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Ferry service could pollute waterways, village tells MTA

A parking area by the Glen Cove ferry

A parking area by the Glen Cove ferry terminal is being prepared on Thursday, July 6, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Village of Sea Cliff is warning the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that its planned temporary ferry service from Glen Cove, scheduled to begin Monday, could pollute area waterways, and suggested the agency move the service to North Hempstead.

Village Attorney Brian Stolar wrote in a July 3 letter to the MTA that the agency’s use of Glen Cove Creek “is likely to be an affirmative act of negligence” because of “the foreseeable displacement of toxic hazards into our waterways and beachfront areas.”

“A ferry will end up running aground in the channel” because parts of the creek are only a maximum of 3.5 feet deep, Stolar wrote, suggesting instead that the MTA look into what he called “docking facilities” at North Hempstead Beach Park.

Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello said the village’s allegations are “baseless” and there is no danger of hazardous toxins being released into waterways from the ferry service. He said the creek is seven to 10 feet deep, and boats that are “much, much bigger than a ferry” already travel through the creek to an asphalt plant on the water body’s south shore without the churning of sediment.

“We’ve done our homework on all these matters,” Spinello said.

In a statement, MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said: “The ferries have all the necessary approvals and permits.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which dredged the creek about a decade ago, could not immediately provide a response to the village’s concerns, a spokesman said Thursday.

North Hempstead Town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said on Thursday there is only a fishing pier at that town’s park, and “it’s not designed to be a loading dock.”

Stolar said in an interview Thursday that the letter was not a threat of a lawsuit, but instead a warning of “either the MTA, the city of Glen Cove and/or the state being responsible for future clean up” if there is a release of toxins.

MTA ferries from Glen Cove to Manhattan are scheduled to run until early September to provide alternatives to Long Island Rail Road commuters affected by reduced service into Penn Station this summer. The MTA this week released the ferry schedule for Glen Cove, with a 149-passenger ferry scheduled to depart Glen Cove for Wall Street at 6:10 a.m., and a 225-passenger ferry to 34th Street slated to leave Glen Cove at 6:35 a.m.

The MTA is open to looking at schedule adjustments, based upon feedback from passengers, usage patterns and the availability of dock space in Manhattan, Donovan said. But, he said in a statement, additional boats are unlikely, because the agency “canvassed the ferry industry and secured the maximum capacity we could.”

There are 108 parking spaces at the ferry terminal, Glen Cove Deputy Mayor Barbara Peebles said. In addition, RXR Glen Isle Partners, which is constructing a housing, commercial and recreational development adjacent to the ferry terminal, is grading and spreading gravel on two plots of land near the terminal for about 265 additional spaces, Frank Haftel, RXR’s director for the project, said. Work was ongoing Thursday and scheduled to be complete by Sunday, he said.

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