From Riverhead to Block Island by water taxi?

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Jim Ryan is proposing a water taxi service to ferry passengers from Greenport to Sag Harbor.

The man who once owned Rudy’s Coffee Shop in Mattituck is proposing a water taxi service for pedestrians between Greenport and Sag Harbor and eventually service to Riverhead, Southampton, East Hampton, Montauk and even Block Island.

Jim Ryan brought the idea before the Greenport Village Board Friday afternoon, raising the issue of the sign he would need to post to show the hours his 40-passenger boat would run. The board members listened and made no decision.

Eventually his complete plan to run the service out of the village’s Mitchell Park Marina would require village approval and payment of a dock fee.

Greenport Mayor David Nyce told Mr. Ryan, “Conceptually, it’s fantastic,” but added he and the trustees would have to discuss it further.

Mr. Ryan said later in an interview he wanted to start the service with one boat. While he would like to initiate it in April, he doesn’t yet have approval from Sag Harbor, he said. A similar idea was rejected by Sag Harbor about 10 years ago, according to Greenport Trustee Michael Osinski, but he said that times had changed and that the village might have a different attitude now.
Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride couldn’t be reached for comment.

Mr. Ryan said he would charge $10 per person for a one-way passenger trip. A shuttle bus in either Greenport or Sag Harbor, he said, would take passengers to local vineyards. By encouraging foot traffic in both localities, the service would be a boon to downtown businesses in both villages because it would not increase traffic and parking congestion, he said.

He’s not proposing to compete with North Ferry and South Ferry, he said. They provide both vehicle and foot-passenger service between Greenport, Shelter Island and Sag Harbor.

Mr. Ryan said he had spoken to Riverhead officials about his idea and said he had gotten a positive response. But Greenport Trustee Chris Kempner, who also is community development director for Riverhead, said that wasn’t true. If he ever did get permission in Riverhead, she said, the service couldn’t start anytime soon.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter denied Mr. Ryan’s assertion that Mr. Walter liked the concept. “I don’t think there’s much support for it,” Mr. Walter said in a Tuesday afternoon telephone interview. He said the service would turn his town into a parking lot for people heading east.

“I’m not sure how it helps businesses in Riverhead if someone parks and gets on a boat to visit other towns and villages farther east,” Mr. Walter said. “Maybe it would be great for Greenport and Sag Harbor. I’d much rather have individual boat owners dock in Riverhead,” he said.

[email protected]