May 21, 2019–City Hall – On Monday afternoon, an Executive Budget Hearing on Economic Development for the upcoming New York City fiscal year was held by Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair of the Committee. The hearing was an opportunity for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to provide the Council with an overview of their capital funding plan and provide updates on ongoing projects and for the Council to pose questions to NYCEDC about their budget items. Representing the NYCEDC at this hearing was James Patchett, President and CEO.
Council Member Vallone paid particular attention to designated investments in the waterfront, including public transportation and preserving and expanding recreational waterfront public spaces, and renewed the call for ferry service in City transportation deserts like Northeast Queens.
Earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio announced that NYC Ferry will continue its expansion through 2021 by adding new stops and routes in Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island. By Year 2021, there will be a total of eight ferry routes in the City. Operating routes include Astoria, East River, Lower East Side, Rockaway, Soundview, and South Brooklyn. Launch of the St. George Route is expected in Year 2020 and launch of the Coney Island Route in Year 2021. NYCEDC will also add a stop on the Soundview Route at Ferry Point Park in Year 2021.
NYCEDC is the project lead with construction of new ferry landings, renovation of existing ferry landings, and managing the contract with Hornblower, the operator providing service on behalf of the City. Citywide Ferry Service is projected to support approximately 4.6 million rider trips per year and fares on the new service will cost $2.75, the same as a bus or subway ride.
Council Member Vallone again called for commuter ferry service at the World’s Fair Marina in Flushing, which is being reconstructed to upgrade the deteriorated fixed piers, floating docks, and related components damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The marina is being designed in a manner that would accommodate a potential ferry landing and the reconstruction project will be completed by 2022. At the hearing, Vallone urged EDC to continue exploring establishing a future landing at the World’s Fare Marina.
“As we continuously look for ways to meet the extraordinary demand for public transit, our City should look to ride the wave of ferry service, which brings a viable transportation option to areas of our city like Northeast Queens that are difficult to access and lack subway access and reliable bus service,” said Council Member Vallone.
During the hearing, James Patchett also recapped some of the ongoing projects funded in recent Fiscal Plans, which included the Downtown Far Rockaway Housing and Commercial Redevelopment in Queens, the Essex Market at Essex Crossing in Manhattan, and the Futureworks Makerspace at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Of the 445 projects in NYCEDC’s Capital Commitment Plan, 143 are in Brooklyn, 131 are in Manhattan, 72 are in Queens, 48 are in the Bronx, 34 are in Staten Island, and 17 are citywide. Council Members questioned President Patchett on the rationale for EDC to manage nearly $3 billion in capital projects for other agencies.
“It is essential we adopt a budget that is transparent and reflective of the priorities of the Council and our New Yorkers,” said Council Member Vallone. “As Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Economic Development, I expect that NYCEDC will be responsive to the concerns of the Council and will work closely with Members to ensure we pass a budget that fosters continued economic growth in New York City.”