Operators of New Ferry Service Predict Launching by Summer
The ferry terminal on the Esplanade (near Vesey Street) is slated by summer to begin hosting an additional 60 vessels each day, carrying as many as 2,500 passengers, as the City inaugurates a new ferry service between Battery Park City and Staten Island.
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), officials from the City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) offered an update on their plans for a new ferry that will connect Staten Island to Battery Park City and Midtown.
Radhy Miranda, the EDC’s assistant vice president for government and community relations, began the discussion by saying, “the next time we speak, the new ferry will have already begun service.”
Committee chair Justine Cuccia asked, “do you have a launch date?”
Mr. Miranda replied, “not yet. Basically we’re working really hard. We already have a dock in place at Battery Park City, but not in St. George,” the site of the ferry landing in Staten Island.
He, added, “the barge is there, but there are tricky pilings that were a little bit problematic. We’re working through that and hope to be able to share a date very soon.”
This was a reference to the fact that after the EDC announced plans for a new ferry route from Staten Island to Manhattan in 2019, they belatedly realized that hazards to navigation near the main St. George Ferry Terminal made impossible their original goal of picking up and dropping off passengers at that location. Instead, they settled on a new site, near the Richmond County Ballpark, on the far side of the new Empire Outlets Mall. This placed the point of embarkation for passengers at a distance equivalent to four football fields from the St. George Ferry Terminal, which serves as the primary transit hub for the borough, and offers (in addition to ferry service), connections to rail and bus lines, taxi pickup and drop-off, and extensive parking facilities. Once passengers reach this new landing point, they will walk the length of newly constructed, 160-foot pier, followed by an 80-foot gangway, connected to a floating barge, which will serve as the terminal for the new ferry.
Originally slated to begin service in 2020, the new ferry route was delayed by these logistical difficulties, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Bob Schneck commented, “I’ve thought from the beginning this was a good idea that adds value to the Downtown community, value for the disabled community, and value to the City as a whole.”
The EDC’s decision to launch the service this summer leaves largely unresolved the concerns of residents in buildings nearby the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal, who have expressed reservations since 2019 that the noise caused by 60 new vessels arriving and departing each day, landing from 6:00 am to midnight, and carrying as many as 2,500 daily passengers, will negatively affect their quality of life.
A separate set of concerns raises questions about how fully Richmond County commuters will embrace the new route, when the existing Staten Island Ferry (which links the St. George Terminal to South Street in Lower Manhattan, with multiple subway and bus connections) offers a competing option at no charge. The NYC Ferry version is being touted as faster—by about seven minutes for the water-borne part of the trip, with an average of 12 additional minutes saved for commuters who then walk to offices in Lower Manhattan. (Staten Island residents commuting to Midtown would typically save a total of 40 minutes, according to the EDC.) That noted, the NYC Ferry from Staten Island will not be free. It is scheduled to be priced at $2.75—the same as a subway or bus fare. But unlike the City’s subway and bus systems, NYC Ferry offers no free transfers to other modes of transit. This could have the effect of doubling the cost of a daily commute for any rider who needs to board a subway or bus after disembarking from the ferry.
Another focus of criticism for the plan has been the level of subsidies it requires. According to a report released by the independent Citizen’s Budget Commission in March, 2019, “at $10.73 per ride, its operating subsidy is ten times that of the New York City Transit system. Furthermore, NYC Ferry transports fewer people annually than the subway transports in one day.” That report also notes that these subsidies are five times greater than those accorded to the Staten Island Ferry (which, as noted above, is free), and that this support is poised to become more lavish once the NYC Ferry system launches new routes this year: “the recently announced expansion of service will require even greater public subsidies—reaching as much as $24.75 per ride for the Coney Island route,” which is slated to launch in tandem with the Battery Park City route. This level of public support buys NYC Ferry passengers a more comfortable commute than the subway can offer, with amenities like the onboard availability of food and alcohol, wireless internet connectivity, and a breathtaking view.
In February of this year, after the NYC Ferry service’s ridership was slashed by pandemic lockdowns, the EDC agreed to increase its support for the project by allocating a further $64 million in subsidies, to make up for revenue lost during the public health crisis.
From: The Coalition for an Affordable World Trade Center Tower Five
To the editor:
After September 11, 2001, New Yorkers made clear that the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan must include construction of desperately needed affordable housing. However, despite tens of billions spent and promises made by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), not one new affordable housing complex was built. 5 World Trade Center represents the last chance to make good. Instead, the LMDC and the Port Authority are seeking to authorize an 80-story luxury residential tower on public land at the site of the former 40-story Deutsche Bank building.
For over a decade, led by Lower Manhattan housing advocate Tom Goodkind, local residents advocated for the last remaining World Trade Center lot to be fully affordable and include housing opportunities for September 11 survivors and their families, first responders, and seniors. September 11 had many repercussions—including loss of life, illnesses, and psychological effects—that placed many New Yorkers and local residents in dire need of affordable housing. The 25% ratio pledged for this building is not sufficient in light of the need.
Long-time moderate and middle income residents are being forced from their homes. Their children, who survived and grew up in the aftermath of the terrorist attack and helped rebuild Lower Manhattan, cannot afford to live in the area. Much of the new luxury housing is not even succeeding. Many towers are unfilled or unfinished, including 125 Greenwich Street across the street from 5 World Trade Center, which entered foreclosure.
The proposed development with Silverstein Properties and Brookfield Properties, who have already received massive subsidies, does not reflect the best interests of the city or the input of the community. The LMDC was created in November 2001 specifically to dispense federal funding to rebuild Lower Manhattan. The lack of transparency and direct community-engagement by LMDC contradicts their published mission of an “open, inclusive, and transparent planning process in which the public has a central role in shaping the future of Lower Manhattan.”
We ask that you join this coalition. In the coming weeks, with your input and support, we will seek to develop an alternative proposal for an affordable residential building at 5 World Trade Center worthy of everything that the September 11 community and our city have experienced.
THEREFORE, the Coalition asks that:
5WTC be 100% affordable housing, including preference for the responders and survivors, and their children, of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Additional community representatives be included on any Community Advisory Committee (CAC).
The community advisory process should include regular meetings and be transparent and open to the public.
Random Assault in Chinatown Spurs Rally to Decry Anti-Asian Hate
City Council member Margaret Chin led a Wednesday rally of Chinatown residents and local community leaders to condemn the most recent in an outbreak of violent street crimes that appear to be racially motivated. The latest incident occurred on Bayard Street, on Monday afternoon, when a 55-year-old woman (whose name is being withheld) was punched and knocked unconscious in an apparently random, unprovoked assault. In video captured by a security camera, a woman walks in front of outdoor seating area of Kong Sihk Tong restaurant, when she is approached by a man who raises his left arm and smashes her in the face. The woman reels backward from the force of the blow, and then falls to the sidewalk, where she sits motionless as passersby come to her aid.
The Battery Park City Authority began work on its Ball Fields and Community Center Resiliency Project last Thursday, kicking off a $7-million initiative that will construct approximately 800 linear feet of flood-protection barriers along three sides of the facility.
The walls to be erected along the Warren, West, and Murray Street boundaries of the ball fields are designed to enclose and protect roughly 80,000 square feet of outdoor playing surface, as well as the adjacent Asphalt Green community center—both of which suffered catastrophic damage from flooding during Hurricane Sandy, in 2012. The Battery Park City Ball Fields are located at a topographic low point, rendering them especially susceptible to flooding. To read more…
Turns Out That Fighting City Hall Is Kinda Tough
State’s Highest Court Rejects Appeal from Community Groups Battling Two Bridges Development
On Thursday May 27, the New York State Court of Appeals effectively ended the last of a group of lawsuits begun in 2018, in which elected officials and community groups sought to compel the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to subject several massive residential developments planned for the Lower East Side to the highest-possible degree of legal scrutiny. New York’s highest judicial review panel upheld a prior ruling by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, which itself had overturned a lower-court decision favoring opponents of the projects.
In its Thursday ruling, the Court of Appeals rejected, without further comment, To read more…
This will be the first 12 Meter regatta organized in NY Harbor. Twelve Meters are the most iconic yachts in our country and they represent the epitome of American yachting tradition. They are powerful, graceful and just plain beautiful to watch. 12 Meters were used in the America’s Cup up until 1987.
The tall ship Wavertree is open to the public. Visits will be self-guided along a set route and will include access to the main deck and quarter deck. Learn how people worked and lived aboard a 19th century cargo sailing vessel, from the captain to the ship’s officers, cooks, and crew. Then visit the cargo hold and stand atop the viewing platform where you can take in the massive main cargo area. The Museum will allow no more than 150 guests on board the ship at any time to encourage social distancing from different households. Free
Singer/songwriter Terre Roche leads this weekly singing program with the beautiful backdrop of the setting sun in NY Harbor. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned crooner, the singing circle is perfect for mellow melodies and healthy harmonizing. Participants are expected to bring their own equipment: blankets, instruments, water, etc. Masks required. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Free
The Dragon Sisters (Issa & Odessa) are a multidisciplinary nightlife duo based in Brooklyn. They are equal parts hip hop, pop, and classical. Free
‘A Whimsical Oasis’
Little Island Opens to Rave Reviews
The Lower West Side of Manhattan officially has another stunning public space: On Friday morning, the Hudson River Park Trust debuted Little Island, the new park located just off the shoreline, at 13th and West Streets. The park offers more than two acres of gardens, glades, lawns, performance spaces and picnic grounds.
All of this greenery is hoisted above the water by 280 slender concrete columns, driven hundreds of feet down into the riverbed, and supporting 132 flower-shaped masonry “tulips”—pods that appear to be separate platforms from outside Little Island, but form a continuous, undulating surface when seen from the inside. Each of these structural bulbs is a different size, shape, and elevation.
As we come out of covid, it’s clear the city’s thriving cultural scene is on its way back — and Lower Manhattan’s leading the way.
In May, the Downtown Alliance teamed up with En Garde Arts and + The Tankto present Downtown Live, a multi-weekend festival stocked with live performances ranging from music to theater to spoken poetry. The revival of Downtown’s cultural scene continues into June, with the return of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s River to River Festival.
The festival, which runs June 10–June 27, joins the explosion of post-vaccine outdoor events and art exhibits that are set to take over the city this summer. Here are five acts you won’t want to miss, and visit lmcc.net/river-to-river-festival for the full schedule.
Opening Concert featuring Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington and Leo Genovese (June 10)
Spalding is a jazz musician who made waves when she beat out Drake and Justin Bieber to win the Best New Artist Grammy in 2011. Since then she’s won three other Grammys and has been labeled the “21st century jazz genius” by NPR.
Processions with Miguel Gutierrez, Okwui Okpokwasili and The Illustrious Blacks
(June 13, 20, 25)
Artist Okwui Okpokwasili is following up her recent piece on the High Line called “On the way, undone” with another processional performance, which means you get to participate in the art. Okpokwasili’s performance will happen at Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City on June 20, followed by processions led by choreographer Gutierrez and musical duo the Illustrious Blacks will also conduct processions on June 13 and June 25.
Kamau Ware, Land of the Blacks (June 10-27)
Black history scholar and co-found of Black Gotham Experience Kamau Ware is writing an original piece on “Land of the Blacks,” 28 Black-owned farmsteads that once covered a swath of Lower Manhattan. It will debut on the River to River website.
Womxn in Windows (June 15-27)
Womxn in Windows is a multi-part video installation installed in Windows across the Seaport District. They’ll focus on the confluence of culture and society in an exploration of the multi-faceted female identity, created by artists from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Mariana Valencia, Futurity (June 25-27)
Choreographer and performer Mariana Valencia brings a 2021 version of Futurity, a dance performance that will transmit the queer stories of elders in Greenwich Village from the 1960s to the present.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
The Battery Park City Authority asks that the public not interact with or feed the urban wildlife in the neighborhood’s parks and green spaces, and at the waterfront.
City and State Prosecutors Team Up on Criminal Probe of Trump Finances at FiDi Landmark
In a story first reported by the Washington Post, New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance has expanded his longstanding probe of the finances of former President Donald Trump to include possible criminal charges. The office of New York State Attorney General Leticia James is also cooperating with Mr. Vance’s criminal investigation. To read more…
Multiple New Bikes Lanes Coming to Lower Manhattan, Adding to Growing Local Network
The City’s Department of Transportation will begin this month implementing a plan—first approved in the spring last year, but delayed by the onset of the pandemic coronavirus—to add more bike lanes to the Lower Manhattan’s streetscape.
Two new physically segregated bicycle thoroughfares will be constructed in the next few weeks: a southbound connection linking Varick Street to West Broadway, and a northbound route via Church Street and Sixth Avenue.
Also coming soon is a protected section of Centre Street—a stretch that will connect Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan to Tribeca and Chinatown. To read more…
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Report
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.