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Westhampton Beach firm to start building ferry terminal

Glen Cove has chosen a bidder to build the first part of a long-awaited ferry terminal, which the city hopes will become part of a revitalized waterfront.

Chesterfield Associates, a Westhampton Beach firm, will receive the $11-million contract for the project along Glen Cove Creek. The firm will move existing bulkheads and build a dock.

Two commuter ferries, each boat with a capacity of 140 passengers, are expected to start taking passengers to Manhattan in 2011.

Chesterfield will also build parking and lay the concrete for a building to be constructed later next to the docking area, said Jeff Grube, the firm's general manager.

Construction is expected to begin this spring and finish within 15 to 18 months, said Kelly Morris, who heads Glen Cove's community and industrial development agencies.

Federal stimulus funds will pay for the project. Another $1.1 million in federal money was used for planning and inspections, Morris said.

Glen Cove's last foray into the ferry business started in May 2001 with three round trips daily to lower Manhattan. A one-way trip took 40 to 50 minutes and cost $13.

Four months later, the operator, Fox Navigation, cut back to one round-trip daily. By late 2002, with ridership low, it had suspended service. Its 400-seat ferry was often less than 25 percent full.

This time, the city will use smaller ferries. Mayor Ralph Suozzi said the boats are likely to use natural gas or clean diesel to lessen the impact on the Long Island Sound.

The new terminal could be an important part of proposed Glen Cove waterfront development. A pending development proposal calls for condominiums, commercial and retail space, and parks and public walkways.

A ferry operator hasn't been secured yet, but Suozzi says he's already received unsolicited calls from companies interested in the project."Water transportation is a natural," he said in an interview.

He said ferry service could also go east, serving weekend travelers to Port Jefferson and the North Fork.

"We're looking at recreational opportunities to help the region," he said. "We're not just building a commuter ferry for 100 people."

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