By Clifford Michel
That’s the finding of sample tests commissioned by the city Economic Development Corp. and released as part of the environmental review for expansion of the fast ferry system, which is slated to connect Coney Island with Sunset Park and Lower Manhattan in 2021.
Two possible ferry dock locations near Bayview Avenue, in either Kaiser Park or the foot of West 33rd Street, would require dredging both during construction and on an ongoing basis to “provide necessary water depth,” according to EDC’s revised draft environmental impact statement released late last month.
The tests of chemicals at the creek’s bottom showed “the potential for acute toxicity to aquatic biota” — fish and other creatures that live in the waters, the document said.
In a bid to protect sea life, EDC’s report says, dredging will take measures to contain and remove the toxins.
Ida Sanoff, executive director of the Natural Resources Protective Association, a local environmental watchdog group, said she feels less than assured the clean-up will go as planned.
“We’ve been telling them since day one that sediments in that creek are wicked,” said Sanoff, referring to the 2015 announcement that ferry service could land at Coney Island Creek. “I am concerned about the ability to contain the contaminants during the dredging.”
She noted the private community of Sea Gate, which includes a swimming beach, is right next door. The creek is also popular with amateur and even commercial fishers, who frequently catch blue crabs and other wildlife. Horseshoe crabs also reside there. A dolphin even got stuck in the creek a few years back.
During the summer, the channel is shared by swimmers, kayakers, anglers and boaters.
“We even have people getting baptized in the creek, even though they’re not supposed to,” said Sanoff.
Wide Range of Concerns
Economic Development Corp. officials couldn’t immediately provide the estimated cost of necessary dredging.
The dig will allow ferries to safely travel into the harbor and be protected from high winds, according to EDC. Construction would be scheduled outside any restricted periods to protect spawning winter flounder and horseshoe crabs, as well as migrating species.
Construction dredging would be conducted over a duration of two to three days, minimizing the potential for impacts to Coney Island Creek, according to the agency.
Community Board 13’s district manager, Eddie Mark, told THE CITY that he’s heard a wide range of concerns regarding where to put the Coney Island ferry stop. Some community board members want the stop closer to Coney Island’s entertainment district.
Mark noted that EDC is meeting with Community Board 13’s transportation committee on Wednesday.
“Hopefully… we can pick a site we can agree on,” Mark said.
This story was originally published by THE CITY, an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.