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Glen Cove ferry plan delayed

A winter of snow and storms has helped push back the construction timeline of Glen Cove's new ferry terminal, prompting the city council to approve a contract extension at last night's meeting.

The resolution adds two months to the agreement with Chesterfield Associates for the project's first phase, which includes grading and drainage improvements along Glen Cove Creek, and constructing bulkheads, docks and a building foundation. The current contract would have expired May 3, but is now extended to July 1.

"It's 43 working days," noted Mayor Ralph Suozzi.

In addition to weather, work is being slowed by a lag in the environmental permitting process. City officials said the action does not add to the cost of the first phase, which received $11 million in federal stimulus funding.

Completion is slated for fall, after which the city must construct the rest of the terminal building, estimated at roughly $4 million, some of which is covered by grants.

Earlier this month, Glen Cove issued a formal Request for Expressions of Interest to potential ferry operators. The 12-page document, a precursor to the actual bid process, describes the city's intention to make the terminal a multipurpose hub of commuter ferries to various destinations, recreational cruises and high-speed boats.

Responses are due in early April. Officials have said they hope to start running ferries by next spring.

Critics have called the project reckless in light of previous ferry failures - the last boats stopped running in 2002 - and the fact that an independent operator has yet to sign on for the new terminal.

City leaders have said that even if an operator is not immediately found, the developer of a larger waterfront project around the ferry will act as one by default.

The ferry terminal is central to the $1-billion, 56-acre Glen Isle waterfront development. That project - including plans for 860 residential units, 25,000 square feet of retail, 50,000 square feet of office space and 20 acres of public green space - has been slowed by the economy and the detailed developer response to a 2009 draft environmental impact statement.

Last month, developer RXR-Glen Isle Corp. said it hopes to break ground on the city-owned land within two years. Build-out is expected to take seven to 10 years after that.

With Matthew Chayes

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