South Ferry: Dredging needed to keep boats from grounding

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Equipment at the mouth of West Neck Harbor was due to move to South Ferry for dredging last October until a Long Island Power Authority Cable became a problem.

South Ferry president Cliff Clark will be meeting on Valentine’s Day in Yaphank with representatives from Long Island Power Authority, Cablevision and public officials to discuss what he said is becoming an increasingly critical issue.

There isn’t yet a worry that it would be impossible to get an ambulance across to North Haven from Shelter Island in an emergency, but unless dredging takes place, that could happen in the future, Mr. Clark said.

What needs to be resolved is a 69-kilovolt LIPA cable installed in the 1990s, that should have been buried deeper to allow for dredging, Mr. Clark said. When dredging was expected to take place at the ferry slips in October 2012  LIPA said the area around the ferry slips couldn’t be dredged without potentially damaging its cable.

That sent Mr. Clark to county officials who told him they couldn’t address the problem during the dredging season that ended January 15, 2013. As soon as the season ended, county officials informed Mr. Clark they were moving forward with efforts to resolve the impasse with LIPA.

Mr. Clark expressed optimism that a compromise could be reached.

“We may have to compromise on dredging and not get as deep as we want,” Mr. Clark said. But LIPA would also have to compromise and he expressed optimism that company officials would be open to doing so.

On Thursday night, with the wind howling, ferries were still able to get into slips, but sometimes were dragging the bottom, according to Mr. Clark. He denied reports that Thursday night or Friday morning  ferries couldn’t carry trucks because of their weight, but said it was possible at some point with the winds and low tide Thursday night that an individual truck may have been held until the tide rose a bit.