Volume 20, Number 43 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN - MARCH 7 -- 13, 2008

Floating bus floatedfor Downtown heliport

Fuel, snack food, a bar and a ramp for amphibious tour buses could all be on their way to Pier 6, the site of Lower Manhattan’s only heliport.

The Port Authority, which currently operates the heliport near the Broad St. pier, asked the city Economic Development Corporation to take over, said Janel Patterson, an E.D.C. spokesperson. The E.D.C. is reviewing proposals for a new operator, who would continue running tourist flights and trips to Newark and J.F.K. international airports.

One change the E.D.C. is considering is to store fuel on the pier, Patterson said. Many of Manhattan’s other heliports have fueling stations, added Julie Nadel, chairperson of the Community Board 1 Waterfront Committee, where the E.D.C. made a presentation last month.

Currently, helicopters land at the Pier 6 heliport to drop off passengers, then take off to refuel at a different heliport only to return to Pier 6 for new passengers. A fueling station on the pier would reduce the number of flights, so the Waterfront Committee looked favorably at that idea, Nadel said.

Other new ideas for the pier’s future include a snack shop or a bar, though nothing is definite yet, Patterson said.

“They’re planning to beef up the facility,” Nadel said, adding that the new pier would be “state of the art.”

Another possibility for the pier came from Sloan Danenhower, a marine contractor from Connecticut. Danenhower wants to build an amphibious vehicle ramp at the end of Pier 6. The floating ramp would allow tour buses to easily make loops around Lower Manhattan, then hop in the water and circle Governors Island, Danenhower said.

C.B. 1 unanimously approved the idea of a ramp, though some were concerned that the amphibious vehicles would contribute to congestion Downtown. The ramp is particularly attractive because it would bring another river access point to the East River Waterfront, Nadel said. The only access point under the current plan is at Pier 15.

“The community supports that type of activity,” Nadel said, envisioning swimmers, kayakers and boaters all taking off from the ramp. “Because we’ve had so much discussion about the importance of access to the water directly, the community came in like ‘great!’”

Danenhower, who said he would build the amphibious vehicle ramp and contract an operator to use it, hopes to take advantage of C.B. 1’s approval when petitioning a variety of city agencies to support the project.

“Our sale to the city is that we will use New York labor to build [the ramp and vehicles],” Danenhower said. “We’ll do it for a fair price.”

—Julie Shapiro



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