Water taxi dock approved

Dock to be located on the East River next to the Schaefer Landing luxury building. The Planning Commission unanimously approved an application by the Department of Parks and Recreation for the construction of a water taxi dock in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The dock is to be located on the East River adjacent to the waterfront esplanade of the Schaefer Landing luxury apartment building, west of Kent Avenue between South 8th and South 11th Streets.

The floating 600 square-foot dock and 36-foot long gangway required a special permit to allow its construction in an R7-3 residential district. The dock will be moored to four steel piles anchored in the East River bed, and the operation will not require a ticket booth or other structure on the waterfront esplanade. The Economic Development Corporation will be responsible for construction and the developers of Schaefer Landing will maintain the dock under an agreement with Parks. The water taxi itself is expected to provide transportation to and from Lower Manhattan for up to 100 passengers per trip. Currently, New York Water Taxi operates 13 different routes and 13 docks throughout the New York metropolitan area, including eight docks in Manhattan at: West 44th, West 23rd and East 34th Streets; Greenwich Village, the World Financial Center, Battery Park, Wall Street and South Street Seaport. New York Water Taxi currently lists fares for a one-way trip as between $4 to $6.

At the October 20, 2004 Commission hearing, a representative of the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg, sponsor of the Schaefer Landing development, opposed the application, expressing concern that the dock’s location would eliminate needed open space and cause traffic congestion on Kent Avenue. Commissioner Karen A. Phillips questioned whether a different dock location could better serve the entire Williamsburg community rather than solely Schaefer Landing. Parks argued that the location was appropriate and traffic congestion would not occur since the existing taxis do not draw large numbers.

Voting to approve, the Commission found that the dock would not cause congestion because other water taxis have only 10 to 15 passengers at peak hours and that the project was consistent with the Williamsburg Waterfront 197-a Plan, which encouraged increased waterborne public transportation between Brooklyn and other boroughs. Commissioner Richard W. Eaddy recused himself from the vote.

ULURP Process: Parks, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on July 12, 2004. Community Board 1 approved the application by 20 to 8 on September 13, 2004 and Borough President Marty Markowitz approved on September 16, 2004. The City Council did not elect to review this action so the Commission’s approval is final.

CPC: Williamsburg Water Taxi (C 050006 ZSK- special permit for water taxi dock) (December 8, 2004). CITYADMIN

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