After some speculation that the City of Glen Cove could be accountable for repaying millions of dollars for a ferry terminal with no ferry service in place, the city received some positive news last week. On Jan. 28, Glen Cove Mayor Tim Tenke received official notification from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) that the city’s request to extend the Ferry Service Implementation date to May 22, 2020, was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
“We are grateful for the approval of NYSDOT and FHWA to extend the start date of our Glen Cove Ferry Service and for their support of our action plan,” said Tenke. “With the Herb Hill/Garvies Point Road and the Garvies Point Redevelopment Projects under construction, this extension is critical as we want to ensure that our future ferry passengers have full access to our ferry facilities and have an optimal ferry travel experience.”
The city missed a Jan. 1 deadline to start the ferry service and risked an order to repay $16.6 million in federal grants that had been expended on the project to date. These projects include the construction of the ferry terminal building, bulkheading and other related projects.
According to Tenke, implementation of a service date has been an ongoing process as the redevelopment project has been delayed over the years. He said that it didn’t make sense—nor would it have been safe—to have ferry service with all of the construction under way. However, with the first phase of the project on track for completion this fall, he said he is confident the extended deadline will be met. The road should be completed in September and phase one of Garvies Point is expected to be finished by November.
This spring, the mayor will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a ferry operator and pursue special subsidies to help offset costs of ferry operations. Tenke noted that the majority of New York transportation services are subsidized by the state, so Glen Cove will continue to investigate potential subsidies to help underwrite the cost of operations and ticket costs. The RFP will go out in April and an operator must be hired by September.
“We’re very optimistic we will meet our goals and it will all gel together at the same time,” said Tenke.
In terms of service, Tenke said the priority is to have ferry service to 34th Street and to Wall Street on a daily basis during the week. Additional options for weekend service include service to the wineries out east, Long Island City, LaGuardia Airport, CitiField and Yankee Stadium.
So far, he said RXR Realty has pledged $1 million, which could cover the first 18 months to two years of ferry service.
“We are fortunate that Governor Cuomo, Senator Schumer, Congressman Suozzi, Glen Cove City Council, Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency and Garvies Point redeveloper RXR Realty have taken the time to support our city’s efforts to align the start of our ferry service with the completion of critical construction projects,” said Tenke.
Last March, Tenke met with Congressman Tom Suozzi to discuss the ferry project and requested his assistance.
“The extension gives the city a bit of breathing room to see that this ferry project is implemented safely and on budget,” said Suozzi. “I have always envisioned ferry service on the Glen Cove waterfront. This is very exciting.”