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Shelter Island Reporter, Thursday, August 9, 2001

New London to South Fork Ferry?

By Stuart Hample

 I think we all agree that this business of having to wait on North Ferry lines for interminable periods pollutes summer joy. And is a problem that must be remedied.
 Where honorable people disagree is on how to do it.
 Some propose a larger boat, meaning higher ferry rates.
 Others feel that the burdens of motoristsí desire to reach the South Fork from Connecticut should no longer by borne by Shelter Island, but by the communities to the south.
 To me the only remedy to reconcile the need for less hullabaloo on our roads is the addition of a ferry service from New London to the South Shore.
 This will [involve] radical changes.
 Lines of cars, oftcn extending from the embarkation point all the way back beyond 8th Street in Greenport, will vanish, along with the unpleasant feelings they stir up. (I recall with horror the dark day the end of the line was abreast of the 7-Eleven on Front Street.) All those vehicles from New England carrying families, pets and bikes bound for the South Fork will not be spewing exhaust fumes along Wiggins Street, an unhealthy condition not good for the inhabitants. Or the planet. Weekend commuters from the west, instead of being confined to their cars for indecently extended times, harboring unkind thoughts about the ferry, will feel the exhilaration of happy motoring, surely among oneís inalienable rights. Those wishing to leave the Island, now diffident about taking the North Ferry, will be free to zip over to the North Shore at will, with a smile on their lips and a song in their hearts. And those who must reluctantly leave the Island on Sundays at the golden moment when Dering Harbor is awash with the overwhelming light of sunset, will be able to depart with minimum regret, the kind of perfect condition we all pray for.
 I think it is terribly important that we eliminate this problem. If you agree, hereís what you can do:
 Attend the public meeting at Town Hall on Thursday, August 16, starting at 7 p.m. (Urgent note to weekend residents:
conspire to play hooky and be there.) This event is just one of the East End Vision Workshops (see the Reporter of July 26, page 11), part of the Sustainable East End Development Series (SEEDS) initiative. The SEEDS mission is to evaluate the East Endís entire transportation system in relation to existing land-use policies of each of the regionís towns and villages. This is the first time those municipalities, plus some integral agencies (including the New York State Department of Transportation, U.S.
Federal Highway Administration and Suffolk County Department of Planning and Public works ó along with the East End Transportation Council, a research arm of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association), will review this mess ìin a coordinated way.î And the gospel is that they are ìrelying extensively upon public participation.î
 The public. Thatís us. And, by God, we have to seize the moment.
 It strikes Bob Drake (whoís been researching this for years) and me that thereís a critical need to form a group to put some teeth into this issue and solve the problem. I offer our house at 33 Westmoreland (along with lemonade, cheese and middling wine) for the initial gathering at 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 11 ó only five days before the~Town Hall session.
 This isnít just pie-in-the-sky. We have already secured positive responses from a number of key area legislators. Weíre in contact with the Cross Sound Ferry Company, which has been down this path before. We know where the dangerous shoals lie.
 The job, as I see it, is to convince decision-makers that introducing a New London to South Fork ferry service will improve environmental and road conditions from Orient to Greenport, improve access to Shelter Island, obviate the need for a costly new boat and ferry landing face-lifting, and eliminate the burden of Shelter Islandís serving as a lily pad, an injustice longer than summer ferry lines.
 We shudder, w~ Islanders, at the mere suggestion of a bridge being built from the mainland to our Eden, yet Shelter Island is in fact a bridge between the forks. This is not good.
 Please leave word with Bob Drake, 749-1100. Say youíll show up on August II. Or if you canít attend, leave your name for further information. And attend the meeting August16.
 All toward helping to nourish and sustain this lovely place where the living good.
 And ó if we row the boat together ó will be even better -

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