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Shrill New Ferry Horns Putting Waterfront Residents On Edge

 The new NYC ferry horn is driving waterfront residents crazy, they say.
The new NYC ferry horn is driving waterfront residents crazy, they say.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

WILLIAMSBURG — They call themselves "Hornblower" for a reason.

The new high-pitched signal on the new citywide ferry boat, which sounds its shrill warning every 20 minutes, seven days a week, is driving waterfront residents nuts.

"It's the kind of sound that is designed to illicit a sense of panic," said Marios Koufaris, 46, a waterfront resident who said the alarm sounded like the high-pitched Amber alerts for kidnapped children that come through on cellphones.

"You can hear it in Williamsburg while the boat is still in Greenpoint," he said. "Imagine having an alarm going off every 10, 15 minutes, 7 days a week."

Residents of luxury apartments at the Edge, Northside Piers by the Williamsburg North ferry stop and some tenants at Schaefer Landing near the South Williamsburg dock have lodged 33 complaints for loud boat noise to 311 since May 1 when Hornblower officially took over for the East River ferry route, records show. 

"You can hear it through windows or drywall," said Justin Friedman, 26, who said he never would bought his apartment if he'd known about the new ferry horns. "It seems almost like it's meant to pierce through your building."

Waterfront residents have been in contact with the city's Economic Development Corporation and local elected officials about their concerns and the ferry company said they were working on a solution. 

"We're actively in the process of installing horns that will be rear-facing in order to direct the sound directly over the water," wrote Cameron Clark, Hornblower's Vice President in an email to one resident. "We anticipate we'll be completing this work over the next month."

"I would be grateful to hear back from you once the new system is installed to let me know if it is an improvement," he wrote.

Hornblower didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.

The screeching horn irks not only nearby residents, but commuters as well, like David Walker, 34, waiting to hop on from Williamsburg to DUMBO on Tuesday morning.

"Oh my gosh it's horrible," he said, while perched on a bench waiting for the ferry, which was 15 minutes behind schedule. "Have you seen the movie Dumb and Dumber? It's like when he says, 'You want to know the most annoying sound in the world?' It sounds like that, but made by a computer."

Though not everyone has gripes with the horn, like Justin Blackman, 20, who works for a company subcontracted by Hornblower to guide people to the right ferry on the Williamsburg dock.

"I'm used to it," he said. "It's the first time I heard a complaint about it."

(With additional reporting from Zoe Zeltner)