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Protesters call for Rockaway Ferry extension

Lew Simon, Democratic district leader for the 23rd

Lew Simon, Democratic district leader for the 23rd Assembly District, holds up petition papers while speaking during a news conference at the City Hall held by Rockaway United to Save Our Ferry Aug. 21, 2014. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

"What do we want? Ferry! When do we want it? Now"!

Those were the chants heard on the steps of City Hall on Thursday evening as dozens of residents of Far Rockaway demanded that the ferry service connecting the southernmost part of Queens to the rest of the city not be terminated come October.

In an effort to attract the attention of Mayor Bill de Blasio, council members, assemblymen, borough presidents and the comptroller gathered to show support.

"Southern Queens and the Rockaways community are still recovering from Sandy and removing the ferry would be just another blow to so many people who are still struggling to recover; it would be detrimental not just to one community, but to every Queens neighborhood who relies on the ferry for transportation," said Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, who represents the Rockaways. "It's a necessity, not a luxury."

Ferry service transporting thousands of commuters began right after Superstorm Sandy hit the area and destroyed most of the subway infrastructure. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is asking for service to be extended to October 2015 as well as for weekend service to be added in order to help the borough's economic development.

Comptroller Scott Stringer blamed the city for not taking better care of the Rockaways and urged everyone to come together to find a financial solution to make sure the ferry service remains.

"We in city government think that what happened back then does not have to be accounted for now," said Stringer. "You can't give a little bit of a carrot and take it away when the houses aren't rebuilt, when the infrastructures aren't put back; we have to recognize we're not doing the right thing."

As the rally continued, Mayor de Blasio stepped out of City Hall with his security detail without acknowledging the crowd as they yelled "no ferry, no votes."

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