The hard-working commuters on Long Island have been warned by the MTA to be prepared for “The Summer from Hell.” Due to their lack of planning and coordination with Amtrak, they will be losing 15 to 20 percent of their platform space during reconstruction of Penn Station. The result will be a reduction in the number of trains to bring working people into the city.
In an effort to make it look like they are doing something to address these problems, they are in discussions with the City of Glen Cove to operate a commuter ferry. On its face, this sounds like a good idea and who wouldn’t like additional transportation options? But the devil is in the details.
The MTA is saying the proposed ferry service will accommodate 2,300 commuters while the Mayor of Glen Cove is saying 1,100 commuters. Despite the 209 percent discrepancy in the number of expected customers, the parking lot at the site can only accommodate 100 cars. Spinello says they can possibly accommodate another 400 vehicles in an adjoining, contaminated and unimproved piece of land that will be nothing but toxic mud if it rains.
The MTA is talking about bringing in 225-passenger, 110-foot boats into that narrow creek. These ships have a 5 to 7-foot draft which will likely hit bottom trying to get into the creek which is only 3.5 feet deep at times. It would seem that the easy solution to making the creek deeper would be to dredge it however the last time this was attempted, the dredging was suspended due to the discovery of radiological slag and oil. Should huge vessels such as ferries attempt to navigate the creek without dredging, the likelihood of stirring up this contamination and it washing up on the shores of our beaches seems likely.
The safety of the scores of people who utilize our recreational harbor is also of prime concern. Every day in the summer, the harbor is full of swimmers, recreational boaters, kayakers and paddle boarders. Additionally there are 75 to 100 children (as young as 8 years old) who are enrolled in the two local sailing camps in these waters. With such short notice, it is virtually impossible to develop a safety plan that would assure that all these people wouldn’t be having their lives put in peril by such an impulsive action as launching a ferry service immediately.
With that said and with the desire to present a real solution to commuters in the area, we suggest that a ferry service be considered at North Hempstead Park Beach. It is less than two miles from the Glen Cove location, can accommodate parking for 2,000 cars, and already has two docks that could accommodate the ferries. It is located 3.25 miles from the Long Island Expressway and only 1.8 miles from Northern Boulevard. It is adjoined to a four-lane roadway that is not close to any neighborhoods. Furthermore, the water is considerably deeper than Glen Cove Creek and the avoidance of having to go through any channels or Glen Cove Creek would reduce the commute time by about 10-15 minutes.
Hopefully, the MTA and the Governor will consider all the aforementioned and concur that the North Hempstead option is the real solution to dealing with the LIRR nightmare.