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BY COLIN MIXSON
Hornblower’s fleet of ritzy cruise boats will cease blasting pop songs while docked at Pier 15, effective this week.
The change comes amid pressure from the city and local community members who were sick and tired of having to scream just to be heard over the ear-splitting tunes at the otherwise peaceful seaside recreation area.
“This is very good news,” said Pier 15 patron and Community Board 1 member Paul Hovitz. “The music was so loud that you could not have a conversation without raising your voice. I’d get calls on my cellphone, and people would ask me if I was in a nightclub.”
Until this week, Hornblower’s small armada of classy cruise ships pumped up the volume while loading and unloading passengers at Pier 15, a process that takes between 20 minutes to half an hour.
And after one ship leaves, it usually isn’t long before another comes to take its place, a process that guaranteed a near-constant drum of amplified music on the public pier, according to Hovitz.
“When one pulls out, the next pulls in, so there is veritably no time when we’re not barraged by this music,” Hovitz said.
To curb the noise, CB1 reached out to the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which manages Hornblower’s lease to use Pier 15, but the agency failed to respond to local concerns until the board’s Seaport Committee meeting on June 21, when EDC’s director of operations, Richard Cote, assured the board that the agency would clamp down on the cruise operator’s dock-side jamfests.
But Hornblower continued to blast tunes for another week until Downtown Express called up EDC to check the status of issue on Tuesday. An EDC spokesman called back later to say that the agency had actually reached out to Hornblower that very day to tell the company to turn down the tunes.
“EDC met with Hornblower today,” said spokesman Anthony Hogrebe on Tuesday. “They will be directing their employees to turn off external music when docked or idling.”
Hornblower acknowledged the change of policy on Wednesday, with a spokesman saying that music will be maintained at the level of background noise while docked, and that the protocol is currently being implemented, with captains and crew being notified of the change.
The Hornblower spokesman did not characterize the change as a result of pressure from the city, instead saying that the company was responding to the community’s wishes.
Hornblower made news in March after Mayor de Blasio announced that the cruise business would be awarded the city’s coveted contract to operate the Citywide Ferry Service, a heavily subsidized transit alternative offering commuters trips across the East River for the cost of a subway ride. The Citywide Ferry Service is expected to launch in 2018.