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East River Ferry Pier Still Awaits Construction

By Meredith Hoffman | February 13, 2013 6:47am

GREENPOINT — Nearly two years after the India Street pier opened, it is still blighted with orange netting and construction zones, leading residents and officials to question its safety.

The Greenpoint pier, which launched with great fanfare in July of 2011 as a stop on the new East River Ferry, still has empty, fenced-off sections that were meant to house planters, a light fixture and a rain shelter — and there is no timeline for when they will be built, the city and the pier's developer said.

The issue is that the developer, Stiles LLC, is not required to put the finishing touches on the pier until Stiles begins constructing its planned condo towers nearby, according to the city's Economic Development Corporation.

In exchange for building the new pier, Stiles was granted permission to add an extra 40,000 square feet to the new condo towers beyond what is usually allowed under the city's zoning code, according to reports — but Stiles was allowed to do the work on the pier in phases and has fulfilled its obligations so far, EDC officials said.

However, local residents and officials say the frozen construction zones pose a safety hazard, especially one in the middle of the pier that is piled with wooden planks.

"It's absolutely a concern...it's a matter of public safety for residents," Williamsburg Councilman Stephen Levin said of the unfinished pier. "We want to attract people to use this as a viable alternative for public transportation, and it has to be inviting. It can't be shabby. This is not a way to ensure success."

Levin said the city should press Stiles to complete the pier now, rather than tying the project's timeline to the developer's future condo towers.

"I don't quite see why we're in the situation where it's a perpetual construction zone," Levin said. "I don't understand why he wasn't required to finish this pier. It's not in the interest of the ferry riders... The ferry has been a real success and we want to make it a pleasant community experience."

Jonathan Bernstein, from Stiles LLC, said the company had fulfilled all of its requirements in constructing the pier, and he was waiting for the Economic Development Corporation to give him a new timeframe on when the planters and other amenities had to be completed.

EDC representatives said they would alert Bernstein about the piled wood on the pier since he was required to maintain the structure's safety.

As they strolled with their baby on the pier recently, residents Aaron and Karen McGowan said the simple addition of planters and the rain covering would be welcome changes for neighbors and commuters.

"The ferry is probably losing business," she said of the pier's lack of shelter on rainy or snowy days. 

Still, she said she would rather have an incomplete pier than no pier at all.

"I'm glad they opened it when they did," she said.