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NE Queens leaders renew calls for ferry service

By Madina Toure

City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) has renewed calls for ferry service in northeast Queens after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan for a boroughwide ferry service.

Vallone commended de Blasio’s ferry service proposal but said he is “disappointed” that there is no plan in place for northeast Queens.

“I will continue to push for ferry service out of Fort Totten and the Citi Field Marina,” he said. “A ferry at the cost of a Metrocard ride would go a long way to combat the lack of affordable transportation alternatives for those living in northeast Queens.”

In a recent interview with the TimesLedger, Vallone said he was working on a plan for a full-time ferry that would run from Citi Field into Manhattan and would either be privately funded by the Mets and the US Open or publicly funded, but the United States Tennis Association said it has not been approached about it.

“We do not have plans to privately fund or finance this ferry at this time,” said Chris Widmaier, USTA’s managing director of corporate communications. The Mets had no comment.

Vallone is also seeking weekend ferry service from Fort Totten into Manhattan for recreational purposes, such as visiting the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center.

In May, Vallone, City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) wrote a joint letter to the city Economic Development Corporation and the mayor’s administration expressing their support for ferry service locations at Fort Totten and the Citi Field Marina. Vallone said he plans to send a follow-up email to de Blasio.

They contend a ferry service is necessary given the lack of transportation options in the area and would help address overcrowding on the No. 7 subway line.

The lawmakers also said the sites have the potential to be successful because of demand from the local communities, economic viability and the availability of existing docks.

Koo, who previously served as chairman of the City Council’s Waterfronts Committee, said the ferry would help ease residents’ commuting experiences.

“By providing the residents of Flushing, Bayside, Corona and the surrounding areas with another transportation option, we’ll be making the commuting lives of our constituents a little better,” he said in a statement. “Ferry service in northeast Queens would also go a long way towards alleviating congestion on the notoriously crowded 7 train line.”

Ferreras said she is still supportive of the ferry and is arranging a meeting with the mayor’s office and council members to discuss the possibilities.

“District 21 is more and more becoming a prized food, recreation and cultural destination in New York City — ferry service to Citfield would alleviate the crowded 7 train and lay the transportation infrastructure that Willets Point will need when it becomes a thriving community,” Ferreras said in a statement.

During his second State of the City speech last week, de Blasio announced a new citywide ferry service that would bring together East River routes with new landings and services to Astoria, the Rockaways, South Brooklyn, Soundview and the Lower East Side.

The citywide ferry service will launch in 2017 and be supported by a $55 million capital commitment.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour‌e@cng‌local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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