The Suffolk Legislature yesterday cleared the way for a new passenger ferry to begin trips between Sag Harbor and Greenport, the first completely new ferry service on Long Island in a decade and the only direct over-water link between the North and South forks.

The first 53-passenger ferry to Greenport leaves later this month for the 20-minute ride, but uncertainty over ridership and traffic generated by the ferry led officials in both villages to approve only on a trial run. The service is scheduled to end around Labor Day weekend.

The unanimous approval by the legislature -- which has the legal power to license ferry operations -- was the last action needed for the ferry.

The legislature also voted to extend the village's lease of Long Wharf, which is owned by the county and from which the ferry will depart. That allows Sag Harbor to keep the $12,000 the ferry service is paying for dock space. The ferry operation is a partnership being run by Hampton Jitney.

There was concern about the ferry's impact on parking during the busy summer months, but the ferry has leased school parking lots in both villages and will use a shuttle bus to the docks.

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