Around New York City, waterfront construction like driving new pilings or replacing bulkheads can require review by no fewer than four state, federal and local agencies. A new online guide, Waterfront Navigator, aims to help waterway operators find their way through the regulatory maze.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation introduced the online toolkit at a May 12 conference hosted by the Waterfront Alliance, comprising industry and civic groups that advocate for revitalizing the city’s waterfront areas. Alliance president and CEO Roland Lewis said “the confusing labyrinth of approvals” for doing work the waterfront has been especially onerous for the maritime industry and non-profit groups.

The EDC collaborated and funded the project with Empire State Development, and worked with the state departments of State and Environmental Conservation, Army Corps of Engineers and the local Department of City Planning, which all have review and permitting powers over the waterfront.

The website will provide comprehensive information, clear expectations for applicants on the regulatory requirements and application steps they must go through, and realistic timeframes for the process to work.

EDC officials hope this will make for better permit applications and reduce the time for regulatory review and businesses waiting on permits to get their work done.

“New York City has long been a global maritime hub for waterfront business owners and development, yet it has been a perennial challenge to navigate the complicated waterfront permit application process. This is largely because of the multiple layers of federal, state, and local entities with jurisdictional responsibility for waterfront construction permitting,” EDC president Maria Torres-Springer said in announcing the website launch.

Captain Eric Johansson, a professor of marine transportation at the State University of New York Maritime College, and executive director of the Tug and Barge Committee Port of New York/New Jersey, said the Waterfront Navigator will be a big help to industry in its biggest East Coast hub.

“Waterfront Navigator will reduce the pain associated with the permit process making it easier to invest and create good-paying jobs in the city,” Johansson said.

“As an owner operator with marine facilities in New York Harbor, we found the New York waterfront permitting complicated in the past. The Waterfront Navigator site is a welcome, transparent way to navigate the waterfront permit process,” said Brian Hughes of Hughes Bros./Erie Basin Marine Associates.

The website will include a waterfront permitting assistance toolbox that consists of:

• An interactive project questionnaire

• Interagency FAQ sheets and checklists

• Step-by-step infographics

• Concise agency jurisdiction graphics

• Links to other waterfront resources

• A directory of federal, state and city agencies