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 Hampton
    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 a day.
    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 Ferrys 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.

Less Congestion?
   Bob Drake feels things have changed since the ferry was last an issue and thinks its an idea worth looking at again. If the traffic is going there [South Fork] anyway it is not as if it would open up a  floodgate, 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. Im 100% against a ferry he stated. The 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.
   Councilwoman Diana Weir, currently running for County Legislator against Guldi, said, Id be against it as far as a ferry in East Hampton or Southampton [but] Id have to know more about it.
   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. Its not his district, its my district, he asserted. Our jurisdiction is limited to Suffolk County. The county has no jurisdiction over town docks or over interstate ferries 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 the last thing the state would spend money on since September 11 is a ferry study.
    State Assemblyman Fred Thiele voiced his opposition to the proposal. saying. The 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.
  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 it 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. 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 Sounds ridership is either going to or coming from the South Fork east of the Shinnecock Canal. It is no secret the Cross Sound Ferry wants a route from the South Fork. 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. The town will not be forced into accepting a ferry against the will of the local people. she said.