While the idea of a passenger ferry connecting Sag Harbor and Greenport is a Friday evening public hearing in Greenport brought up whether both villages could support additional parking for ferry passengers.
Jim Ryan, from Response Marine, and Geoff Lynch Hampton Jitney president, gave a brief presentation on the pilot program, which would start after Memorial Day if approved. Lynch admitted there are a “lot of unknowns” about the ferry proposal at this point and said that is why they are only sourcing the ferry through 2012 at this point. He said they need to see the viability of this plan in helping to create an East End transit system.
“If negatives outweigh the positives, we’ll drop it,” Lynch said.
Greenport Mayor David Nyce read a letter from former President Mike Acebo, in which Acebo said he supported the ferry but had concerns as well. Acebo said when Mitchell Park and Marina was designed, the committee wanted to maintain the slips at the marina for transient boats forever and that putting a commercial ferry boat would be counter to that philosophy. He also expressed concerns over adding additional cars to municipal parking lots.
Dave Berson, owner of the Glory Electric Launch, said he thought it was a great idea but as an advocate for the Peconic Bay, he was concerned about the environmental impact of the New York Waterway Taxi that would be used in the project.
“We need to be careful before we commit to any other polluting boat on the Bay,” Berson said.
Ryan said the New York Waterway boat comes from a safe, reliable company with a good reputation. As a resident of the East End, Ryan said he would not want to bring harm to the bay.
Trustee Christine Kempner said it was a nice idea to bring business to the village, but added passengers would have to park in the village and was concerned it would add to village parking woes. Kempner suggested adding an incentive to park at a satellite location would help ease parking concerns.
Lynch acknowledged that both Sag Harbor and Greenport have a lack of parking and Hampton Jitney is considering asking school districts on both forks to serve as satellite parking during July and August. The passengers would then be shuttled to the docks. At this point, Lynch said, the school districts have not been approached. The Hampton Jitney also plans to run a shuttle through Sag Harbor, East Hampton, and Bridgehampton to pick up passengers.
“Parking could kill this thing on both ends,” Lynch said.
The plan is currently before the Suffolk County Legislature to approve $11 one-way and $20 round trip fares.
Before the plan can go forward, Nyce said Sag Harbor still needs to hold a public hearing and amend the village code to allow the passenger ferry to dock in the village temporarily.