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Queens Chronicle

Advocates seek a ferry straight to the UES

A call to ‘activate this whole peninsula’ is made as new public space opens

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2019 10:30 am

Gracie Mansion is about 1,000 yards from Astoria’s Halletts Point apartments —but to get from one to the other, you’d either have to swim across the East River or commute via two buses and a subway for about an hour.

Western Queens officials and advocates believe there’s a simpler way: extending the NYC Ferry system to the apartment buildings. “When you’re such a great city, such a big city, you forget that we’re really a city of islands,” U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) said on Saturday. “And a great way for us to get together is through the ferry system.”

Astoria already has a ferry stop at Astoria Boulevard, in between Eighth and First streets, a short walk from the newly built Halletts Point apartments at 27th Avenue and First Street, which allows residents to get to East 34th Street and Wall Street in Manhattan.

An additional Astoria ferry stop is needed, Maloney and others said, to provide even more transportation options and create more economic development for Queens and Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

“The whole impetus of what we’re trying to do as an organization is activate this whole peninsula,” said Richard Khuzami, president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association. “The first step was the ferry coming into Halletts Cove, and the next step is to create accessibility to and from the Upper East Side, which I think is a no-brainer because there’s really minimal infrastructure changes that need to be done.”

More than 1,000 people have signed onto an online petition calling for the new ferry stop, Khuzami said.

Maloney said she would personally call Mayor de Blasio to advocate for the stop. “We have the base on East 90th Street, we have the boats,” she said. “We just need the service.”

The request has received the support of the Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for maritime resiliency, and the Durst Organization, the developer behind the Halletts Point project — which, at its completion, will be a seven-tower apartment complex. It recently completed construction on the first tower, 10 Halletts Point.

“It’d be a great connection for the businesses in Astoria, as well as creating more housing opportunities for the people who work in the Upper East Side,” Helena Durst, principal of the Durst Organization, said.

Karen Imas, the Waterfront Alliance’s senior director of programs, said a new stop would also alleviate some of the city’s transportation woes. “With subway delays, and bus speeds at historic lows, it’s really important for New Yorkers to have opportunities and choices,” Imas said, “especially in transit deserts like this one.”

A spokesman for NYC Ferry referred a request for comment to the city Economic Development Corp., the agency that oversees the waterborne transportation system, which did not respond to the Chronicle’s email by press time.

The officials and advocates called for the ferry stop at the grand opening of Halletts Point Play, a new event space that will be used by the residents of the New York City Housing Authority’s Astoria Houses and Halletts Point for social gatherings, food markets and more. Claudia Coger, president of the Astoria Houses Tenants Association, said the space will give longtime residents much-needed exposure to the peninsula’s waterfront.

“I’ve met so many seniors who’ve grown up in Astoria and never saw the waterfront,” Coger said. “Some of the people who have lived in public housing have never walked the waterfront. That people see the beauty ... that’s going to be important.”

Astoria Houses residents broke in the space with an all-day barbecue complete with games, music and giveaways.

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1 comment:

  • OANA posted at 4:12 pm on Fri, Aug 16, 2019.

    OANA Posts: 1

    For those who support the extension of the ferry to the UES, please sign: https://www.change.org/p/mayor-bill-de-blasio-support-extention-of-the-nyc-ferry-astoria-branch-to-upper-east-side?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_15814737_en-US%3Av5&recruiter=966340055&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=share_petition