Long Island City residents raise environmental concerns with proposed ferry landing relocation

Long Island City residents raise environmental concerns with proposed ferry landing relocation

A plan to demolish and relocate the ferry dock at Hunters Level South Park is drawing the ire of Queens residents who say the proposal would launch poisonous air pollution and block waterfront views.

The undertaking was first proposed in 2019 by the New York City Financial Improvement Company, a municipal-funding nonprofit accountable for operating town’s ferry system. Plans embrace eradicating the ferry cease on the Long Island City park, which is the oldest terminal within the system, and changing it with a floating dock at close by Gantry Plaza State Park’s predominant waterfront promenade.

In early December, the EDC introduced its plans for the primary time in public to the neighborhood board for the realm, after residents stated they had been stored at the hours of darkness about it. The board finally voted towards the undertaking, citing the neighborhood’s concerns and the shortage of transparency from the EDC. If the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers decides to disregard this pushback and approves the EDC’s plans as is, the brand new landing might be accomplished in 2023.

The $12.2 million effort would broaden present operations on the LIC/Gantry Plaza State Park terminal, permitting two ferries to function concurrently. Proper now, the terminal permits for just one boat at a time.

Locals are involved that extra ferry boats at an already busy spot that’s utilized by 5 neighborhood colleges for out of doors actions will enhance the quantity of noise and air air pollution within the space.

There have already been complaints across the metropolis about noisy ferry boat horns, which the U.S. Coast Guard requires earlier than departures. And though it is solely 300 ft away from Gantry Plaza, the prevailing ferry dock at Hunters Level South Park is in a extra residential spot with no leisure areas. Whereas ferries have decrease emissions in contrast with motor autos, they are not environmentally risk-free. Nitrogen dioxide emissions in open areas close to ferry terminals may exceed the Environmental Safety Company’s air air pollution requirements by greater than 50%, in response to a 2016 research by the EDC.

Jessica Sechrist, government director of the Hunters Level Parks Conservancy, an area nonprofit that helps keep the realm’s greenspaces, stated the LIC/Gantry Plaza State Park ferry cease poses distinctive environmental challenges that the EDC’s plans didn’t consider. Alongside with the greenspace that 5 close by colleges use for recess, the park is a restored wetland and gives a habitat for resident and migratory birds, in addition to native plant species.

“There’s some concerns about just the physical reality of building this new dock” within the East River, Sechrist stated.

In 2019, when the EDC introduced its plans to broaden ferry operations, the company carried out an environmental assessment of potential stops. The research, revealed in 2020, discovered that the proposed landing alternative at Hunters Level South Park wouldn’t end in any main will increase in noise and air air pollution, in contrast to a number of the different ferry terminals on the listing.

The EDC didn’t present extra particulars on this evaluation, however Holmes, the company’s spokesperson, stated: “Environmental review determinations are made by lead agencies, in this case, the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Coordination. These determinations are the result of analyses that are conducted in accordance with the New York City Environmental Quality Review Technical Manual.”

Opponents of the ferry relocation are also concerned the new landing will block views of the Manhattan skyline.

EDC spokesperson Jeff Holmes said a bigger ferry terminal is needed in Long Island City because ridership numbers have increased 40% during the week and 25% over weekends in 2022, adding that the Hunters Point South Park landing has the seventh-highest ridership in the system, which consists of 24 landings.

Holmes added that a ferry terminal expansion of the size being proposed can’t be built safely at the current landing because Amtrak train lines and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel both run underneath Hunters Point South Park.

The EDC’s plans were going swimmingly until November, when the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy posted a statement on its website and social media accounts opposing the project.

Sechrist said the EDC did not ensure the community’s needs were taken into account before it applied for permits in October with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency ultimately responsible for deciding whether or not to approve the project.

“When we first heard about it, we started asking people,” she stated. “It’s a relatively small and well-connected community in Hunters Point, in Long Island City, and we were surprised that nobody we talked to had any idea this was coming, which means they really hadn’t done any outreach.”

The EDC defended its neighborhood outreach, saying that it had introduced the company’s plans to Councilmember Julie Gained, who represents Long Island City, and to the transportation committee with Queens Neighborhood Board 2, an area advisory group. However this assembly wasn’t open to the general public and practically a dozen locals stated they didn’t discover out concerning the undertaking till lower than two weeks earlier than the unique public remark interval closed.

So, the Hunters Level Parks Conservancy and Gained requested that the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers prolong the deadline to Dec. 5, giving residents a further two weeks to assessment the EDC’s plans.

Gained stated she continues to be not happy with the best way the EDC and U.S. Military Corps of Engineers have dealt with this undertaking.

“I do believe that the current proposal, as is, will not be pushed through because there will be political consequences,” she stated. “They will have to spend a lot of political capital to burn through with us if they want to do something for the community, as opposed to doing no legwork to make sure that the community was bought into a big change like this.”

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