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Glen Cove to borrow $4M for ferry terminal

Glen Cove will borrow $4 million to continue building its new stimulus-funded ferry terminal, citing a need to promptly pay contractors despite delays in federal reimbursement.

At its meeting Tuesday, the City Council unanimously authorized the issuance of new project bonds. Mayor Ralph Suozzi called it a short-term measure.

"We need cash flow," he said. "A vendor wants money now. Not in 10 days, not in 30 days."

The new terminal, which is receiving $11 million in federal stimulus funds, broke ground in June. A first phase of moving bulkheads, installing a new dock and laying building foundation is scheduled for completion next fall.

State Department of Transportation staff is administering the federal dollars, but has run roughly two months behind in repaying Glen Cove its first $276,000, Suozzi said. Another $2 million to $3 million in invoices will soon be submitted.

"We asked the city to be proactive," said Jeff Grube, general manager of contractor Chesterfield Associates Inc. "Not only do our workers need to eat, but the money's got to flow downhill. We've got big purchase orders out."

City leaders envision the terminal as a hub for recreational and commuter ferries, a restaurant and park. Many of those amenities will come in a second phase for an additional $4 million.

The long-term goal is to tie the site to the Glen Isle waterfront redevelopment, 56 acres of high-rise condominiums, a hotel, offices and retail connected to an esplanade. That plan is still years off, stalled by the economy and environmental studies.

Maureen Tracy, a retired teacher who lives a few blocks from the water, said this week that approving construction with no guarantee of a ferry operator is reckless.

"In the movies, they say, 'If you build it, they will come,' " said Tracy, 69. "Well, this isn't the movies."She noted that past ferries from Glen Cove have all failed. But Suozzi said those were under far different circumstances: the last was an old casino ferry run out of a temporary, tent-like terminal.

Without a study, it was commissioned only to shuttle commuters to Manhattan. "We don't want a single use," the mayor said. "We want to be sustainable."

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