Two days after the Sag Harbor Village Board linking Sag Harbor and Greenport, the has decided to discuss options as to where the ferry should dock and what route it should take.
The decision came after several village residents, business people and a representative of Peconic Bay Water Jitney gave input on the proposed trial run of the ferry at a crowded special meeting held at the on Front Street Thursday night.
The ferry service would dock in Greenport and offer service to Sag Harbor's Long Wharf. The 53-seat catamaran would be leased from parent company Hampton Jitney and offer nine round trips beginning at 7 a.m.
At the meeting, co-owner Rich Vandenburgh said he favored any opportunity to promote Greenport businesses.
“To me, it’s a no-brainer to see how it goes for a year,” he said.
But a few invested in the local oyster farming business were concerned of the environmental impact of the proposal. Michael Osinski, who farms a section of Greenport Harbor, pleaded with the board to approve a route beginning at — away from his oyster beds.
“We can never fulfill the demand for Greenport oysters,” he said. “Please don’t have this route impact our farm.”
Village attorney Joseph Prokop said that under state law, the ferry proposal does not require the village to go through an environmental impact study. Resident John Saladino he couldn’t see how anyone could be discriminatory against one ferry boat “when 2,000 recreational boats come here every weekend” in season. he said.
Greenport resident Lara McNeil said she felt like the village was rushing to approve a project without analyzing the long-term benefits to the village.
"We are ultimately paying the bills in more ways than one — it never hurts to ask the planning board's opinion," she said. "We don't seem to be prepared for the masses. It's a good project for the village, but it needs to be in the right place and the right time. We need to catch up with ourselves first."
After hearing more pros and cons from the audience, Response Marine principal Jim Ryan, who is heading the Peconic Bay Water Jitney proposal with President Geoffrey Lynch, said in the two years he’s been developing the project, he’s taken in to account the balance of preserving aquaculture, alleviating traffic and promoting business in Greenport.
“The last thing I want to see is a family get hurt,” he said. “I’m looking to use what we have and make it work to move forward.”
Longtime Greenport business people John Costello of and Farouk Ahmad of the restaurant agreed that the ferry service is a must — as long as the route does not interrupt underwater farming. Costello recalled his days as the captain of a private ferry from Greenport to Sag Harbor in the mid-1970s.
“It was a franchise and it was quite successful — we did not bring cars, we brought people,” he said. “The day trippers eat, they look at art, they walk around and they spend money. I think we need to make a decision and try this.”
Ahmad was more adamant in his push for the ferry service.
“Mass transit is the answer to our survival — it’s not a question anymore,” he said. “It’s a must. If we add more cars then we have more congestion and more problems. This ferry is a great means of transportation.”
Greenport Mayor David Nyce moved to authorize a letter of consent for the ferry service to get the ball rolling on the project but that the board needed time to discuss where and how the boat should be docked in Mitchell Park Marina.