From The Councilman's Desk
On July 21, 2009, I attended the Comprehensive Citywide Ferry Service Study Meeting at Queens Borough Hall. This gatheringQA was hosted by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, and was co-hosted by Council Members Leroy Comrie, John Liu, Peter Vallone Jr., James Sanders, and yours truly.
Representatives from Mayor Bloomberg's office as well as Speaker Quinn's office were also present. More than a dozen concerned Rockaway residents and community activists also made the journey to have their voices heard. Their input was positive, insightful, and added to the constructive dialogue of the day.
Expanding ferry service throughout Queens is the key to a more sustainable future. The City is now in the process of analyzing potential launch locations across the five boroughs as it looks to encourage the use of this convenient mode of transportation. In Queens, the six designated ferry sites include: Rockaway, Queens West, La- Guardia Airport, Citi Field, Astoria, and JFK Airport. The first four sites mentioned already have ferry landings, while ferry landing construction would be required at the last two. The NYC Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Transportation have been working with the MTA to connect these ferry landings with bus and subway service.
Issues in the meeting's discussion, of course, were the landing site conditions, ridership levels, availability of commuter public parking, along with the overall financial impact on the surrounding communities. These were just a few of the concerns that were raised. As a member of the Council's Transportation Committee, I look forward to being part of this environmentally friendly "Blue Highway" movement.
Progress has also been made on the lifeguard issue. I am happy to report that our New York City beaches and pools will be protected by a record breaking 1,200 lifeguards for the summer of 2009. This is a great accomplishment when compared to the average number of lifeguards on duty between 1995 and 2005, which was only 969. Beach coverage in the Rockaways is also above average. The volume of calls and complaints to 311 and to my district offices have been few and far between on this issue. I applaud the Parks Department officials who recruited vigorously during the winter months in order to achieve this goal. My office has also been actively recruiting qualified individuals for these positions. Our efforts have proven to be tremendously successful thus far.
Life in the Rockaways and Broad Channel is unique with its waterways and pristine beaches. Rest assured, your voice is being heard in City Hall. While we have made some progress on several issues, I am fully aware that there is more work to be done.