Greenpoint Ferry Service Back Up After Weekend Snafu Over Dock Rights

Photo by Susan De Vries

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Ferry service has returned to Greenpoint on Monday after a 36-hour hiatus that began when the jetty’s new private owner restricted access to the boats, according to officials.

“Unfortunately access has been restricted by the new owner of the pier. We are working diligently to resolve the issue,” said a rep for the ferry service in an October 18 tweet signed off with the letter “M.”

Officials with the maritime transit system posted an alert online that service to the north Brooklyn stop at India and West streets will be suspended until further notice.

“Due to temporary restrictions to the Greenpoint pier, ferry service to and from the Greenpoint landing will be suspended until further notice. We will post updates on http://ferry.nyc and the NYC Ferry app when service will resume. We apologize for any inconvenience,” the post read.

But when some unsuspecting straphangers arrived at the ferry stop for their waterborne commute Monday morning, they were left stranded at the shore as a ferry passed them by without docking. A boat worker then shouted about the closure from aboard the vessel, according to a video captured by local Councilman Steve Levin’s staffer and 2021 candidate for his seat, Elizabeth Adams.

“Greenpoint @NYCferry stop out of commission ‘indefinitely’ [because] the developer sold the property. This isn’t how public transit functions,” Adams wrote in the October 19 tweet. “And here’s how commuters are being notified this morning: from a boat operater [sic] calling out to people as the ferry goes by. Seriously @NYCEDC?”

Construction and development multinational Lendlease bought the waterfront lot at the pier at 18 India Street for $110.8 million in cash on October 7, with plans to build a mixed use apartment building with 800 rental units, according to property records and a report by The Real Deal. The developer could not be reached for further comment on the service outage.

While service was shut off, the EDC had deployed shuttle buses bringing riders to the next ferry stop in Queens, according to an agency rep.

By Monday afternoon, when service had returned, several locals had slammed both the EDC and Lendlease for the the snafu, including one Council candidate who suggested the city should take control of the pier.

Another local pol and nearby resident slammed bureaucrats for failing to secure rights to dock and called on officials to make sure the situation doesn’t happen at any other stops.

“It seems like an absurdly stupid mistake made by the city,” said Stu Sherman, a candidate for the local council seat who lives a block away from the stop. “I think the city needs to review all the docks to see if this can happen with the other ones suddenly without any warning.”

The quasi-public EDC — which contracts the ferry service out to private operator Hornblower — didn’t provide information on how many of the ferry’s docks were privately owned or could face similar sudden service interruptions if their properties changed hands.

The Greenpoint stop has been a headache for years, with regular flooding forcing commuters to scale fences and build bridges out of construction barriers to get onto dry land, and when its ramp collapsed into the water in 2014.

The city has sunk tens of millions of dollars into the ferry system to keep it afloat, eating up large chunks of rent EDC collects on publicly owned properties in Manhattan, The City reported.

Mayor de Blasio launched the project in 2017, and taxpayers subsidize each $2.75 ride with about $9, according to calculations by the watchdog group Citizens Budget Commission. The service serves mostly well-heeled commuters living along wealthy waterfront areas.

Editor’s note: A version of this story originally ran in Brooklyn Paper. Click here to see the original story.

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