SUNSET PARK — It’s always been free to park at the 58th Street Pier in Sunset Park, most recently to park and ride the ferry to Manhattan. But it might not be free anymore as commuters might have to pay municipal parking meters to park on the 58th Street Pier.
Commuters were surprised to see the new parking meters being installed late this past month without any fanfare or input from local communities who utilize the pier.
“I don’t think it’s fair – you offer an easy way for people to get into the city, something that is good for commuting, but instead they make it unaffordable,” said Skip King of Bay Ridge, who was picking up his wife from the ferry. “They are killing traveling in this city, it’s getting ridiculous.”
The price for all day parking for the pier has not yet been determined, according to Stephanie Baez, spokesman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the agency who authorized the installation of the meters. Instead, “We have decided to hold off on implementation. So, there are no immediate plans to start charging.”
However, Baez added that drivers parking for under two-hours would have “no charge” for visiting and for those fishing on the pier.
This comes after the Bklyner discovered that the EDC had installed numerous municipal parking meters throughout the pier that service the New York City Ferry and NYU Langone Medical Center to Manhattan. If implemented, any fee would be on top of the ferry toll of $2.75 each way and any transfer to a subway. It also appears that local communities had no input in the installation of the new meters.
The parking meters are currently wrapped in plastic and a sign has been posted on the pier.
“The parking meters on Pier 4 are not currently active. No payment is currently required. Paid parking will be implemented at a future date to be determined, and the local community will be notified in advance before the parking meters are activated. Future parking costs will be similar to other NYC municipal parking lots. NYCEDC anticipates continuing to allow free parking for cars parking at the lot for less than 2 hours at a time.”
When asked about the new meters being installed without community input, Baez replied, “We planned to start charging for parking on that pier in an effort to regulate demand because things were getting out of control due to the ferry.”
She added, “we have decided to hold off on implementation. So, there are no immediate plans to start charging. And if we were to start charging, we’d give plenty of advance notice before starting.”
“We didn’t know the city was putting meters there,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10 in Bay Ridge, a community that heavily uses the pier for commuting. “Yes, it’s out of our board area, but many Bay Ridge residents currently park and ride. I would imagine many will not be happy about that.”
Beckmann added, “I know many of our residents will be interested in voicing their opinions as they use the pier – the pier is within board 7, any presentation would be with them. I know many of our residents will be interested in voicing an opinion on the meters as it is their main mode of transportation to commute to Manhattan want to be informed. We will reach out to Board 7 on this.”
Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Community Board 7 said the EDC informed them at the end of 2018 that they planned to install meters on the pier. Only last night, representatives of EDC discussed a proposal with the board to add excursion and party boats to the pier.
“I’m not sure how many people from this community use the ferry,” Laufer said of Sunset Park residents. “The EDC needs to study where people coming from that use the pier. We would also encourage people to use public transportation. This is for people using the pier for longer-term parking – those using it under two-hours would be free. I’ve gotten a couple of complaints from board members, and a few who like it. I’m not sure it will affect this community that much.”
Councilman Carlos Menchaca who represents this community issued a statement saying, “Until we know the specifics of the parking regulations EDC is proposing, it’s premature to determine its impact. Of course, any parking plan near the ferry needs to accommodate all users without discouraging ferry use. I will work with EDC to ensure whatever is implemented meets these twin goals.”
Councilman Justin Brannan who represents Bay Ridge residents was not available for comment by press time.
John Westin of Bay Ridge expressed anger that the city would discourage ferry transit by adding an “additional tax on residents.”
“We already have to pay to drive here from our homes, then we pay the ferry, and then we have to pay a subway and now they are going to ask for us to pay for parking,” he said. “It’s going to become unaffordable to use the ferry here.”
Muo Li of Bay Ridge said she didn’t know that drivers would have to pay for parking to commute to the city.
“I was not aware of it, but if we have to pay for it, then we will then have to pay for it,” said Li as she entered her car on the pier. “I still have to figure it all out.”
The 58th Street ferry pier is one stop from the 68th Street Pier in Bay Ridge. MTA added the ferry stop after beginning a 14-month construction project in 2014 to fix the damaged R train link from Brooklyn to Manhattan. The Authority made the stop permanent after it became popular with locals and others commuting from outer boroughs, jamming the popular pier, in view of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan.
The ferry service at 58th Street provides commuters with a 15-minute ride to Manhattan.