The Glen Cove City Council held an emergency meeting on June 20 to pass a resolution “authorizing the city to enter into an agreement with the Long Island Rail Road concerning the Glen Cove Ferry Terminal.” In addition, the ferry operators were chosen by the LIRR.
Because of the anticipated LIRR service reductions that will result from summer repair work at Penn Station, Glen Cove has offered the ferry terminal at 73 Garvies Point Road to be used as an alternate means of travel to Manhattan for commuters from July through September.
The resolution states that the two ferry landings in Glen Cove Creek are designed to accommodate two 110-foot-long ferries — one fewer than the original plan for three. A previous news release from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority stated that the ferry service would be open to LIRR ticket holders with monthly or weekly passes.
In the morning, one ferry will depart from Glen Cove at 6:10 a.m. and arrive at Wall Street at 7:30. The second will depart at 6:35 and arrive at East 34th Street at 7:45.
In the evening, one ferry will depart from Wall Street at 4:30 p.m. and arrive at Glen Cove at 5:50. The other will leave from East 34th Street at 6:20 and arrive at Glen Cove at 7:30.
The LIRR has hired two ferry operators to run the services: National Ferry, headquartered in Washington, D.C., which will run the East 34th Street ferry, and New York Cruise Lines, which will operate the Wall Street boat. The 34th Street ferry will have a capacity of 225, and the Wall Street ferry, 149.
The parking lot adjacent to the Glen Cove terminal has approximately 109 parking spaces, while the MTA ferry service map indicates that there are 350 spaces. Glen Cove spokeswoman Lisa Travatello said that RXR Realty, the Garvies Point waterfront developer, is preparing a lot on its property adjacent to the current parking lot to accommodate more vehicles. She added that more parking will also be available at Mercadante Beach, a short walk from the ferry terminal.
The city stated in the resolution that ferry service is in the public’s interest. “We’re trying to help the governor to mitigate the problems that are going to happen for our local commuters,” Glen Cove Mayor Reggie Spinello previously stated. “This is just something temporary that the city is trying to do to help.”
However, the plan is not without opposition. Sea Cliff Village Administrator and former Mayor Bruce Kennedy voiced a number of concerns at the meeting. “Every time it rains, the rainwater goes down into the ground, and all of the dirt that is up on the western portion of the Garvies Point property washes out into the creek, leaving crater-sized holes,” Kennedy said. He added that he thinks the city keeps filling these holes, and the rain continues to wash the sediment into the creek. “In the past month, three sailboats have run aground trying to get through the creek.”
Kennedy questioned whether a ferry meant to hold 225 passengers would be able to fit if a sailboat could not.
“I have no concern over [the hole] whatsoever,” said Glen Cove Harbor Master John Testa. He added that the hole is where the old ferry dock used to be, and the city is not filling it in.
In response to residents’ concerns about the ferries’ potential effect on recreational activities on the water, Testa said that his crew would patrol the waterway when a ferry is running.
City officials say they are confident that the ferry operators are experienced enough to know where the water is deep enough to navigate.
“If you’re a sailboat with an 8-foot draft and you go to that tight area, then yes, there is shoaling,” Deputy Mayor Barbara Peebles said during an Industrial Development Agency meeting on June 23. “They are going to test it anyway,” she said, “but there is 8 to 10 feet, even at low tide coming up to the dock, so there’s no problem with that.”
Peebles continued, “These captains know their stuff, and they’re really proud of their vessels, but they’re both newer, quieter, faster, from the last ferry service.”
“The only problem they’re going to have is lunar tide, because [the tide] literally comes out one-third,” said IDA board member Tab Hauser. “They’ll just have to learn to pay attention at lunar tide and go around.”
Kennedy added that Hempstead Beach Park would be a much better location for a commuter ferry service. It is closer to the Long Island Expressway, and Northern Boulevard, he said, could accommodate 2,000 parked vehicles, and incoming traffic would not affect any neighborhoods.
“The reality of the number of commuters that are going to be adversely affected [is] going to be 100,000,” Kennedy said. “They’re going to have 10,000 people rushing into Glen Cove trying to get on these ferries. How are they going to control that? If you have 250 passengers that are stuck on a grounded ferry that are heading to Wall Street, who does that help?”