South Ferry hopes dredging can be done to avoid crisis


PETER REICH PHOTO | When this dredging at Shell Beach in October 2012 took place, South Ferry president Cliff Clark was hoping the equipment would move to the channel between Shelter Island and North Haven, but now he’s looking to October 2014 and hoping no emergency will develop in the interim.

A recent announcement from State Senator Kenneth LaValle that $750,000 would be flowing to South Ferry is not quite the case, although the ferry service connecting Shelter Island with North Haven will benefit from what the money will buy.

The state money and funds from Suffolk County will combine to pay for dredging around ferry slips — a need previously identified by South Ferry president Cliff Clark — that has become more critical since Superstorm Sandy struck the area last October.

“We are elated” that money is now allocated for the work, Mr. Clark said, crediting both Mr. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. with helping to bring home the state money for the project. But the check won’t be coming to South Ferry, Mr. Clark said. It will go to the company hired to do the dredging.

It now looks like the project on the books back in October 2012 when dredging equipment was in the area addressing shoaling in the Shell Beach area, will happen in October 2014, Mr. Clark said.

He’s been lobbying for dredging of the channel between Shelter Island and North Haven for years, concerned that shoaling eventually could result in grounding boats. But while the need was more critical on the North Haven side in the past, but post-Sandy, sand from the embankment outside the Shelter Island office has shoaled into the slips on this side of the channel, posing critical concerns.

“We’re getting close to a problem,” Mr. Clark said, noting he doesn’t want to face a time when the shoaling would result in an inability to get boats into the ferry slips in an emergency.

“We’re very optimistic” now that the money is in place, that the dredging will take place in October 2014, he said.