A new neighbor’s old boats spark controversy in BPC

BY John Bayles

Residents of Battery Park City appear to be developing a love-hate relationship with one of their new neighbors, Goldman Sachs. Since moving into their new building at 200 West Street, the company has announced plans to bring a new hotel and three new restaurants to the area. But another issue is garnering more attention, and in a bad way.

Since employees began moving into the building last November, many residents have complained about a ferry service used primarily to transport Sachs employees back and forth between the offices in B.P.C. and their waterfront offices in Jersey City.

“It’s been a pretty steady drum beat, the complaints have not dropped off,” said Battery Park City Authority President Jim Cavanaugh.

In mid-July, Cavanaugh sent a draft letter to the Port Authority that mentioned the complaints concerning the noisy boats. Chris Ward, executive director of the Port, responded and told Cavanaugh he would investigate the issue.

The Port Authority released a statement earlier this week that read, “The Port Authority built a state of the art ferry terminal that is a part of lower Manhattan’s resurgence and provides a critical transportation link for the region.  We will continue to meet with any resident who has concerns and work to mitigate any issues that arise.” 

The terminal, a $50 million venture, is owned by the Port Authority and the ferry service is operated by NYWaterway. The Port Authority is a tenant of the B.P.C.A.

Cavanuagh said representatives from NYWaterway appeared before the B.P.C.A. and the Community Board 1 Battery Park City Committee once the complaints first surfaced. They said they were going to replace the older boats, a group of catamarans called the Italian Class that had previously been taken out of service, with newer ones. Cavanaugh, however, said that solution never fully materialized.

“[The problem] went away for a very short period,” said Cavanaugh. “But then it came back.”

In an article published by the New York Times over the weekend, an unnamed source from Goldman Sachs said the company is looking into purchasing two new, state of the art boats to replace the older ones. Cavanaugh said that would seemingly put an end to issue. But, he wondered why Goldman had yet to inform him of their decision.

“What I find very strange is Goldman is well aware [of the issues]. I have directly voiced them to Goldman and if in fact they are planning on buying new boats, that would solve the problem,” said Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh said the Department of Environmental Protection recently paid a visit to the ferry terminal to test the noise levels.

“The ultimate recourse would be litigation, because those vessels would violate the terms of the agreement between B.P.C.A. and the Port,” said Cavanaugh. “But I really don’t think it will come to that.”

“The D.E.P. indicated the decimal levels exceeded the regulated amounts,” said Cavanaugh. “So clearly the older ferries are a problem and appear to violate noise standards.”

Representatives from Goldman Sachs did not return phone calls for this story prior to press time.