Tag Archive | "passenger ferry"

Ferry Proposal Criticized at Chamber Meeting

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Some business owners and community members at a Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce dinner on Tuesday night criticized a proposal by the Hampton Jitney to begin a ferry service between Sag Harbor and Greenport villages this summer. They questioned whether it would benefit Sag Harbor businesses and its clientele or if it would instead clog village streets and parking spaces to the detriment of the local economy.

The event came in advance a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting next Tuesday, where that board will decide whether or not to allow the Jitney a four-month reprieve from the village’s ferry ban to see if the concept works for the community at large.

Last month, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees introduced a local law to allow Hampton Jitney President Geoffrey Lynch to seek a temporary special permit to operate a passenger ferry terminal between May 1, 2012 and October 31, 2012 from the north end of Long Wharf.

Ferries are otherwise illegal in Sag Harbor.

According to Lynch, the ferry service will not begin until the end of June as he needs approvals from both the village and the county.

Lynch said he believes a pilot passenger ferry service, dubbed the Peconic Bay Water Jitney, could help reduce traffic and parking issues, but also help both villages’ economies. During a presentation at Tuesday night’s Chamber of Commerce dinner, Lynch said it would cost his company about $500,000 to run the ferry this season.

The Hampton Jitney has contracted to lease one low wake catamaran from New York Water Taxi that would seat 53 people.

Lynch has devised a shuttle service to connect Sag Harbor to Bridgehampton and East Hampton, which he says will reduce parking and traffic impacts.

On Tuesday night, Lynch said he was also working with the Sag Harbor School District to use their parking facilities as a hub for those wanting to drive to Sag Harbor to catch the ferry. Passengers would be shuttled in a Hampton Jitney 11-person shuttle, he said, from that parking lot to Long Wharf.

The proposal has largely had the support of the village board and Mayor Brian Gilbride.

On Tuesday night, both Lynch and his partner, Response Marine’s Jim Ryan, stressed this would be a pilot program and would only continue if it was something that worked for both Greenport and Sag Harbor villages. Lynch added if it was successful he would eventually seek to expand the passenger ferry service to other destinations on the East End and that it could become a part of a larger vision for public transportation on the East End.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, a Noyac resident, questioned what kind of formal planning had been completed to look at the impact on parking from a local or regional perspective.

“We are very nervous about the parking impact,” she said.

Lynch said no formal study had been completed and that his company viewed this summer season’s pilot program as the best way to assess the impact of a passenger ferry.

Debbie Rudoy, owner of life’style fashion boutique said parking and traffic was also her concern. Rudoy said the loss of parking spaces while the former Bulova Watchcase Factory is reconstructed has already impacted parking in Sag Harbor.

“If there is more traffic it will put people off from coming here,” she said, adding she did not believe her clientele would use a shuttle service preferring the freedom of their own vehicles.

“I think it is not a good time to test this out,” added Rudoy.

Marianne Farrell, who will chef Livia Hegner’s new gourmet food store Pepalajefa, questioned if businesses would benefit from the ferry.

“We all know where our bread and butter comes from and it’s not from people using the ferries,” she said.

Lynch argued a comprehensive plan to deal with parking and traffic through initiatives like a passenger ferry service could aid everyone.

“The people in our shops are not going to take public transportation,” said Farrell. “It’s a lovely idea and a great service, but I don’t see the benefit.”

Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce member Robert Evjen said to alleviate parking and traffic concerns, the Jitney could create a shuttle system to Main Street from Havens Beach for all East End residents, not just those using the ferry.

“We are certainly open to that,” said Lynch.

Jacqueline Brody said her concern was the impact the ferry would have on the boating community.

“I look at this as a recreational advantage and helping to alleviate the parking and traffic problems,” said real estate agent Chip Dineen, an avid biker who said he uses public transportation.

Dineen added people seeking to go to the beaches in East Hampton could have an alternative way to get there without getting in their cars by using the ferry, decreasing traffic.

Former mayor Pierce Hance, who has staunchly opposed the concept, questioned why Lynch would use Sag Harbor instead of East Hampton and Southampton as its starting point.

Lynch said the dense population of Sag Harbor was why it was selected.

“And I think because we view Sag Harbor as a destination,” he said.

“If the negatives outweigh the positives, we will not continue to run this service,” added Lynch.

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing on the ferry concept at its Tuesday meeting at 6 p.m.

Rough Reception for Ferry Plan


Former Sag Harbor mayor Pierce Hance, at the podium, spars with current mayor Brian Gilbride and the rest of the Sag Harbor Village Board over the proposed addition of a new ferry service to Greenport during the Sag Harbor Village Board Meeting in Village Hall on Tuesday, 4/10/12

Former Sag Harbor mayor Pierce Hance, at the podium, spars with current mayor Brian Gilbride and the rest of the Sag Harbor Village Board over the proposed addition of a new ferry service to Greenport during the Sag Harbor Village Board Meeting in Village Hall on Tuesday, 4/10/12

By Andrew Rudansky

A proposal to connect Greenport to Sag Harbor via a passenger ferry this summer drew a small crowd to a public hearing at the Sag Harbor Municipal Building Tuesday night, with both supporters and detractors weighing in.

At stake in the proposal was the granting of a temporary special permit that would allow a passenger ferry to operate out of Long Wharf between May 1 to October 31 of this year. This would be the first ferry to operate in the village since the mid-seventies.

Currently village law prevents any such ferry service from operating anywhere in the village. However, in the weeks leading up to the April 10 hearing, several village trustees expressed approval of temporarily changing the law to allow Jim Ryan of Response Marine and Hampton Jitney President Geoffrey Lynch to operate a ferry terminal for a test period this summer.

While the particulars of the passenger ferry are still not set in stone, a proposal outlining some of the details was presented by Ryan and Lynch. In the proposal Hampton Jitney would lease a 53-seat low-wake catamaran from New York Water Taxi for the ferry service.

The catamaran would make seven trips on weekdays between Sag Harbor and Greenport. This number of trips would increase to nine during the weekends.

During Tuesday’s public hearing Lynch said that tickets for the proposed ferry would be sold for $11 for one-way and $20 for roundtrip.

In the public hearing on Tuesday, Lynch said the proposed ferry could provide an economic boost to both forks on the island, while also taking more cars off the road.

While residents on both sides of the issue were given an opportunity to sound off on the issue Tuesday, most in attendance were opposed to the idea. Anger over this proposal bubbled up in the meeting when several speakers directly challenged the trustees over the perceived lack of information the trustees gathered before considering the plan.

“This is not appearing in front of other boards…why are you circumventing these other boards?” asked Sag Harbor resident and former village mayor Pierce Hance, who called the process a “rush job.”

Village Attorney Fred Thiele said that while the trustees could relegate this approval decision to the various village zoning and planning boards, they were not required to do so.

Gilbride tried to assuage the fears in the audience by repeating that the pilot project was temporary and the special permit could be revoked if the resulting situation was unsatisfactory.

Resident Jeff Peters, a member of the village’s Harbor Committee, expressed his disapproval at what he thought would turn into “an oil rig off of Long Wharf.”

“What is this going to cost the village?” asked Peters. “Have you done any homework on this?”

At the time of the public hearing the trustees had not conducted any official studies outlining the economic, environmental, or parking impact the ferry might have. At the hearing Gilbride said the only way to find out whether this ferry will work for the village is to try it out on a limited basis.

Jakki O’Neill, representing Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman at the meeting, spoke in favor of the proposal.

“I think it is very forward thinking on behalf of the trustees,” said O’Neill. “Legislator Schneiderman has confidence that the board will go about this in the best and safest way that they can.”

Parking conditions were at the forefront of concerns for many in the audience at the hearing.

“If there are going to be five boats a day, I cant imagine what Long Wharf will look like,” said village resident Kathleen McLaughlin. “I am really concerned where we will park ourselves to go to the grocery store.”

Lynch, also a resident of Sag Harbor, said that parking overcrowding could be mitigated.

“I have met with Dr. [John] Gratto at the Sag Harbor School Board, and we have a tentative lease in place for the Montauk Avenue parking field,” said Lynch.

The 30-car lot located behind the school would be used starting in June with a shuttle service running in a loop to and from the ferry.

Lynch also stated he has been in talks with Suffolk County Transit to create a new bus route, to coincide with the ferry arrival times, that would travel between Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton and East Hampton. He said the route would allow people to leave their cars in the surrounding hamlets while giving them easy access to the proposed ferry.

“The net effect is no additional vehicles,” said Lynch. “I would like to see on the East End a more enhanced transportation system trough Suffolk County Transit, and the only way this will happen is with private-public partnership.”

Many in the audience were unconvinced that these bus shuttles would relieve any parking situation caused by the ferry.

“If you have just one more car in this village, you already have a bigger problem with parking,” said village resident Jeff Levine.

Sag Harbor Trustee Robby Stein said the board likes the idea of the ferry, but is far from an actual decision one way or the other.

“I think we are just still in discussion, what we want is to continue that discussion,” said Stein. “A lot of people are not understanding, that even if this is passed, [Lynch and Ryan] still have to go through the regular processes.”

The trustees will have an opportunity to vote on the proposal at the next trustees meeting on Tuesday, May 8 at 6 p.m.

Altschuler Will Vie for Bishop’s Seat in 2012

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By Kathryn G. Menu

St. James businessman Randy Altschuler has decided to seek a rematch against Democratic incumbent congressman Tim Bishop in 2012. Altschuler lost his congressional bid against Bishop last year in one of the closest election races in the country.

Altschuler, who was the Republican and Conservative Party candidate in the 2010 congressional race, announced his candidacy in a press release and via his Facebook page on May 25. The announcement came shortly after he withdrew his name from the list of Republican hopefuls vying for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s seat this fall.

“After serious consideration, I have decided to run once again for Congress in the 1st District,” stated Altschuler. “With the help of all of my loyal supporters and the taxpayers of Eastern Suffolk County, I am certain we will be successful in unseating Tim Bishop in 2012 and starting down a path towards job creation, lower taxes and a robust economy.”

Last time, after battling his way through a three-way Republican primary, Altschuler narrowly lost his bid for Congress, with Bishop earning just 593 votes more than Altschuler. The race stretched weeks past election day and was ultimately decided by a significant number of absentee ballots that swung in Bishop’s favor.

Bishop, a five-term Democrat, will be seeking his sixth term.

While Altschuler appears to have Republican and Conservative parties support, both issued statements this week praising the candidate’s business experience, he will face at least one contender on his way to representing the Republican Party on the ballot. Ronkonkoma attorney George Demos has also thrown his hat in the ring to run for Congress in 2012. He came in second in the three-way Republican primary in 2010.

Schneiderman Will Face Kelly

This fall, four term Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman will face off against title agency owner Cornelius Kelly, a resident of Southampton Town, after the Republican Party announced Kelly as its candidate for the second district seat last week.

A native and resident of Montauk, Schneiderman served on the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals from 1991 to 1999, the last three years as board chair. He left a career in education to seek office as East Hampton Town Supervisor in 1999 and served two terms there.

Schneiderman was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in 2003 and in his last election, in 2009, won 100 percent of the vote after being cross endorsed by all parties. A former Republican, Schneiderman is now a member of the Independence Party, but will run on the Democratic Party line as well this fall.

Kelly, who is 39, is also a native of the East End having been born and raised in Westhampton Beach. He now resides in Southampton Town.

A former bond analyst, in 2005 Kelly founded Liberty Property Services, Inc., a title insurance company which he currently runs.

“I believe in a strong, efficient, limited government,” said Kelly in a press release issued after his nomination. “As a small business owner I know first hand the fastest way to promote job growth is low taxes.”

In other county election news, last week the Republican Party nominated Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter to run for county executive. She will face Democratic hopeful, Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone.

Charges of Price Gouging

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. fired off a press release this week charging that major gasoline suppliers and wholesalers price gouged South Fork residents over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in a direct violation of the state’s prohibition on zone pricing for gasoline.

According to Thiele’s office, a month ago the American Automobile Associate stated the average price of regular gasoline at $4.135. Today, it is about $4.028. Thiele noted that in every major market in New York, gas prices have declined from $0.07 to $0.15 in the past month, a trend reflective of the fact that oil prices have dropped, now stabilizing around $100 a barrel.

This week, Thiele said that while prices have dropped across Nassau and Suffolk counties, on the South Fork “gasoline prices have seemed frozen in time for the last month,” averaging around $4.25.

“It is obvious that when it came to gasoline prices in one of the most popular vacation communities in America, ‘Big Oil’ has chosen to not only ignore the zone pricing law but also repeal the law of supply and demand,” he said.

“In response to the decline in oil prices, retail gasoline prices have declined across the state and nation, except on the South Fork. Prices haven’t moved in a month,” continued Thiele who added, “It is clear that prices were kept artificially high to exploit the big holiday weekend.”

Thiele intends to contact the New York State Attorney General to investigate the matter and will pursue stronger zone pricing legislation through the State Legislature.

Passenger Ferry Discussion

On Friday, June 3 at 4:30 p.m. the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee to the Town of Southampton will host local transportation expert Hank de Cillia, who will discuss a proposed passenger ferry route that aims to use Sag Harbor as one of its hub ports.

In a letter to the editor earlier this month, de Cillia argued that traffic and parking are already issues within the Village of Sag Harbor and that the ferry could alleviate some of those issues while supporting the village’s rich maritime history and culture.

Jim Ryan’s firm Response Marina has proposed the Peconic Bay Passenger Shuttle Service, a year round service between the North and South Forks. According to a proposal submitted to the village in February, a dedicated passenger ferry route and schedule would connect Greenport to Sag Harbor, branching out later to connect to Southampton and Riverhead.

The shuttle would be a year-round, seven day a week service. The company plans to use a 40-person passenger shuttle, but said it would increase to three shuttles if demand was there.

According to the proposal, the ferry would be scheduled to arrive at transportation hubs like Riverhead in time for passengers to connect to the Suffolk County bus line, which could bring them further west or connect them to the Long Island Rail Road.

Under village code, a passenger ferry service on private property is against code and would require a variance. Ryan has said he would instead seek a public, village-owned dock space to run the operation.

Sag Harbor Village Trustees have not ruled out the possibility of the ferry shuttle service, but have continually noted it is against village code as of now.