to the East River ferry route, including one at Stuyvesant Cove Park, should be embraced.

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ST/PCV residents mostly support East 20th Street ferry landing plan

Council Member Dan Garodnick speaks at the ST-PCV Tenants Association’s meeting on the planned East 20th Street ferry landing, as Susan Steinberg, Tenants Association president listens. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Council Member Dan Garodnick speaks at the ST-PCV Tenants Association’s meeting on the planned East 20th Street ferry landing, as Susan Steinberg, Tenants Association president listens. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The plan for an expansion of ferry service that will include a stop at Stuyvesant Cove Park has been met by mostly positive responses from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents.

The community got to hear about the project last Thursday, when the ST-PCV Tenants Association hosted the Economic Development Corporation for a presentation.

At the event, the EDC reps responded to concerns from tenants about the potential for crowding — which the EDC doesn’t think will happen — and promised the new landing wouldn’t impact Stuyvesant Cove Park.

Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in his State of the City address that Stuyvesant Cove at East 20th and Avenue C would be one of 20 new ferry landings for the five new routes that will soon be added to supplement the existing East River Ferry service.

Stuyvesant Cove will be a stop on the Lower East Side route, which originates in Long Island City and travels through Stuy Cove from East 34th Street on its way to a stop at Wall Street/Pier 11. The Rockaway, South Brooklyn and Astoria routes are planned for 2017 and the Soundview and Lower East Side routes are expected for 2018. Commuters from Stuyvesant Cove will be able to transfer to all of the other routes through either the East 34th Street or Wall Street stops.

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City to redevelop P.C. Richard & Son store on East 14th Street as tech hub

The P.C. Richard & Son store on East 14th Street

The P.C. Richard & Son store on East 14th Street

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Economic Development Corporation released a request for proposals last month to redevelop the space on East 14th Street currently occupied by the P.C. Richard & Son Union Square location, to create a hub for up-and-coming technology companies.

EDC President Maria Torres-Springer said that the space was chosen so that the city could capitalize on the “academic and transit advantages” that are available in Union Square and the goal is to support the development of 21st century workforce skills that can be honed at new tech companies.

Although the computer and appliance store has occupied the spot on East 14th Street since 1996, the site is actually owned by the city. The Union Square Development Corporation leased the building from the city and then subleased the space to P.C. Richard, and the agreement is up at the end of next February around the same time that proposals are due.

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Neighbors stand firm on hatred of sanitation garage

Garodnick, Mendez echo residents’ concerns at meeting

Residents of Waterside, East Midtown Plaza, ST/PCV and nearby co-op buildings filled out the audience. Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Residents of Waterside, East Midtown Plaza, ST/PCV and nearby co-op buildings filled out the audience. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Residents of buildings located near the planned sanitation garage on East 25th Street took turns ripping into city officials last Wednesday at a raucous meeting that was aimed at getting public feedback.

Over 150 people attended the scoping session, which was at the garage site, the current CUNY Brookdale campus. Many of them were leaders of local tenants associations and co-op boards who’ve joined the recently formed Brookdale Neighborhood Coalition, which opposes the garage. The garage plan has been deeply unpopular since it was announced in 2013, and, just like at previous meetings, tenants voiced their concerns about potential impacts on air quality from truck fumes, odors, vermin and added traffic congestion that could delay ambulances at local hospitals. Many also argued that a garage for 180 sanitation trucks just seemed out of place on First Avenue’s science/medical corridor.

This time, however, a few elected officials also showed up to the meeting, and two City Council members, Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, called on the city to be more responsive to residents’ concerns.

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DSNY insists alternative sanit. garage sites won’t work

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

At a meeting last Wednesday, reps from the Sanitation Department and the Economic Development Corporation addressed residents to who live near the proposed sanitation garage, to explain their rejections, at a previous meeting, of ideas from Community Board 6 for alternative sites.

The meeting was held by the Community Board 6 Land Use and Waterfront Committee.

In attendance was DSNY architect Mike Friedlander, who reiterated a position made before by the city that both alternatives to the Brookdale campus that had been suggested by CB6 were not feasible for both financial and physical reasons. The first alternative offered by CB6 suggests using land that is currently owned and occupied by Con Edison.

Friedlander said that DSNY has been able to discuss the plan with the utility, and found that Con Edison has no intention to sell the property at this time. He added, as he noted in a previous meeting, that even if Con Edison were willing to vacate the land, it would not automatically go to DSNY.

“There’s no funding for the acquisition of property,” Friedlander said.

As for making the garage underground at the Brookdale site, the second alternative suggestion from CB6, Friedlander said that it would be a prohibitively expensive plan.

“We would basically have to build a bathtub, built down 50 feet or so, and with a high water table in the area, that would cost a lot of money,” he said.

Money has always been a key part of the plan as it’s been proposed by Sanitation, as another representative, Andres De Leon, said at the most recent meeting. De Leon noted that the reason the plan stalled to begin with was because of financial difficulties when the economy crashed in 2008, which prevented the garage from being rebuilt in the original location.

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Format of sanitation garage ‘open house’ a surprise to attendees

The Brookdale campus is the city’s proposed site for a sanitation garage. A firm hired by Community Board 6 has recommended Con Ed property. J.G. Collins however suggests a portion of St. Vartan’s Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Brookdale campus is the city’s proposed site for a sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents were surprised by the format of the most recent meeting on the proposed sanitation garage, held at the Brookdale Campus on East 25th Street last Thursday evening.

The meeting, billed as an open house, went “exactly as anticipated,” Economic Development Corporation senior associate of public affairs Ian Fried told Town & Village, but the set-up was different from that of previous meetings on the subject and many residents at the most recent event felt that it wasn’t as constructive as meetings in the past.

“What we were expecting was something more like what happened the last time it was in the auditorium,” ST-PCV Tenants Association chair Susan Steinberg said. “(The last meeting) was a back and forth discussion. We thought we’d be shown a slideshow and more details about the project.

Instead, there were representatives from DSNY or EDC at these stations answering questions so you got one-on-one time, but there wasn’t a real format where those who were attending could express their thoughts and react to the content. Almost everybody I spoke with, it was not what we were expecting.”

The meeting was held inside the Brookdale Campus, the location for which the sanitation garage is proposed. The second most recent meeting on the topic was a more boisterous affair, during which some meeting attendees took turns yelling harsh criticisms about the plan to the representatives of the two agencies who had given the presentations.

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Changes to sanit. garage plan aired

Area residents still against proposal, DSNY shoots down CB6’s suggested alternative sites

The Brookdale campus, the city’s proposed site for the sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Brookdale campus, the city’s proposed site for the sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents and members of Community Board 6 were packed in at an unusually well-attended Land Use and Waterfront committee meeting last Wednesday to hear a presentation from the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) on some of the new plans for the Brookdale Campus at East 25th Street and First Avenue.

The EDC first became involved in the project last year due to the protesting from the community and elected officials, demanding a more comprehensive plan for the site. EDC is now working with DSNY on the project, but DSNY is still the lead agency for the garage proposal, which encompasses the middle section of the site. EDC is the lead agency on the development of the bookend parcels of the site and will be working with the community to come up with options for the development of that property. The EDC has also formed a working group to address possibilities for the bookend property of the site, consisting of community board members, elected officials, residents and other community advocates, which will first meet on February 23 and it will be holding up to eight additional meetings through the end of April.

The most recent meeting on the garage, which itself was held inside one of the buildings at the Brookdale Campus, was mainly an opportunity for the DSNY to come before the committee and the public and discuss changes to its proposal for the garage. It is the first time since a previous meeting in June, 2013, also held in the auditorium at Brookdale, that DSNY has publicly spoken about the proposal and it is the first time the EDC has come to one of the committee meetings specifically to address the proposed sanitation garage.

This particular meeting had also been postponed a number of times due to scheduling and weather, but when the two agencies got through their respective presentations, the consensus among the residents was no different than at meetings in the past: we don’t want this garage in our community.

Kate Van Tassel, Vice President of the EDC, wasn’t able to get through much of her presentation before being interrupted by an angry resident who said that he was sick of hearing the same thing from the city about the garage proposal and was upset that the construction of the garage would mean giving up a viable housing facility. Van Tassel explained that this presentation was actually new, and did offer different options for community space on the bookend parcels such as affordable housing, which has not been discussed at previous meetings on the garage, but all of the plans were working under the assumption that the sanitation garage would still be located in the middle portion of the property.

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Community Boards 3, 6 create task force on waterfront resiliency

Kayakers fill the East River by Stuyvesant Cove Park during an event last June. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Kayakers fill the East River by Stuyvesant Cove Park during an event last June. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 and 3 recently formed a joint task force to offer guidance on how new features along the East Side waterfront can be incorporated into a recently-funded project focused on waterfront resiliency. The new task force met for the first time this past Monday to discuss preliminary ideas for the project and is composed of 11 representatives, including members of CB3, CB6 and various community stakeholders.

CB6 chair Sandro Sherrod, who is also chairing the task force, said that while construction isn’t expected to begin until at least 2017 and the project is currently in the conceptual design phase, the task force is planning to have additional meetings and invite the public to look at different options and various design elements.

The project, which is spearheaded by the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR), is known as the BIG U and is the result of a design competition that was held by Housing and Urban Development in which participants came up with ideas on how to fix areas that were heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. HUD approved $335 million in funding for the project last October.

The BIG U in the project refers to a ten-mile long protective barrier to be built along the east side of Manhattan from East 42nd Street down to the Battery, then looping in a U shape up to East 57th Street. Instead of typical flood barriers and walls, the project proposes to include seawalls, raised pathways, parks, locally appropriate berms and mechanized operable barriers. The plan splits the project into three distinct zones, one of which is the area between Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side and East 23rd Street.

The “zone” from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side along the waterfront extends to East 23rd Street but this area is split into two different parts. The first project area includes the region below East 14th Street, which includes a number of NYCHA developments on the Lower East Side that were badly damaged by flooding, currently has more concrete design plans than the second project area but the task force will be working with the BIG U team to solidify ideas for the area north of East 14th Street.

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Plan for Skyport’s renovation revealed

EDC expects more seaplane activity, area residents frustrated that garage will stay and lack of community involvement

 

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Last Wednesday, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) presented its plan for a $10 million renovation of the Skyport Garage and Marina to area residents at Community Board 6’s most recent Land Use and Waterfront meeting. The proposal, drawn up by Nandinee Phookan Architects, includes the possibility of increased seaplane activity, with an opportunity for larger, two-engine planes headed to Boston or Washington, D.C. to take off from the East River, as well as general infrastructure improvements to fix damage from Hurricane Sandy.

EDC Senior Vice President and Director of Operations Rich Cote said at the meeting that most of the budget is going towards infrastructure improvements.

“Sandy gave us a black eye like it did most of this part of Manhattan,” Cote said. “There was a million dollars worth of damage. We’re giving the place a full facelift, just trying to give the infrastructure some help.”

Cote explained that the garage had been leased to a private entity for fifty years until early 2012, when it reverted back to city ownership and is now under the purview of the EDC because the building was in such bad shape and improvements needed to be made.

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