Glen Cove is delaying the launch of ferries to Manhattan until at least 2018, after no company submitted a proposal to provide the service by the Sept. 9 deadline.
Deputy Mayor Barbara Peebles said the deadline has been extended to September 2017. The city sent out requests for proposals in June, and seven ferry operators attended a ferry informational session in July.
“I think the timeline was too compressed, and they’re all aware of the variables that were up in the air,” including reconstruction of a road to the ferry terminal and construction of the adjacent Garvies Point development, Peebles said.
Uniondale-based developer RXR Glen Isle Partners hopes to begin construction in the next few weeks on Garvies Point, which would include 1,110 condominiums and apartments, parks and stores.
Several months ago, RXR and city officials reached an agreement to speed up construction of the parks, esplanade and other public amenities so that they would be finished before the housing. The expedited schedule means more construction equipment will be on the site at one time, making access to the ferry terminal and parking more difficult, said Frank Haftel, director of the Garvies Point project for RXR.
Peebles said that even if a ferry operator had submitted a proposal, she would have suggested that service not begin until 2018. She worried that some commuters would have been so turned off by construction and parking hassles that they might have given up on the ferry.
Peebles said the goal is now for ferry service to begin in spring 2018. That’s roughly when RXR plans to complete construction of the public amenities.
By the new September 2017 deadline for proposals, “we’ll have significant progress and a much more clear plan” on how construction-related activities affect ferry terminal parking, which is a critical piece of the project, Peebles said.
Peter Ebright, executive vice president of New York Water Taxi, said that with the new deadline, his company could reconsider its decision not to submit a proposal.
“We took a pass on it for now,” said Ebright, who declined to specify the reasons, other than to say it was a “combination of factors.”
Representatives of the other six companies that were at the informational session either did not return phone calls or would not comment.
Maureen Tracy, a longtime opponent of the ferry and a Glen Cove resident, said the lack of proposals reinforced her contention that no ferry operator will find a way to make a Manhattan route convenient and affordable enough to compete with the Long Island Rail Road without a long-term city subsidy — something Peebles said is not an option.
RXR has agreed to spend as much as $1 million to subsidize the ferry, but only for up to two years.