New Ferry Operators Mull Transition from Vegetable Oil to Voltage
Pier 15, at the South Street Seaport, where the new ferry to Elizabeth, New Jersey, is scheduled to dock.
A new ferry will soon begin serving Lower Manhattan. On August 15, the Elizabeth Fast Ferry (EFF) will debut, linking Pier 15, in the South Street Seaport, to Elizabeth, New Jersey. The new service may prove useful to Lower Manhattan residents in several ways. On the far end of the route, a shuttle bus will connect to Newark Airport. The travel time via ferry (estimated to be 30 minutes) may prove an appealing alternative to rush-hour traffic to or from the airport, which can approach two hours. (The price of a ticket, at less than $30, is also roughly half what a taxi costs from Newark Airport to Lower Manhattan.) Indeed, the operators of the new service have calibrated the ferry’s hours (starting at 6:30 am in Manhattan, and ending the day at Pier 15 at 9:30 pm) to connect with most of the flights offered by United Airlines, the primary carrier at Newark Airport, and plan to run boats 365 days per year. As a bonus, the route will be breathtakingly scenic, passing Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty, before cruising along the Kill van Kull, under the Bayonne Bridge, and docking at the Elizabeth waterfront.
From the pier, the shuttle bus will also connect to the Mills at Jersey Gardens, the largest outlet mall in the New York metropolitan area (where clothing and shoes are sold tax-free), and the Elizabeth location of Ikea. From the New Jersey side, the operators of the cluster of hotels around Newark Airport are all interested in providing their guests with a quick, convenient way to access Lower Manhattan.
The ferry, which will connect with Newark Airport (via shuttle bus) is scheduled to ply a scenic route past the State of Liberty, through the Kill van Kull (waterway that separates Staten Island and New Jersey), and under the Bayonne Bridge.
The most transformative aspect of the new ferry service may be its ambitious plans for the future. As a resolution enacted by Community Board 1 (CB1) at its June 28 meeting noted, “EFF plans to transition to fully electric vessels on the Pier 15-Elizabeth route after they establish ridership and have the needed charging infrastructure.”
If this plan is implemented, it will mark only the second ferry service entirely powered by electricity anywhere in the United States. While some Hornblower vessels in California and New York currently operate on hybrid engines that combine diesel fuel and electricity, and also utilize power generated by wind, solar, and hydrogen fuel cells, only one other ferry in America is propelled entirely by batteries: the Gee’s Bend Ferry in Gee’s Bend, Alabama.
Ferries powered by electricity are increasingly common abroad. In Norway, the Bastø Electric ferry plies the six-mile Oslofjord inlet, between Moss and Horten (that nation’s busiest route) on 24 trips per day, carrying 3.8 million passengers and 1.8 million vehicles annually. The switch to electric propulsion is estimated to have reduced local ferry emissions by 75 percent, and has been so successful that two additional electric vessels are now under construction.
But more than new vessels are needed to convert to electric ferries. As the CB1 resolution notes, “ferry terminals need to be designed for loading power onto the boats and to have the right cables for high-current charging.” The EFF operators have already applied to the federal Department of Transportation for a RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grant to fund such electrical-charging infrastructure.
Water route between Lower Manhattan and Elizabeth, New Jersey.
CB1’s resolution observes that noise and air pollution from diesel-powered ferries have been a chronic source of complaints among Lower Manhattan residents for decades, and that “making the best use of marine facilities will require modernizing and adding electric charging capabilities at the existing marine infrastructure.” The same measure also notes that the Port Authority, which operates all of New York’s airports, “has been actively electrifying airport buses and working to reduce carbon emissions in their facilities, so helping to create an infrastructure that would support a transition to all electric ferries further their goal of reducing their carbon footprint.”
The resolution concludes by urging the City’s Economic Development Corporation (which manages Pier 15), “to install the needed marine electrification infrastructure that would allow marine vessels that use the piers in [Lower Manhattan] to go fully electric,” and similarly calls upon the Port Authority (which also oversees the ferry terminal near Brookfield Place) “to add electrical charging infrastructure at or near their Battery Park City ferry dock.”
Until all of these measures are implemented, the proprietors of EFF operators must content themselves with a slightly less radical nod to eco-friendly ferry operation: Their fleet of vessels will initially run on biofuel that is processed from vegetable oil in Elizabeth.
Marte to ‘Dark Stores’: GoPuff Yourself
Council Member Proposes Laws to Regulate Rapid Delivery Sector
City Council member Christopher Marte is sponsoring a package of proposed legislation that would rein in “dark stores”—hyper-local online grocery services, which often advertise that orders will be delivered in 15 minutes or less. (The name derives from the industry practice of renting storefronts in each neighborhood where the firms offer delivery, but covering the windows and treating the erstwhile retail locations as “micro-fulfillment centers,” which function as both mini-warehouses and dispatch facilities.)
Lower Manhattan Flood Risk Illustrated by Maps from City’s Environmental Agency
With little fanfare, the City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on July 6 released three rainfall-based flooding maps that project future risks of inundation throughout the five boroughs, under various scenarios and time frames.
For Lower Manhattan residents, the maps illustrate moderate stormwater flooding scenarios under current and future sea level rise conditions, as well as an extreme stormwater flooding scenario under future conditions.
In response to the letter on July 13, 2022, from Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) Acting Chair Martha Gallo, the Battery Park City Homeowners Coalition (HC), representing the owners of 3,800 homes, acknowledges the service of Ms. Gallo on the BPCA board over the years. That said, we strongly disagree with almost every point she makes in her letter.
Ms. Gallo’s claim that “all New Yorkers would like their rent reduced” indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of what the HC is seeking. Our most recent proposal, as well as all other prior proposals, did NOT seek a reduction in the annual ground rent that homeowners pay to the BPCA. We asked for a reduction in the rate of future increases.
Ms. Gallo and the BPCA claim that condominium owners cannot be given the relief requested because it would violate the BPCA’s responsibility as “stewards of public funds.” Where was this concern for stewardship when the BPCA reduced the ground rent for the operators of Pier A, for whom the Authority cut rent payments by one-third, before that business went bankrupt? Or the landlords of Gateway Plaza, for whom the BPCA shaved tens of millions of dollars off future ground rent obligations, to preserve limited affordability for roughly 600 households? The Authority also has frozen ground rent for Brookfield Place through the year 2069, at a per-square-foot cost less than one half of what a typical condominium owner pays.
The real question is why homeowners are being penalized, while the Authority confers lavish generosity on restaurant operators, billionaire landlords, and commercial developers.
We also reject Ms. Gallo’s narrative that the BPCA has “worked in good faith for many years to provide economic stability to homeowners through a predictable ground rent schedule reaching far into the future.” The BPCA has for years refused to negotiate meaningfully with the HC.
Ms. Gallo acknowledges that the BPCA is “pursuing a program whereby ground rent increases would be deferred” but only to “certain residents with a demonstrated financial need.” Note that payments deferred entail no actual benefit to any homeowner, whose units will decline in value because of this looming debt bomb.
The most compelling reason why the BPCA must make meaningful concessions on ground rent for all homeowners is because the onerous obligations called for in these leases are never going to be paid. They will go unpaid not because we are unwilling to pay, but because we are unable to pay. The value of our homes will first decline, then drop to zero, as a result of future payments that will exceed the value of these properties. Owners will simply walk away—first by the dozens, then by the hundreds, and eventually by the thousands. All of these residents will be forced out of the community they love and helped build. These homeowners will be wiped out financially. Entire buildings will go into foreclosure, and possession will revert to the BPCA.
We urge Ms. Gallo, and the BPCA to come to the table with the BPC Homeowners Coalition and give homeowners some of the accommodation they have provided to restaurant operators, billionaire landlords, and commercial developers.
Pat Smith, on behalf of the Battery Park City Homeowners Coalition
For Thrifty Epicures
Restaurant Week Includes 45 Downtown Eateries
New York’s annual food celebration, Restaurant Week, wraps up on Sunday, August 21. For those disinclined to venture above Canal Street, the good news is that of all the 659 establishments participating throughout the City this summer, almost four dozen are located in Lower Manhattan. Most restaurants are offering a selection of $30, $45, and $60 two-course lunches and $30, $45, and $60 three-course dinners. In many of these locations, the everyday prices are significantly higher than Restaurant Week offerings, which makes this value proposition a compelling opportunity to try places that might ordinarily be outside your budget. Because seats go fast, please call ahead to confirm availability and make a reservation.
For a list of participating Lower Manhattan restaurants, their addresses and phone number, click here.
Hudson River Park’s Wetlab is an aquarium system connecting more than a dozen tanks that contain Hudson River fishes including striped bass, black sea bass, oyster toadfish and seahorses. During Wetlab Look-ins, you can join a drop-in tour to learn more about the Hudson River’s wildlife. Animals are regularly released back into the river to ensure that their behaviors are minimally impacted. Free.
This tour hosted by the Skyscraper Museum explores BPC’s north residential neighborhood, which was developed in several phases, beginning with Stuyvesant High School at the northeast edge and the esplanade and Rockefeller Park along the Hudson. A diagonal avenue lined with apartment buildings creates one face of the neighborhood, while the inner courts of the large blocks are connected by the delightful Teardrop Park. This tour meet at the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. Registration required. Free.
After years of honing her chops and making her name as a force-of-nature vocalist, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter Maggie Rose has dreamed up her own unbridled collision of rock-and-roll, soul, folk, funk, and R&B. Cedric Burnside was born into a prominent family of North Mississippi Hill Country legends. Free.
Theodora stands out as one of Handel’s finest creations. Composed in 1749 during the twilight of his career, this penultimate major work was undervalued at the time of composition but is now recognized as the masterpiece it is. An oratorio brimming with dramatic intensity, Theodora traces the tragic tale of the eponymous Christian martyr facing persecution at the hands of the Romans. To watch online live, go to Trinity’s homepage at the time of the performance. Free.
Rhythm and grooves fill the air at this program. Follow the lead of professional drummers as they guide you through the pulsating beats of traditional African drumming techniques and methods. Drums provided, dancing welcome! Free.
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm (compost program: Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Broadway & Whitehall St
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-5pm (compost program: 8am-11am)
World Trade Center Oculus Greenmarket
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South Street, between Fulton & John Streets
Indoor market: Monday through Saturday,11:30am-5pm
CSA pick-up: Thursday, 4pm-6pm; Friday, 11:30-5pm
Outdoor market: Saturdays, 11:30am-5pm
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found