A plan to demolish and relocate the ferry dock at Hunters Point South Park is outraging Queens residents who say the proposal would release toxic pollution and block views of the waterfront.
The project was first proposed in 2019 by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, a municipally funded nonprofit responsible for managing the city’s ferry system. Plans include removing the ferry terminal at Long Island City park, the oldest in the system, and replacing it with a floating dock at the main waterfront park near Gantry Plaza State Park.
In early December, the IEC made its plans public for the first time to the district board, after residents said they had been kept informed. The board eventually voted against the project, citing community concerns and a lack of transparency from the EDC. If the US Army Corps of Engineers decides to ignore this recoil and accept the EDC plans as is, the new lander will be completed in 2023.
The $12.2 million effort will expand existing operations at the LIC/Gantry Plaza State Park terminal, allowing two ferries to operate simultaneously. At the moment, the station only allows one boat at a time.
Locals worry that more ferry boats in an already crowded place used by five nearby schools for outdoor activities will increase the amount of noise and air pollution in the area.
There already complaints were Around town around the boats’ blaring horns, which are required by the US Coast Guard before departure. And although it’s only 300 feet from Gantry Plaza, the ferry dock at Hunters Point South Park is in a more residential area with no entertainment areas. While ferries have lower emissions compared to motor vehicles, they are not without environmental hazards. Nitrogen dioxide emissions in open areas near ferry terminals can exceed EPA air pollution standards by more than 50%, according to a 2016 report. study by EDC.
Jessica Seacrest, executive director of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, a local nonprofit that helps preserve green spaces in the area, said the LIC/Gantry Plaza State Park station presents unique environmental challenges that EDC plans haven’t taken into account. Besides the green space used for vacation by five nearby schools, the park is a restored wetland that provides a habitat for resident and migratory birds, as well as native plant species.
“There are some concerns about the physical reality of just building this new pier” in East River, Seacrest said.
In 2019, when EDC announced its plans to expand its ferry operations, the agency Conducted an environmental review of potential stops. The study, published in 2020, found that the proposed landing replacement at Hunters Point South Park would not lead to any significant increases in noise and air pollution, unlike some of the other ferry terminals on the list.
The EDC did not provide further details about this analysis, but agency spokesperson Holmes said: “Environmental audit decisions are made by lead agencies, in this case, the mayor’s Office of Environmental Coordination. These decisions are the result of analyzes performed in accordance with the Environmental Quality Audit Technical Manual to New York City.”
Opponents of moving the ferry also worry that the new landing will block views of the Manhattan skyline.
A larger ferry terminal is needed in Long Island City because ridership numbers increased 40% during the week and 25% during the weekends in 2022, EDC spokesman Jeff Holmes said, adding that the Hunters Point South Park landing has the seventh highest ridership in the country. the system. , which consisted of 24 landings.
Holmes added that an expansion of the ferry terminal of the proposed size could not be safely built at the current landing because the Amtrak train lines and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel both run under Hunters Point South Park.
EDC’s plans were running smoothly until November, when the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy posted a statement on its website and social media accounts opposing the project.
Seacrest said the EDEC did not ensure that community needs were taken into account before it applied for permits in October with the US Army Corps of Engineers, the agency ultimately responsible for deciding whether the project was approved.
“When we first heard about it, we started asking people,” she said. “It’s a relatively small, well-connected community in Hunters Point, in Long Island City, and we were surprised that no one we spoke to had any idea this was coming, which means they haven’t done any outreach.”
The EDC has defended community outreach, saying it has submitted the agency’s plans to Councilwoman Julie Won, who represents Long Island City, and to the transportation committee with Queens 2 Community Council, a local advisory group. But that meeting was not open to the public and approximately a dozen local residents said they did not find out about the project until less than two weeks before the original public comment period closed.
Therefore, the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy and Won have requested that the US Army Corps of Engineers extend the deadline to December 5, giving residents an additional two weeks to review EDC plans.
Won said she remains unhappy with how the Center for Civil Defense and the US Army Corps of Engineers handled this project.
“I think the current proposal, as it stands, will not be pushed because there will be political consequences,” she said. “They’re going to have to spend a lot of political capital to spend with us if they want to do something for the community, rather than not do any legal work to make sure that the community is bought into a big change like this.”