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Schumer: Take LI ferry to Mets, Yanks games

Sen. Charles Schumer. (Sept. 27, 2010)

Sen. Charles Schumer. (Sept. 27, 2010) Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Glen Cove officials hope to make their new ferry terminal viable by giving baseball fans a reason to ride.

The city has tapped Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for help and Monday he mailed letters to the Yankees and Mets, asking the teams to consider discounts for ferry riders. He noted similar incentives, designed to ease highway congestion, exist for people who ride the Long Island Rail Road to Mets games.

"These plans have been successful," Schumer said at a news conference at the construction site. "This is not 'pie-in-the-sky.' "

The effort coincides with Glen Cove's first written request for potential ferry operators, meant to gauge interest in the formal bid process. Mayor Ralph Suozzi sees the new terminal as a hub for boats to Lower Manhattan; Stamford, Conn.; LaGuardia Airport and the baseball stadiums. The stadiums have ferry facilities in place.

"There are a lot of possibilities," he said.

The Glen Cove ferry terminal, which is receiving $11 million in stimulus funds to cover the total cost of the first phase, broke ground in June. A first phase of moving bulkheads, installing a new dock and laying building framework is scheduled for completion next fall, officials have said.

City leaders envision the terminal as a hub for multiple recreational and commuter ferries, a restaurant and green space. Many of those amenities are slated for future construction, estimated to cost $4 million.

The long-term goal is to anchor the terminal to the ambitious Glen Isle waterfront redevelopment, a 52-acre, $1-billion proposal of high-rise condominiums, a hotel, offices and retail connected to a lush esplanade. But that plan is still years off, stalled by the economy and complicated land use studies.

Glen Isle's developer said the terminal's interim success is nevertheless critical. "It's the major magnet," said Scott Rechler, chairman and chief executive of Uniondale-based RXR Realty.

Some residents have worried that the ferry terminal is being built with mere hope that operators can be attracted in a down economy, near a location where other commuter and casino boats have failed. Glen Cove, however, said it has spoken with RXR Realty about the company being a "default" operator if needed.

"It's really important to get an early start," Suozzi said.

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