By Paula Katinas
Bay Ridge — Borough President Marty Markowitz is floating the idea of a comeback for the 69th Street ferry.
In his State of the Borough Address on Feb. 1, Markowitz proposed extending the city’s East River ferry service into Brooklyn to connect communities like Bay Ridge, Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay to Manhattan.
Markowitz said he would make it a priority this year to get the Bloomberg administration to approve the ferry service.
A ferry service operated at the 69th Street pier for many years, but the ferry only brought passengers back and forth between Bay Ridge and Staten Island. After the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened in 1964, connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island, the ferry service became extinct.
For a brief time in the 1990s, the 69th Pier accommodated a ferry between Bay Ridge and a pier near Wall Street. The service died due to a lack of riders, officials said.
Markowitz’s proposal won immediate praise from Bay Ridge elected officials.
Councilman Vincent Gentile pledged to do what he could to make the ferry service a reality.
“I congratulate Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz for seeing the need to reconnect Manhattan to southwest Brooklyn via the water and I welcome him to the fight. I have been banging the drum to extend the East River ferry service to connect Manhattan to Bay Ridge for almost a decade now and I’m excited to have him on board,” Gentile said.
In 2003, Gentile and then-Councilman David Yassky secured $500,000 in the city budget for the construction of a 20-foot-by-30-foot ferry slip on the pier. The ferry slip was never built, however.
“I look forward to sitting down with the Brooklyn Borough President to find a way to revive these plans and re-ignite this spark,” Gentile said.
He called the ferry service “much-needed and long overdue.”
State Sen. Marty Golden also had high praise for Markowitz.
“I am especially looking forward to working with him and the city to get the boats in the water from Manhattan to the 69th Street pier and Sheepshead Bay,” Golden said.
A ferry service would be environmentally friendly, according to Golden, who said that if residents can be convinced to leave their cars at home and take the ferry to work in Manhattan, it would reduce traffic on the Gowanus Expressway.
It might also save residents money, he said.
“As motorists are faced with an increase in gas prices and tolls, as well as traffic congestion, taking the waterways instead of the highways, will become more cost effective and convenient,” Golden said.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 attack, when service on the R and N trains was not up to par, Golden worked with city transportation officials to institute a ferry service between the Brooklyn Army Terminal pier in Sunset Park and Manhattan.
The service operated from 2001 to 2010.