04/25/13 4:00pm
04/25/2013 4:00 PM

FILE PHOTO | The Peconic Bay Water Jitney will not run this summer.

Citing the need to apply for federal grant money, Mattituck businessman Jim Ryan confirmed Tuesday that the Peconic Bay Water Jitney, the water taxi that made daily round trips from Greenport to Sag Harbor last summer, will not run this year.

“This is part of developing the business plan based on the facts we developed during the pilot program,” Mr. Ryan said in an interview. “It’s just part of the process.”

Mr. Ryan, who runs the company with Hampton Jitney president Geoff Lynch, said the Water Jitney is in the process of applying for a federal grant, which may require letters of recommendation from community leaders.

“From our standpoint the water shuttle was a great success,” said Greenport Mayor David Nyce, who said he’d write a recommendation letter on behalf of the Water Jitney should the need arise. “It’s disappointing it will not return this summer. We understand they have financial issues now, but I’m hopeful they will be able to resolve it.”

Mr. Ryan said that the Water Jitney, a half-million-dollar project, launched late last June and ran seven days a week through September, transporting about 17,000 passengers. While it did not make a profit, it came close to breaking even, he said.

The company spent roughly $100,000 last year on unforeseen costs, including $50,000 for the use of local parking lots and another $50,000 for bus transportation to and from those parking lots.

“The fear, which was understandable, was that anyone looking to use the service was going to park right down in the village, which was not the case,” Mr. Ryan said. “Now we can eliminate those costs because the need wasn’t there for it.”

Local business owners expressed hope that the water taxi would be back for another season.

“In a maritime community we should have connection by water to the other fork,” said Caroline Waloski, owner of the Sirens’ Song Gallery in Greenport. She said the ferry was “packed” every time she went on it.

“For economic health on the whole East End, I think it’s a very important thing to have,” Ms. Waloski added. “I hope they rethink this and bring it back.”

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01/09/13 3:00pm
01/09/2013 3:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Peconic Bay Water Jitney that had a trial run between Greenport and Sag Harbor last summer is unlikely to return this summer.

Hampton Jitney president Geoff Lynch, a partner with Mattituck businessman Jim Ryan in last summer’s Peconic Bay Water Jitney pilot program, reportedly told the Sag Harbor Village Board Tuesday night he doesn’t expect the water taxi that ran between Greenport Village and Sag Harbor to float a second season.

It would take an infusion of money from the federal government for the partners to continue the service, Mr. Lynch reportedly told the Sag Harbor Village Board.

He said while the ferry service was a huge hit with riders last summer, financially it was “a bust.”

It wasn’t the first time that Mr. Lynch made the comments about the unlikelihood of resuming water taxi service next summer. In September, he told the East End Transportation Council he didn’t envision a second season. Despite running five trips a day and carrying more than 15,000 passengers since it launched the passenger service in June, he said then, “It’s not a moneymaker.”

Barring investors showing an interest in underwriting the service, he said it wouldn’t be running again. The East End Transportation Council has been charged with exploring mass transit alternatives for the region and has representatives from the five East End towns.

At the time, Mr. Ryan denied that the ferry service wouldn’t resume in 2013. He was unavailable for comment today.

Greenport Village Board member Mary Bess Phillips said Mr. Lynch has asked to make a presentation to that group at either at its January 21 work session or January 28 regular meeting. But she had no information on the content of that presentation.

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12/22/12 8:00am
12/22/2012 8:00 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | The Peconic Bay Water Jitney debuted this summer for a 100-day run.

After one failed attempt and two years in the making, a water taxi linking the North and South forks launched this summer.

In June, Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan of Response Marine and Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch overcame a major legal hurdle after the Sag Harbor Village Board approved a measure to amend its code, which bars ferries, to allow the boat to operate on a 100-day trial.

The Peconic Bay Water Jitney, a 53-passenger ferry that ran five daily round trips between Sag Harbor and Greenport all summer long, had docked at the north end of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor Village and at Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport Village.

The 40-minute ferry run cost passengers $11 one way and $20 round trip.

Prior to the water taxi launching, both Shelter Island-based ferry companies — North Ferry and South Ferry — told The Suffolk Times they weren’t too worried that it would hurt their business and welcomed a new route linking the North and South forks.

It’s unclear if the blue and silver Peconic Bay Water Jitney will return next summer.

According to Shelter Island Town Councilman Chris Lewis, Mr. Lynch said there will be “no second summer” for the ferry unless investors are found.

Among the costs were $12,000 to rent parking lots in Sag Harbor and Greenport and the expense of shuttling passengers from their cars to the ferry terminals, which was a required service to ease concerns about downtown traffic congestion in both villages.

Mr. Ryan has denied Mr. Lewis’s claim and said he believed Mr. Lynch’s intention was to seek “additional investors to help support the service.”

“At this point, we’re focused on developing ridership,” Mr. Ryan said.

READ MORE ABOUT THE PECONIC BAY WATER JITNEY

12/04/12 1:55pm
12/04/2012 1:55 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Todd Gulluscio, a former field hockey coach in Greenport, resigned as the school’s athletic director to become Sag Harbor’s new athletic director.

As a Shelter Island resident, Todd Gulluscio’s normal workday routine has been to wake up in the morning and take a ferry to work. With his new job, Gulluscio will continue to do that, the only difference being that for now on, he will be taking a different ferry in the opposite direction.

Gulluscio submitted a letter of resignation as Greenport’s athletic director on Tuesday morning after having been appointed the Sag Harbor School District’s new athletic director the night before at a school board meeting.

Gulluscio called his new job “a great opportunity for me and my family.” He said: “I thought it was the best decision at this point in my career, and for my family. I loved Greenport and the people. Greenport will always hold a close place in my heart. It was a decision that wasn’t made lightly. … I feel like not only am I a good fit for their district, but I feel that the district is a good fit for me.”

Gulluscio, 35, became Greenport’s athletic director in August of 2010, succeeding long-time athletic director Robbie Costantini, who retired. He coached varsity field hockey for seven of those years.

Gulliuscio said he learned a lot in his time in Greenport.

“I walked in there seven and a half years ago, a 20-something-old phys ed teacher,” he said. “I’m walking away a much better person, a much better professional. I’ve been blessed to work with great people, and if it weren’t for those great people, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Gulluscio, who will begin his new job on Jan. 2, said it will feel strange not being associated with Greenport any longer. He said his son Tyler, a fourth-grader, wondered aloud what school their family should root for now at sporting events.

“You’ve been somewhere seven and half years, you have attachments,” Gulluscio said. “I’ll always root for Greenport, just maybe not when they’re playing Sag Harbor.”

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12/02/12 8:30am
12/02/2012 8:30 AM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Greenport native Harry Biechele, the subject of the “Harry Hellfire” documentary film premiering in Sag Harbor Sunday afternoon.

After six years of documenting Harry Biechele’s life through a series of complicated living situations, director Jim Morrison paints a portrait of his childhood friend, their continuing relationship and their shared passion for heavy metal music in a documentary film premiering this weekend.

“I changed the face of music in Greenport as we know it,” Mr. Biechele said of his influence on the growth of heavy metal music in Greenport during the 1980s. “And you can quote me on that.”

The 42-year-old native Greenporter is the subject of “Harry Hellfire,” which will be aired as part of the 5th annual Hamptons Take Two Film Festival in Sag Harbor Sunday afternoon. The festival includes other films with North Fork roots, including “Long May You Shine” about the restoration of Greenport’s Bug Lighthouse.

For six years, Mr. Morrison followed Mr. Biechele’s life of musical passion, frustration, pain, personal loss, drugs, alcohol and even a problem with chocolate.

“I’ve definitely cleaned up and being allergic to just about everything on the planet helped,” Mr. Biechele said. “I’m especially allergic to chocolate. After Halloween, I broke out all over the place.”

As “Harry Hellfire,” he wasn’t afraid to go trick-or-treating despite his age.

“I take my light saber, put on crazy-ass make-up, my cloak and robe and go out and scare the crap out of kids,” he said. “I love doing it. It’s not even a matter of the candy, it’s about going out and having fun.”

Local reactions to Mr. Biechele are also documented in “Harry Hellfire,” with one woman describing him as not just the “class clown” type, but another species altogether.

The film will be shown at the Bay Street Theatre at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. A question and answer session will follow.

09/19/12 5:00pm
09/19/2012 5:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | The Peconic Bay Water Jitney.

The Peconic Bay Water Jitney, which ran five daily round trips between Sag Harbor and Greenport all summer long, might not be back next year unless investors show an interest in underwriting the business, according to a Shelter Island Town Board member.

The 53-passenger ferry, running seven days a week until recently, has carried more than 15,000 people since launching at the end of June, but “it’s not a moneymaker” yet,  Councilwoman Chris Lewis told the Shelter Island Town Board Tuesday while reporting on an East End Transportation Council meeting she attended last week. The council, charged with exploring mass transit alternatives for the region, comprises representatives from the five East End towns.

Ms. Lewis said Geoffrey Lynch, president of Hampton Jitney, had reported at the meeting on the Water Jitney’s first season in operation and predicted that it wouldn’t be back. Mr. Lynch  partnered with Mattituck businessman Jim Ryan to launch the service.

According to Ms. Lewis, Mr. Lynch said there will be “no second summer” for the ferry unless investors are found.

In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Ryan denied the claim that the passenger ferry won’t be back next season if investors aren’t secured.

“[Mr. Lynch’s] intention sounds like he was looking for additional investors to help support the service,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Lynch wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The ferry was not a moneymaker, Ms. Lewis said, because there had been “so much outlay.”  Mr. Ryan agreed, but said he and Mr. Lynch knew the first season wouldn’t turn a profit.

“Before we even started, we knew we would run in the red,” Mr. Ryan said. “Next year, we’ll probably run in the red again. At this point, we’re focused on developing ridership.”

The 40-minute ferry run cost passengers $11 one way and $20 round trip.

Among the costs were $12,000 to rent parking lots in Sag Harbor and Greenport and the expense of shuttling passengers from their cars to the ferry terminals, which was a required service to ease concerns in both villages about downtown traffic congestion.

“They had hoped to pick up some commuter” traffic between the North and South forks, Ms. Lewis said, “but that didn’t work.”  Nevertheless, the partners continue to be interested. According to Ms. Lewis, the service generated so much enthusiasm that they had been encouraged “but they clearly need investors.”

Jennifer Gustavson contributed reporting for this story.

09/08/12 7:00am
09/08/2012 7:00 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan aboard the water taxi earlier this summer.

Peconic Bay Water Jitney officials announced this week that its passenger ferry service linking the North and South forks will run through September.

The 100-day temporary approval granted in June by the Suffolk County Legislature allows the water taxi to shuttle passengers between Greenport and Sag Harbor villages until Sept. 28.

But ferry officials said Wednesday they believe they might be able to extend ferry operations an additional few days, if the Legislature approves an amendment to the plan during its next general meeting Sept. 13.

Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan of Response Marine, who launched the ferry plan jointly with Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch, said he and Mr. Lynch have decided to extend service past Labor Day to find out if the 45-minute ride is popular during September festivals in both villages.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to have a better look at the look at the off-season,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Ryan said he didn’t need additional approvals from Greenport or Sag Harbor to run the ferry until Sept. 28 because those municipalities already agreed to allow the pilot program to operate through October.

Although the ferry had low ridership when it first launched in June, Mr. Ryan said he believes the pilot program was a success. After this season wraps up, he said he will work with both communities to tweak any changes to the plan before reintroducing it to Greenport and Sag Harbor next year. Peconic Bay Water Jitney customers have also provided feedback by answering questionnaires while aboard the boat, he added.

“We’ll only move forward with the input and support of both villages,” Mr. Ryan said. “Otherwise we won’t do it.”

The September schedule runs Thursday through Monday with extra late-day trips on Fridays and Saturdays. There will be no ferry service on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

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06/30/12 7:00am
06/30/2012 7:00 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Sag Harbor Village officials board the Peconic Bay Water Jitney Friday afternoon in Greenport.

East End visitors can now see the North and South forks in the same day by taking a 40-minute ride aboard the new Peconic Bay Water Jitney passenger ferry, which held a soft opening this week.

Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan of Response Marine, who proposed the 100-day water taxi pilot plan jointly with Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch, said ferry operations linking Greenport and Sag Harbor villages have gone “very well.”

“We’ve been on schedule,” Mr. Ryan said. “So far, so good.”

In Greenport, passengers get on and off the 53-passenger vessel near the camera obscura in Mitchell Park. From there, the ferry hugs the shoreline of Shelter Island and docks at the north end of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor.

Ferry operators said about 25 people rode the ferry as of 1 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride, along with Village Clerk Beth Kamper, Chief of Police Tom Fabiano and Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley took the 10 a.m. ferry to Greenport Friday morning in order to experience it first hand.

“The ride was very enjoyable,” Mr. Gilbride said. “I plan to take my kids and grandkids here.”

Sag Harbor Village officials said they ate brunch at the Coronet, visited Village Hall and window shopped.

“It was a great trip and beautiful ride,” Ms. Kamper said.

Peconic Bay Water Jitney also includes bus service to alleviate parking congestion in both villages.

Hampton Jitney shuttles passengers between Bridgehampton, East Hampton and the ferry dock in Sag Harbor. On the North Fork, shuttle service between Greenport School, where people would park, and Mitchell Park Marina is set to begin Saturday.

The ferry will make seven trips from each port Sundays through Wednesdays, starting at 7 a.m. from Greenport. There will be nine daily departures from each port Thursdays through Saturdays.

The estimated 40-minute ride will cost $11 for adults one way and $20 round trip.

For more information, visit peconicjitney.com.

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06/19/12 1:37pm
06/19/2012 1:37 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan aboard the water taxi.

The Peconic Bay Water Jitney passenger ferry linking the North and South forks is expected to be operational June 30 now that the Suffolk County Legislature has unanimously approved the ferry’s fares, schedule and license.

Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan of Response Marine, who is proposing the 100-day water taxi pilot plan jointly with Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch, said the county’s approval was the final piece needed in order to launch the first-ever Greenport-Sag Harbor passenger ferry.

In an interview after the Legislature approved the plan Tuesday, Mr. Ryan said he’s “delighted” about the county’s decision.

“We’re printing the tickets right now,” he said.

The estimated 40-minute ride will cost $11 for adults one way, $20 round trip. Fares for children under 12 would be $5.50 one way, $11 round trip.

CHECK OUT A VIDEO FROM ON BOARD THE FERRY

Mr. Ryan said his brother, John, a Catholic priest, will bless the boat June 27.

Mr. Ryan had said he planned to shrink wrap the boat with Hampton Jitney’s colors — silver and green. But on Tuesday, he said he has decided to color the boat navy, gray and black.

This is the second time in the past two years that Mr. Ryan has proposed the alternative transportation project.

The most recent plan includes bus service to alleviate parking congestion in both villages. Hampton Jitney will shuttle passengers between Bridgehampton, East Hampton and the ferry dock at the north end of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. On the North Fork, shuttle service will be provided between Greenport School and Mitchell Park Marina.

The 53-passenger vessel will tie up at Mitchell Park near the camera obscura.

The ferry will make seven trips from each port Sundays through Wednesdays, starting at 7 a.m. from Greenport. There will be nine daily departures from each port Thursdays through Saturdays.

The route between the North and South forks will hug the western shoreline of Shelter Island. During bad weather, an alternative route would move along the island’s eastern side. The ferry’s captain will ultimately decide the safest course through commercial channels, Mr. Ryan said.

The vessel was built in 2003 by Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport, Conn., for New York Water Taxi, which has leased it to Peconic Bay Water Jitney.

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06/13/12 12:00pm
06/13/2012 12:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan aboard the proposed water taxi earlier this month.

The first-ever Greenport-Sag Harbor passenger ferry is poised to launch later this month now that the Sag Harbor Village Board has signed off on the plan linking the North and South forks.

Sag Harbor Village, which agreed last month to amend its anti-ferry code to allow the ferry company to operate on a 100-day trial, approved the Peconic Bay Water Jitney application Tuesday night. The final hurdle is the Suffolk County Legislature’s approval of the ferry’s fares and schedule, which will be voted on June 19.

The Greenport Village Board unanimously approved the ferry plan May 10.

Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan of Response Marine, who is proposing the water taxi plan jointly with Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch, said that after the county signs off on the plan, he expects the first ferry ride from Greenport to Sag Harbor to happen sometime between June 20 and June 28.

“We’re excited about carrying out the service we proposed,” Mr. Ryan said.

This is the second time in the past two years that Mr. Ryan has proposed the alternative transportation project.

The most recent plan includes bus service to alleviate parking congestion in both villages. Hampton Jitney would shuttle passengers between Bridgehampton, East Hampton and the ferry dock at the north end of Long Wharf in  Sag Harbor. On the North Fork, shuttle service would be provided between Greenport School and Mitchell Park Marina.

The 53-passenger vessel would tie up at Mitchell Park near the camera obscura.

If approved, the ferry would make seven trips from each port Sundays through Wednesdays, starting at 7 a.m. from Greenport.

There would be nine daily departures from each port Thursdays through Saturdays. The estimated 40-minute ride will cost $11 for adults one way, $20 round trip. Fares for children under 12 would be $5.50 one way, $11 round trip.

The route between the North and South forks would hug the western shoreline of Shelter Island. During bad weather, an alternative route would move along the island’s eastern side. The ferry’s captain will ultimately decide the safest course through commercial channels, Mr. Ryan said.

The vessel was built in 2003 by Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport, Conn., for New York Water Taxi, which has leased it to Peconic Bay Water Jitney.

Instead of painting over the yellow passenger ferry, Mr. Ryan said he plans to shrink-wrap it with Hampton Jitney’s colors — silver and green.

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