Astoria residents urge city to build NYC Ferry connection to Upper East Side

Photo by Bill Parry

A coalition formed during the summer urging the city to expand NYC Ferry service to Astoria by providing a direct connection to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where a landing already exists at 90th Street.

Residents of the Astoria Houses Tenants Association and the Durst Organization, which is building the massive development next door, formed the Hallets Point Alliance to lobby the city’s Economic Development Corporation for the expansion.

The EDC has committed to another feasibility study but only after the agency launches its proposed routes in 2021.

“We’re currently focused on providing high-quality service and reaching New Yorkers that reside in transit-starved neighborhoods, and appreciate hearing feedback on ways to add more uses to the commuter system,” and EDC spokesperson said.

City Councilman Costa Constantinides, who advocated for the ferry service since taking office in 2013, understands the frustration of his constituents are feeling.

“You always want to do things that makes sense,” Constantinides said. “The distance is just 1,515 feet away. If you want to get people out of cars and take public transportation if it’s something that will accomplish that goal it would be a good one but right now it’s not an option.”

Hallets Point is more than a 20-minute walk from the nearest subway station and a trip to the Upper East Side could take up to an hour by train. The EDC did add the new Brooklyn Navy Yard ferry stop to the Astoria line that will connect residents to the city’s premier manufacturing and innovation hub, which currently employs 9,000 people and reach 20,000 jobs in the next few years.

But many of the residents of the Astoria Houses are currently employed in the Upper East Side’s medical sector, just 1,515 feet across the East River.

“Look, we were able to get the ferry for the first time in 80 years, Could we look for improvement? Sure,” Constantinides said. “But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t say any of this is frustrating because we’ve been able to accomplish something here that’s special and it’s been utilized in a big way.”

Old Astoria Neighborhood Association President Richard Khuzami says the NYC Ferry service has been a great boost for the area’s cultural institutions.

“What we didn’t anticipate was how the ferry opened the neighborhood to the rest of New York City and our cultural institutions like the Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park and the Welling Court Mural Project have all been positively affected.”

His group started an online petition urging the city to provide the service connection from Hallets Point to the Upper East Side to create a positive economic effect to both areas. To sign the petition, go to www.oana-ny.org, scroll down to “Supporting the extension of the NYC Ferry,” and click on the “Sign The Petition” button.