Friday, October 31, 2014

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City Docks Rockaway Ferry, Residents and Electeds Fight Back

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TWC News: City Docks Rockaway Ferry, Residents and Electeds Fight Back
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The Rockaway Ferry is being docked. The trip proved a popular alternative to the A train and buses, but Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city can't justify the required subsidy, forcing it to shut Friday. NY1’s Josh Robin filed the following report.

There will be no life preserver for the Rockaway Ferry and residents say they're being stranded.

"I'm very upset about it,” said one resident.

"We're not happy,” said another.

The ship first set sail after Hurricane Sandy knocked out the A Train bridge. It was just another blow for the Rockaways. The storm led to seven deaths there, with hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed.

But after extending the service, City Hall says the hefty price tag can't be justified with the subway running, which resumed seven months after the storm.

Taxpayers have to pay about $30 per ride. The East River Ferry subsidy is $2.22, the subway is only sixty cents

About 400 people ride it a day, with ridership said to be declining.

Still, local officials lobbied Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall Thursday, only to grimly emerge.

"All of us, we're still going to continue to fight for the ferry that the Rockaways deserve and need to connect the peninsula,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks of Queens.

City Hall tried clearing the storm with one wish it could grant.

A planned shelter on Beach 8th Street is now off the table.

Another recently opened at Beach 65th Street stays.

There was also talk about forming a working group to push economic development in the Rockaways. But it remains to be seen whether that translates into any tangible benefits for the Peninsula.

"I think what was great about the meeting is that for one of the first times in my time, having the electeds come together at City Hall and really talk passionately about an overall economic development strategy and make sure that this administration is not going to put on band aids. But that we are going to think about the entire peninsula,” said NYC Economic Development Corporation’s Kyle Kimball.

Those elected officials seemed less enthused.

"Clearly we all believed that the ferry is one step to creating economic development in the Rockaways and that it's a necessary part of it. And so hopefully we will get there in the future,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

When? No one can say.

But speaking of future, Rockaway residents are still smarting over the timeline for rebuilding a stronger boardwalk.

The goal? 2017, five years after the storm.

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