|A Brand New Ferry Tale
by Michelle Zimmerman
The East Hampton Independent - October 31, 2001
Last week, County Legislator Mike Carraciolo. whose
district includes the North Fork ad Shelter bland. submitted a sense resolution
to the County Legislature to ask New York State to sponor a feasibility
study on direct ferry service between New England and the Town of East
According to County Legislator George Guildi who
represents East Hampton and Southampton Towns and who was present at the
meeting. Carracciolo filed the resolution but exercised his right to waive
consideration of the bill until after the election. Guildi aIso said
the Caracciolo resolution was non-specific as to the type or cost of the
study. Carracciolo did not retum several calls from The Independent for
comment on this story.
Bob Drake, president of the recently formed Shelter
lsland-based Citizens for a South Fork Ferry which had met with Carracciolo
to support thc resolution, cited the section of the area known as Promised
Linad in Napeague State Park as an ideal site for a ferry terminal because
the old Long bland Rail Road tracks thst fomerly served the fish processing
plant would provide a right of way to take traffic directly from the terminal
to Montauk Highway. He suggested that a ferry company should study what
impact the traffic would have from boats that would arrive several times
Many local public officials were unaware of this
most recent development. but the impact of vehicular ferry service to and
from the Town of East Hampton is not a new topic. In 1995. the Duryea family
and the Cross Sound Ferryís proposal for a similar vehicle ferry service
in Fort Pond Bay was met with overwhelming opposition from neighboring
residents. In 1997 in the transportation element of the Town Comprehensive
Plan, it was determined that any ferry service that would cause a deterioration
in the level of road service was prohibited, and the town adopted zoning
regulations to prevent new ferry service from being established in the
Montauk/Napeague area. Vehicular ferries are prohibited in the commercial
use table in Section 255-11-10 of the Town Code, and passenger ferry terminals
are permitted only by special permit in a waterfront district of which
rthere are few in the town.
Bob Drake feels things have changed since the ferry was
last an issue and thinks its an idea worth looking at again. ìIf the traffic
is going there [South Fork] anyway it is not as if it would open up a
floodgate,î he said.
The idea of a ferry is to bring the traffic in a
different way Drake said that the proposed ferry would get traffic to the
South Fork in a more convenient, less congested way, and would take the
burden off the North Fork and Shelter Island communities. He estimated
that a trip that currently takes four or five hours to Connecticut would
take two or three. Drake also suggested that ferry is a possible way to
get off the South Fork in an emergency aud as a way for businesses to get
their products, such as fish, to various markets.
Supervisor Jay Schneiderman does not think the issue
needs to be revisited and said someone should talk to the local people
before they propose such a thing here. Iím 100% against a ferry he stated.
ìThe feasibility of having a ferry was studied by the Town of East Hampton
[in 1997]. We will not turn East Hampton into a thorough-fare.î
Councilwoman Diana Weir, currently running for County
Legislator against Guldi, said, ìIíd be against it as far as a ferry in
East Hampton or Southampton [but] Iíd have to know more about it.î
Joining Schneiderman and Weir in opposition to the ferry
is Guldi, who believes a ferry to East Hampton would not provide relief
to people on ShelterIsland. He said Caracciolo has jumped districts with
his resolution. ìItís not his district, itís my district,î he asserted.
ìOur jurisdiction is limited to Suffolk County. The county has no jurisdiction
over town docks or over interstate ferriesî If the bill is passed by the
County Legislature. it will be sent to the appropriate parties in Albany
and filed, Guldi said.
Local Government Approval
Patricia Acampora. State Assemblywoman for the North
Fork and Shelter Island said Carracciolo did not tell her about the sense
resolution he proposed in the County Legislature. Acampora said she is
in support of listening to what people have to say about the ferry and
their proposals. but feels that ìthe last thing the state would spend money
on since September 11 is a ferry study.î
State Assemblyman Fred Thiele voiced his opposition
to the proposal. saying. ìThe state would never participate in a plan opposed
by the Town of East Hampton. I ant opposed to it. It is hard to believe
a terminal in Napeague has any weight to it.î
There is also a land use issue. In order to have a ferry terminal,
the town must give approval and it would have to conform to the Zoning
Code, said Thiele, who formerly was a Southampton Town Attorney and Supervisor.
However, if someone proposed a ferry in Napeague and leased the land from
the state, the town has no jurisdiction over state-owned land. The good
news for ferry opponents is that the desired part of Promised Land is regulated
by the State Parks Department and ìit is very difficult to use parkland
for a commercial purpose. It takes an act of the State Legislature. The
land must be surplus. and replacement be found. You always need approval
of local government.î Thiele said.
While most local officials and residents have voiced opposition
to ferry proposals made in the past, Drake is trying to drum up support
for the idea. He said that since his organization is new, they started
where they had support. He contended that the Village of North Haven has
not expressed opposition and that his next step is to meet with Sag Harbor
Mayor Lauren Fortmiller. Drake said that CSFF would try to gain support
through ads, petitions, and individual contact.
Another source of support for CSFF is from Cross
Sound Ferry Stan Mickus, director of marketing, said the company does ongoing
origin and destination studies, conducted through verbal interviews with
riders. He said the studies have estimated that approximately 30% of Cross
Soundís ridership is either going to or coming from the South Fork east
of the Shinnecock Canal. ìIt is no secret the Cross Sound Ferry wants a
route from the South Fork.î he said.
Proposed expansion at the Mohegan Sun casino would
certainly increase the amount of people taking the ferry to Connecticut.
Several recent accounts, including one in The New York Times last week,
suggested that the tribe was eyeing an expansion of its operations, which
would presumably provide plenty of passengers for a ferry service between
East Hampton and Connecticut,
One forum for discussion about a possible ferry
would likely be at a meeting of Sustainable East End Development Strategy,
which is a recently formed group comprised of planning amId technical members
from the five East End towns that is trying to come to a regional consensus
on land use and transportation issues.
However, JoAnne Pahwul, principal planner for the
Town of East Hampton, said that when the town entered into SEEDS it was
with the understanding that a vehicular ferry was not going to be on the
table. ìThe town will not be forced into accepting a ferry against the
will of the local people.î she said.