Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year (and bus route), Red Hook!

A New Year's present from NYC Transit will arrive this weekend. The splitting of the B61 into two shorter routes - the B61 and B62 - will be put into effect on Sunday, this story from Gothamist is telling us.

The new B61 route will travel between the Ikea Terminal in Red Hook and Downtown Brooklyn (Smith Street and Livingston Street), while the northern B62 route will link Downtown Brooklyn (Boerum Place and Livingston Street) and Queens Plaza.

This has been a long anticipated improvement to the B61 route, one that should bring much better reliability and efficiency to the bus service. Hopefully, it will put an end to the long and frustrating waits at Jay Street for the Red Hook bound B61, often ending with the appearance of 2 or even 3 buses in close proximity, after winding their way through the long and congested route from Long Island City, Queens.

The new Red Hook bound B61 will begin at Jay Street - a change that is sure to, as NYC Transit is stating, "increase service reliability".

An excellent beginning to a better 2010.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New York Gets Its First Solar Electric Vehicle Charging Station - in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Following the recent news of New York's first zero-energy building coming to Red Hook, Brooklyn, here's more green energy, shipping container inspired innovation from "Beautiful Earth Group", a New York-based sustainable energy company that has its headquarters in Red Hook.

Story from Inhabitat here, and PR Press Release here.

And this, via Inhabitat, from Beautiful Earth president and CEO (and fellow ex-Cobble Hill Playgroup dad), Lex Heslin, about this innovative and "groundbreaking" development.

It never ceases to amaze me, when I get behind the wheel of this 95 mph sports car, that it doesn’t use a single drop of gasoline, and that all of its power comes from the solar energy we collect right here on the Brooklyn waterfront.

Go Lex!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

RED's "Holiday in the Hook" - 18th, 19th, 20th December

Red Hook Economic Development (R.E.D.) is a new group put together by many Red Hook businesses. They are already getting some things done, having created the "Red Friday" promotion that happened the day after Thanksgiving (post here), and I believe they've had a hand in helping Red Hook stores to get into the holiday spirit with lights and decorations in their windows, etc. as well as the RED HOOK lights on Van Brunt Street at Hamilton Avenue.

In that vein, RED has come up with "Holiday in the Hook", with many stores offering discounts or special offers.

This teaser from RED's Perian Carson -

Come out to RED's upcoming Holiday in the Hook! Discounts? Yes. But also blacksmithing demos, cute animal themed cards, and plenty of holiday drinks and treats! Fun for all, right in your own back yard.

There are many offers and discounts to be had - here's what's listed on the above flier and on RED's "Holiday in the Hook" Facebook page.


This weekend come to Red Hook and get the pre-holiday deals in stores, restaurants and bars. Walk along the festive streets and pick up gifts for your loved one...or YOU and when your bags are full stop and grab a bite or beverage

Look for the sign in participating businesses but here are just a few...

Foxy & Winston, 392 Van Brunt - open 11- 7 each day
10% off shopping plus a Foxy & Winston tote w/ $50 purchase

Home/Made, 293 Van Brunt
Bring photo taken w/ Red Hook Santa for sparkling pomegranate cocktail or hot cocoa

Kentler International Drawing Space, 353 Van Brunt - open Fri + Sat 12 - 7 and Sun 12 - 5
Big Idea art exhibition; enjoy holiday refreshments

Kevin's, 277 Van Brunt - open Fri + Sat 6 -11pm
After dinner, enjoy selection of free edible ornaments dipped in Belgium chocolate

LUCE onthehook, 281 Van Brunt - open Fri 12 - 8 Sat 12 - 8 + Sun 12 - 6
Free gift w/ $25 purchase

Lucky Gallery, 176 Richards - open Sat + Sun 1 - 6
View art and enjoy free beer and wine

Metal and Thread, 398 Van Brunt - open 10 - 8 each day
Tax Free shopping plus handmade gift bag with purchase

Red Hook Lobster Pound, 284 Van Brunt - open 12 - 6 each day
Taking orders for Christmas lobster; Buy 10 have one on us!

SAIPUA, 147 Van Dyke - open 12 - 6 each day
Visit our new shop, enjoy hot cider and ginger cookies

She-Weld, 151 Van Dyke - open Fri + Sat 12 - 6
Specials on forged red hooks + other metal ornaments, gifts; blacksmithing demos

Space 414 Van Brunt - open Sat + Sun 12 - 6pm
20% off all artwork, complimentary wine

Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie, 204 Van Dyke @ Pier 41 - open 10 - 5 each day
Gift certificates available and pies aplenty!

Thrifty Couture, 294 Van Brunt - open 11- 7 each day

Red Lipstick 390 Van Brunt - open Fri Sat + Sun
10% discount when you purchase $100 or more

Friday, December 11, 2009

Let it Salt, Let it Salt, Let it Salt.

The Columbia Waterfront is getting a White Christmas courtesy of ASI - American Stevedoring, the operators of the Container Port. "The Word On Columbia Street" blog has coverage and pics here.

Unfortunately, this is a re-run of a movie we've seen before. In April this year, the Columbia Waterfront District was peppered (ahem, again) with salt from the huge uncovered salt pile that is stored on one of ASI's piers (my post here). At the time, after much uproar from the community, certain representatives took a role in "resolving" the issue. The remedy - now proved to be patently ineffective - was deemed to be covering the mountain of salt with a large black tarp (or something like that).

Here's what I wrote at the time -

"Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Councilman David Yassky have been working on the salt pile issue with Councilman Bill DiBlasio. As Mike McLaughlin in his Brooklyn Paper article stated,

"DeBlasio has been working with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–Coney Island) and Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) to get the port’s operator, American Stevedoring, to control the buffeting problem. Nadler and Yassky are staunch supporters — and large donation recipients — of the port company."

Bill DiBlasio is moving on to take the post of Public Advocate, though, by the look of this "Pardon Me For Asking" story (here and here), he doesn't seem to be doing much preliminary "advocating" for the public - for the people of Carroll Gardens, at least. So, hopefully, Brad Lander, the Councilmember-elect and Messrs. Nadler and Yassky will advocate for a quick resolution to this latest situation. Mind you, judging from the pictures I've seen on "The Word", it looks like the damage is already done.

To me this all gets back to the whole matter of the responsible and equitable use of the piers.

Salt blows over residential neighbors, ships emit their dangerous fumes, trucks pollute our air and congest our neighborhood streets - all avoidable consequences of the activities at the port.

Where's the push for a long-term fix?

As I wrote in my previous post -

"Neither salt nor carcinogenic diesel fumes belong in our back yards."

General Red Hook News and Ephemera - via Amy Haimerl

Local resident, Amy Haimerl, sends out a (mostly) weekly email titled “General Red Hook News and Ephemera”. I’ve copied the most recent mailing below, but if you would like to receive this comprehensive update of Red Hook news and information, she told me you can email her at amy.haimerl(at) and she’ll put you on her list - whether you’re naughty or nice.

Happy Holidays.

Dog News:

1. In the spirit of the holidays, I want to draw your attention to two groups organizing pet-food drives.

First, the city’s shelter, Animal Care & Control, is looking for gently used toys, along with unopened pet food, blankets and towels. They are underfunded and overwhelmed by the sheer number of animals they have to care for. As dog owners, maybe we can help out. Because really, even though I’m not religious, I can hear my mother saying: “There but for the grace of God goes Maddie.”

Second, the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged is hosting a food drive through Dec. 31. This helps the elderly keep their pets in their homes and cared for. Plus, the organization needs for volunteers to help walk dogs (or clean cat boxes if you’re more inclined toward felines).

2. We are going to be losing one of our members: Richie Nelson, who owns Achilles, is leaving us for New Jersey. Though we will be sad to lose him and his family, congratulations are in order. They recently closed on a home.

3. Save the date: On January 20, Red Hook Dog will host our quarterly membership meeting/public dialogue on park issues. Representatives from Parks as well as officers from the 76 and parks police will be on hand to answer questions. Starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Park House.

4. How do you plan to dispose of your Christmas tree? Set it out on the curb or bring it to Coffey Park on the morning of Jan. 9 for Mulchfest!

Red Hook Dog volunteers will be scouring the neighborhood for trees, dragging them to Coffey Park and then driving them to a chipping station to be turned into mulch for the Parks Department.

We will need volunteers on the day of the event (super fun!) and also people to help post fliers in the neighborhood. If you’re interested, email me back.

General News:

1. The blog Brokelyn says the Red Hook Community Justice Center needs present wrappers this Sat. You know you’re good with tape.

2. The blog TravelEatDrink featured Red Hook is week. They have the old standbys, but it’s worth checking out to see where the Good Fork’s owners like to eat and drink in their off hours.

3. The horror flick “Red Hook” is now available on Time Warner On Demand. I can’t give you a review, though, because I’m a big scaredy cat. Anyone else seen it?

4. Ever wondered about the crazy-looking sea shack across from Fairway? It’s the Red Hook Yacht Club. Answers here.

Food News:

1. Wine from the Red Hook Winery is finally available. Yay! But at $45 a bottle. Boo! The new Brooklyn Wine Exchange at Atlantic and Court is carrying the vintages, if you want to try them. And the owners are “among the best winemakers in America” whose other labels can go for $200 a bottle.

2. Red Hook’s own Brad Farmerie, and the chef at Public, could be NYC’s “Hottest Chef.”

3. The blog Gastrochic discovered Red Hook Beef Jerky, which is quite amazing. And it’s run by a couple in the neighborhood who also have a lovely Rottie. You can find the snacks at Ice House.


1. SATURDAY: “Kids Picks” at Kentler International Drawing Space. Reception from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Kids Picks is curated by local 5th graders from the Brooklyn New School, who chose selections from the Kentler Flatfiles to produce this show.

2. SATURDAY: Bi-Annual Butter by Nadia Sample Sale. 11 to 7. 405 Van Brunt St. These are the great jersey dresses that can be twisted into a million configurations. (Well, if you are talented. I am not. I have dress fail.)

3. SUNDAY: Ditto the sample sale. But from Noon to 5.

4. FUTURE: Monthly Red Hook Dog cleanup of Coffey Park. 9 a.m. We start right after dog hour; bring bags for trash and gloves. (We do this the first Sunday of every month.)

5. FUTURE: Monthly Sunday at Sunny’s literary readings. January 3 at 3 p.m.

6. FUTURE: Monthly meeting with the 76th Precinct. January 5 at 7 p.m.

7. FUTURE: NYC MulchFest 2010: Jan. 9 and 10! What to do with your X-mas tree? Bring to Coffey Park and other parks to be chipped into mulch.

8. FUTURE: Community Board 6 meeting. 6:30 p.m. January 13

9. FUTURE: Quarterly Red Hook Dog meeting. 7:30 p.m. Coffey Park in the Park House

10. ONGOING: Yoga comes back to Red Hook. Classes are on Monday and Thursday, 6:15 to 7:30 p.m., in the Red Hook Studio building. $10 or pay what you can.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

NYC's First ‘Zero Energy Building’ Coming to Red Hook

Image courtesy of

Redhook Green (their website here) has just distributed this press release for their innovative new project - a live-work, "net zero energy building" to be constructed on the corner of Dikeman and Conover Streets in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

From Redhook Green's website -

" The first floor consists of large live/work loft areas arranged on either side of an exterior court. Glass walls adjoining the court can be opened to allow the complete integration of the garden, living, and work areas. The form of the house is inspired by the shipping containers stacked along the adjacent waterfront. Modular units, proportioned similarly to shipping containers are stacked and shifted to create a variety of terraces and overviews."

Redhook Green is the brainchild of New York technology and media entrepreneur, Jay Amato. Mr. Amato states in this press release that this will be a project "that can serve as an example of how we can live and work responsibly."

Live and Work responsibly .... sounds good to me.

From the release, Mr. Amato states that -

Redhook Green "will become a very visible symbol of the continuing reinvention of one of New York City’s oldest neighborhoods,” and will "practically illustrate the movement towards zero-energy building to the world’s greatest city."

Additionally, explaining how this is to be acheived,

"Bringing to bear exciting new building materials, improved wind and solar technologies and more energy-efficient HVAC and home appliances, as well as state of the art sustainability strategies, Redhook Green will be a powerful answer to the question of what urban centers can do to reduce our dependency on foreign oil via renewable resources and to significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.”

This project seems like an excellent example of how a neighborhood such as ours, with a mix of industry and residential use - something local artist and resident John P. Missale apparently dubbed "Residustrial" - can retain its character, build on its residential stock and increase economic activity, without adding further to the burden of pollution - locally or globally.

To quote Mr. Amato again -

An example of how to "live and work responsibly".

View Redhook Green in a larger map

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Red Friday" in Red Hook - November 27th

Please check out this exciting initiative from R.E.D - Red Hook Economic Development, a new group formed by many of Red Hook's small businesses.

Participating businesses will offering discounts on many of their wares - so don't miss the chance to pick up some bargains from these unique local stores. "The Word On Columbia Street" blog has some info here.

And this is from RED's Facebook Page. -

We've all heard of BLACK FRIDAY but, RED FRIDAY?

You bet!

Come to Red Hook, Brooklyn the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 27th, and get discounts on food, clothing, housewares and gifts. Participating businesses will be offering deals you can't pass up.

Walk along Van Brunt Street from Hamilton Avenue to the Water and down the cobblestone side-streets to start your holiday shopping season. When your feet need a rest, relax in some of the best restaurants, bars and cafes in this City.

Participating Businesses Include:

Metal & Thread


Red Lipstick

Foxy & Winston

Pier Glass



Suite 352 Hair Boutique

Thrifty Couture

Fort Defiance

Hair or No Hair

Nate's Pharmacy

Bait & Tackle


Liberty Sunset Garden Center

and more being added every day!

Oh, and don't forget to visit gorgeous Valentino Pier for the BEST view of the Statue of Liberty!! Bring your camera!

Look for the RED FRIDAY sign in shoppe windows to get the deals!

Well done, RED!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Brooklyn Paper's 30 Year Anniversary - Talking About The Red Hook Container Terminal

Brooklyn Piers - Circa 1982, courtesy of the Brooklyn Paper

As Part of their 30 year Anniversary edition, the Brooklyn Paper has a couple of articles about Red Hook.

Michael P. Ventura, in his article (titled on-line, "On the waterfront, but not ‘On the Waterfront’) refers to the 1960's plan to turn Red Hook's Piers into a fully fledged, large-scale container terminal. This plan would have required the demolition of most every building close to waterfront, including houses in areas West of the BQE on the Northern side of Hamilton Avenue - what is now referred to as the Columbia Street Waterfront District.

In another article in the Brooklyn Paper about Carroll Gardens, here, local businessman and activist, Buddy Scotto, referring to this plan, is quoted:

“Everything on the waterfront was to be demolished to make way” for the container port, Scotto said. "People would have to be relocated. The little mom and pop shops on Union Street and Columbia Street — like Cioffi’s, where people would line up to buy Italian pastries during the holidays — what would become of them?”

“A cloud of condemnation fell over the place,” Scotto said. “It got so bad, it felt like a bombed-out area.”

As we know, the large scale containerization plan never came to be, with most container operations being drawn to New Jersey, its greater "upland" area and connection to the national railway system. In fact, someone once explained to me that if Red Hook's Container Terminal was to create the same amount of "upland" space required for the storage of the containers as the Port of Elizabeth, the entire area between the waterfront and Prospect Park would have to be flattened. A quick Google Earth comparison of Red Hook terminal's tiny footprint to the vast acres of upland space at the container ports on the New Jersey side would seem to confirm that bewildering statement.

But, as noted by Ventura in the earlier piece, the failed containerization plan became a defining moment for Red Hook initiating a period that, he says, "hit hard". A time from which the neighborhood is still "struggling to recover".

It was a period that led to the halving of Red Hook's residential population and the blighting of the neighborhood, seemingly giving Red Hook the green light to become, by the 80's, as described by Red Hook Civic Association Co-President John McGettrick, "the city’s dumping ground" - complete with 20 waste transfer stations, two planned sludge processing facilities and a dirty cement plant, located at the site of the ATF Building, alongside what is now Valentino Pier.

John McGettrick goes on in the article to note that most of what has come in the 20 or so years after this period has been an improvement. One waste transfer station remains, but the neighborhood fought and won the battle, lead by the group G.A.G.S. (Groups Against Garbage Sites), to keep more more garbage dumps out of the neighborhood - a plan pushed by the Giuliani administration. The old cement factory was closed down, replaced by the ATF building - it's chain-link enclosed parking lot has some of the best views of New York Harbor! - and the neighboring plot of waterfront land eventually became the much loved Valentino Pier and Park.

There have been other contentious matters. The coming of both Fairway and Ikea created concern and protest. Ikea, because its coming into the neighborhood came at the price of destroying historic waterfront infrastructure - the graving dock - and the questionable use of valuable waterfront land. There were also worries because the store was seen as a harbinger of more "big box" stores on the Red Hook waterfront. We'll wait to see if those fears are realized with the Thor Equities plan for a BJ's on the old Revere Sugar site. Also, cement plants seem to be back on the list of Red Hook businesses after the announcement of the unpopular plan to establish such an operation on a plot of land next to Ikea, the Erie Basin Park, across the street from Added Value Organic Farm, Red Hook Ballfields and on the proposed Brooklyn Greenway route. After outcry about the inappropriateness of the site and the adverse effects of the cement dust and pollution on the neighborhood's residents' health, children playing in the fields and the organic farm, the City and State have said that they will be keeping the plant on a "short leash" (Gary Buiso's Brooklyn Courier story here). Again, we'll have to wait and see on that one.

However, it's the been the proposed uses of the Red Hook Piers that have most clearly defined the direction and vision for the future of the neighborhood. The proposed uses of the site have varied from the previously mentioned disastrous plan to raze the whole neighborhood and create a huge container terminal, to the much more recent 2005 proposal when Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) were pushing for a plan that would have replaced the existing, much smaller container port occupying Piers 7-12 with other uses. The 2005 plan was created in response to goals set through consultation with the community and articulated by Community Board 6 and Red Hook's 197a Plan. It included some new residential buildings on Columbia Street, a Cruise Terminal on Piers 12 and possibly another on Pier 10, a hotel, extensive public access, open green space, as well as other "maritime-themed" activities (sailing school, marina, boat building and other vendors and artisans) and expanded transportation options - water taxi, ferries, etc. This plan got as far as the establishment of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on Pier 12 (opened in 2006) and the acquisition of Pier 11 on the Atlantic Basin, but in late 2007 the rest of the plan, like the previously mentioned one, was abandoned. The political pressure from various supporters of the Container Terminal's operators, American Stevedoring - ASI, (some who were also recipients of campaign contributions from ASI), including Rep. Jerry Nadler, Councilman David Yassky and Speaker Christine Quinn (story here) and their cries about the loss or relocation of the 70 or so jobs that the terminal supported, seemed to dissuade the Mayor and his team from going any further. The Container Terminal and ASI would stay.

American Stevedoring's continuing operation of the container terminal was secured soon after with a new 10-year lease (no-one else was allowed to tender for the operation), and new leadership at the Maritime section of the EDC pushed for a whole new plan for the remaining section of the waterfront not leased to ASI - essentially Pier 11 and the Atlantic Basin. The new team at the EDC apparently thought of the City's previous plan as a "yuppie wonderland" - their words, not mine - and they stated that their goal was to "consolidate and expand" the operations of the Container Terminal.

Anyone who has been paying attention (or reading this blog) knows what has happened since with the EDC's contentious plan, announced earlier this year, for the relocation of Phoenix Beverages to the Brooklyn Piers - taking both Pier 7 and 11 and their sheds (despite only initially wanting either one OR the other) with a 20-year lease and bringing 200 more truck trips a day to our neighborhood. The Atlantic Basin water space is not being used by Phoenix. However, in a small concession to the call for waterfront access and open space, PortSide New York has been allocated a 600 foot frontage on the Basin, as well as being given a portion of the Pier 11 shed to use for their home base. They will be mooring their ship, the Mary Whalen, in the Basin and will be using the historic vessel to mount their cultural activities and community outreach programs. There has also been a commitment to allow the Brooklyn Greenway to build their route along the waterfront instead of pushing it onto Van Brunt Street, as the EDC had previously wanted.

Looking forward, it is still this small portion of the waterfront that has the potential to create a lasting effect on the community of which it is a part. What else can come to the Atlantic Basin? Will there be a call to create more activities within the Basin's "blue space"? What about the establishment of water-borne transportation based within the basin - Water Taxi, Governor's Island Ferry? Could the underused asphalt parking lots surrounding the Cruise Terminal and Pier 11 be used for community activities - stalls, markets, etc? Will we demand more access to the waterfront - especially around the Cruise Terminal - and will we advocate for the creation of some open space to enjoy the waterborne activities, as is seen in other parts of the world? Will there be further consideration and assessment of ways this valuable and historic asset can be used to nourish the growing number of Red Hook residents, to attract more people to visit the neighborhood and to bolster the small businesses and resident-entrepreneurs popping up all over the neighborhood - including the many resident-owned stores, old and new, along Van Brunt Street and beyond? Will the owners of the dormant 160 Imlay Street building overlooking the Atlantic Basin site take advantage of its zoning, and turn it into a home for new residents and a place for commercial use - maybe even live-work space?

Additionally - and this is my personal cause - will the EDC, Port Authority, City of New York and all involved finally come good on making sure the activities of the port don't pollute the residents who are their neighbors. Will they get "shore power" established for the cruise ships and container ships to finally put an end to the negative impact of their carcinogenic diesel smokestack emissions on our residents? Will they get a clean truck program up and running, as they are doing successfully in Long Beach and elsewhere on the West Coast? (story here). Surely economic development shouldn't happen at the expense of the health of our most vulnerable residents.

So, what will the next 30 years bring to Red Hook? Will the Container Terminal eventually relocate to where some say is a "better" location - Sunset Park - where there is access to more upland space as well as the potential for regional rail connection via the proposed Cross Harbor Rail Tunnel (a favorite project of Rep. Nadler)? Will it remain at its Red Hook location and "grow", as the EDC has suggested. What will the effect of the plans for Governor's Island have on its closest neighbor? Will Chris Ward, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, follow up on his statements made earlier this year? - covered in the Brooklyn Eagle (here) -

"The future of the Brooklyn waterfront is tied to and intrinsically linked to our ability to rebuild Governor’s Island,” he said “We must look at Governor’s Island as a takeoff point.

“We need integrated planning now. We need to be smart enough about the Brooklyn waterfront to ask what we want to keep and what we want to move out.”

Referring to the containerport in Red Hook, its proximity to the Cruise Ship Terminal and Governors Island and their needs for hotel rooms and services and potential ferries, he said the city needs to ask, “Is this where we want our last working containerport?”

Ward recommends that the containerport be moved south to 39th Street in Sunset Park in space where automobiles are shipped in and stored now."

Mr. Ward hasn't exactly followed through with any more statements on this matter.

Regardless, will it be these "outside" entities making decisions (or not) for our neighborhood, or will the Red Hook community speak clearly and strongly for what it wants?

Whatever happens, as always, it's surely the use of the precious Red Hook waterfront that will continue to determine the character of our neighborhood.

For better, or for worse.

The Atlantic Basin, Circa 1911 - via

Thursday, November 19, 2009

OFF THE HOOK : Original Plays by Red Hook Kids - Friday and Saturday

This inspiring Falconworks Artists Group event takes the stage again this weekend. Shows are presented at PS 15 - The Patrick Daly School. The address is 71 Sullivan Street (between Van Brunt and Richards) in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Admission is free!

Call (718)395-3218 for reservations and information. You can also make reservations online here.

Times: Friday, November 20, 2009 at 7:00 PM - Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Description: Six young playwrights, with the support of professional writers, actors, directors, and creative artists, take center stage in their own plays for an evening of funny, moving, raw, original theater.

This from the Falconworks website -

Theater By and For Communities

Falconworks Artists Group is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and empower communities and individuals through theater that addresses personal and local issues. Founded in 1997 and incorporated in 2004, Falconworks offers the opportunity for each of our program participants to reflect on the reality of their lives, to ask questions, and discover their own power to make a positive change. Our current activities include workshops in play-writing and performance that encourage individuals to tell their own stories; partnerships with community-based organizations to develop theater that educates audiences and participants about pressing local issues; and mentoring by theater professionals and collaborations in theater that promote self-worth.

This is a great event - come out and support these kids, this worthy organization and the great work they do.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New York Times Story On "Counterintuitive" Red Hook Cement Plant (plus NEW UPDATES)

Today's New York Times has a story (here) about the soon-to-open Cement Plant in Red Hook. This matter has been covered fairly well in the local press - The Brooklyn Papers, The Brooklyn Courier and in blogs such as this one (my post here). However, it's the first time a city-wide paper has done a story on this contentious development and it's great to see the matter get the visibility it deserves, especially in such an important publication as the NY Times.

In the article titled (using what would be a typically Brooklyn Paper-esque pun) "Dust Has Yet To Settle Over New Concrete Plant", by Joseph Berger, it is noted that the placement of the plant next to "yellow-and-blue Ikea next door, heavily used baseball fields across the street, and a 2.75-acre farm nearby on a former playground" is causing great concern. Noting that such developments may have come to Red Hook without objection years before, but that the timing of this development had created enough outrage from Red Hook's 11,000 residents to stage protests and garner 700 signatures on a letter of opposition to the plant, with signatures from such allies as representatives from the Red Hook Houses, the Red Hook Civic Association, Added Value Organic Farm and many others.

The article neglected to mention that the site was also located right next to the proposed Brooklyn Greenway route - another seemingly incompatible neighbor to add to the long list.

The concern is that the dust from the plant would not only coat the organic greens produced at the Added Value Organic Farm - produce that often ends up on the the menu of some of Brooklyn's finest eateries - not to mention into their workers' lungs, but that the dust would also compromise the air quality in the much used playing fields adjacent to the Cement Plant site. These fields are used, as the article notes, by "Brooklyn’s private schools as well as the borough’s mosaic of immigrants. The park is home to a rugby league, a Mexican baseball league and a Chabad Hasidic league."

Peter Morales, the commissioner of the Red Hook Little League, is quoted as saying that "during the season six of his teams play three days a week across from the plant."

“The kids running the bases breathe through their mouths, and they’re going to be inhaling this stuff,” he said.

One other interested party not specifically mentioned in this article - one that would seem to have problems with the location of this plant - is Xavier High School. Xavier, as this NY Post Article by Gary Buiso notes, has been approved to "refurbish the football field on Columbia Street (directly across the street from the Cement Plant), installing synthetic turf and bright lights making nighttime games or practices a new possibility. Xavier High School recently completed raising $1.5 million for a restoration of the field in Red Hook Park."

This deal was done before news of the new Cement Plant came to light ... I wonder what Xavier have to say about their new neighbor - especially after going through this long process, seeking Community Board 6 and Department of Parks and Recreation approval, carefully planning and painstakingly raising all that money.

It was interesting to see the spokesperson from Ikea quoted in the piece as well. Early on it seemed as though Ikea would be making its objections to their new neighbors clearly known. But, as the article states, "Ikea, less than pleased, realized there was nothing it could do. Joseph Roth, Ikea’s director of public affairs, said that the company hoped that if the plant actually opened, it would be “a good neighbor.”"

I'm sure Ikea is still not pleased about the dust-creating hoppers from the plant being mere feet from their air conditioning intakes ... what challenges that poses for the efficient operation of those units, their maintenance and the effects on air quality within the store is another unknown in this whole equation.

A couple of phrases from this article resonated with me. Mr. Berger, the journalist, referred to Red Hook's "split-personality", a nod to the mixed-use character of Red Hook, with industry, commercial and residential all co-habitating. He also implies that, given Red Hook was not the "gritty, tumbledown" neighborhood in which previously (perhaps) a cement plant would have been seen as appropriate, it was the "timing" of the introduction of the plant that was the problem. The decision seemed archaic. Mr. Berger counts the introduction of the cement plant as running against "counterintuitive changes" that have come to the neighborhood.

"Counterintuitive"? That also seemed to me like as good as description as any for some of the developments being introduced to our neighborhood - including the cement plant. I had thought of others - illogical, inappropriate, short-sighted, or just plain wrong. The reality of Red Hook to those that live here can be vastly different than to those who merely gaze at zoning maps, or drive through on their way to IKEA or Fairway, or read articles referring to Red Hook as an "industrial neighborhood". Well it's not just an industrial neighborhood. Over 11,000 people live here - many in public housing. Families make their homes here and more are coming. Small businesses are opening by the week - many of them owned by residents. Our neighbors, from Red Hook and beyond, use the parks, bike routes and (albeit it limited) waterfront access and associated activities to enrich their lives. People are living their lives in this neighborhood, trying to make the most of it and trying to ensure that their health is not compromised by the activities of their neighbors. To ignore this fact is a slap to the face of those residents.

The article seems to acknowledge this fact. You don't need an outdated zoning map to let you know whether these developments are appropriate or not.

Wander around, have a chat to a local, drop into a store, get a feel for the place.

It's obvious.

View Proposed Cement Plant in a larger map

UPDATE: The Blog "Evironmental and Urban Economics - Thoughts on environmental and urban issues from an economics perspective." has an interesting post on this matter titled - "Is Brooklyn a Green City - New Cement Production in Red Hook"

In the post, Mathew E. Kahn asks -

"as Manhattan's boroughs become yuppie --- where should the nasty production activity take place? Where is the path of least resistance? Does this community "like" pollution? No, they are probably a renter; poor; low voice community who faces transaction costs to organize to oppose the entry of such a production facility. NIMBY politics causes this search . The issue is a property rights issue. Do communities have the right to not face such noxious facilities? Does the cement plant need to make a transfer to the community it enters and how large should that transfer be to compensate the "victims" for the quality of life damage its production causes."

Also he states -

"if the land where the Cement Plant is about to open has been zoned "nasty industrial" then property next to it should sell for a price discount to reflect the pollution damage that is likely to be caused by their neighbor."

He continues -

"if the land where the Cement Plant is about to open has been zoned "nasty industrial" then property next to it should sell for a price discount to reflect the pollution damage that is likely to be caused by their neighbor. If I can buy a cheap house because the house is next to a dump, I can't complain that I live next to a dump. I picked it and I was compensated for living there. So, my question here is "what is the new news?" Is the cement factory nastier than was expected? In this case, the neighbors have not been fully compensated for the damage they are now feeling. Alternatively, the neighbors want a free lunch of low land purchase price and no pollution."

The points he makes are valid ones - however, when you're talking about the prices of real estate reflecting the reality of noxious activities in a neighborhood - in other words - "you got a cheap house, so suck it up" - this kind of ignores the fact that most of the people who will have to bear the burden of the pollution in this case have no real choice of where to live. The residents of public housing are the vast majority of Red Hook's population. Asthma rates in Red Hook are around 40%. There is already enough pollution to challenge the health of the most vulnerable in our community - whether it be from the hundreds of trucks and private buses, container ships, cruise ships, car traffic on the BQE - with more truck and ship pollution coming from the relocation of Phoenix Beverages.

Any additional pollution is a concern.

Isn't it fair to ask that any new business shouldn't impose further burden on the health of the community in which it hopes to operate - regardless of Zoning?

ONE MORE THING: In my last post on this subject, here, I quoted the statements made to the Brooklyn Paper's Zeke Faux (article here) - statements from Jim Vogel, aide to State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. He spoke out in a way that other representatives, including Councilmember Sara Gonzalez haven't on this matter. I thought they were worth repeating again.

Senator Montgomery's aide said,

"his office would keep fighting the plant because the neighborhood has changed since the “heavy industry” zoning was put in place decades ago."

Mr. Vogel went on to say,

“I don’t think they appreciate the density of this area and how litigious New Yorkers can be ... If you’re opening a cement plant in an area with a 40-percent asthma rate, you’d better open your pocket book, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time in court.”

UPDATE 2: The Brooklyn Eagle has an editorial commenting on IKEA's impact on Red Hook - but also referring to the Cement plant, (here). Dennis Holt writes,

And then someone throws a spanner into things. A cement company is building a cement factory across the street from IKEA. The company has the legal right to do so, and no one seems to be able to do anything about it.

Apparently, IKEA hasn’t tried to use its influence, but a cement plant shouldn’t be built near a major destination shopping center, a waterfront park, and close by sporting fields. It really doesn’t belong on this part of Red Hook’s consumer waterfront. (my emphasis)

Mr. Holt is right on this one. Though, regarding the main thrust of his editorial referring to Ikea "keeping their promises" to the community of which it now is a part. There is the matter of the free Water Taxi - even to non-customers.

Unfortunately, that was a promise not kept.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cruise Ships Bring New Customers To Red Hook Stores .... well, at least to the Chinese Restaurant.

It's been a common complaint that when "the powers that be" bring their development plans to Red Hook, little ever materializes in the form of often promised benefits for the community - whether it be the for residents or small businesses.

Sure, IKEA brought some jobs to the locals, a nice waterfront park and a free customer water taxi service, but the promise of these thousands of new customers seeking other shopping options in the neighborhood hardly materialized. The quick demise of the newly renovated bar "Annabelle's" (formerly - and much missed - "Lillie's") and the adjoining restaurant "La Bouillabaisse" that were situated right across the street from IKEA is evidence of that. I guess people preferred their pseudo Swedish meatballs to the excellent Neil Ganick created cuisine to be had at the non-IKEA restaurant. Let's face it, who's going to load up their car with disassembled furniture and head out for some fine dining - day or night - especially when they've got many long and frustrating hours of reassembling ahead of them? I don't even think that the Liberty Heights Tap Room (now Rocky Sullivan's) benefited from the anticipated throngs of thirsty construction workers who were building the blue and yellow behemoth a mere block away.

Similarly, shouldn't we ask questions when the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) says that they anticipate the relocation of 500 workers to Red Hook - with their newly inked plan to bring Phoenix Beverages to the Brooklyn Waterfront at Piers 7 and 11 at the Atlantic Basin - will bring great benefits to our community? The trade off to the locals for the imposition of 200 new truck trips a day, more congestion and pollution from the trucks and from the carcinogenic extra-dirty diesel smokestack pollution of the additional idling container ships is, they say, the great economic benefit it will bring. Not only to the City as a whole, but to Red Hook itself. Hey, they're the ECONOMIC Development Corporation ... they know what they're talking about, right?

Most of Phoenix's jobs, we've been told, will be truck drivers and the EDC said they were sure they'd (at least) be stopping in at the local eateries to grab some lunch or something. I wait with anticipation to see the "Hope and Anchor" packed with Phoenix drivers catching a bite in the middle of their day - returning to Red Hook after interrupting their run out to Long Island and beyond, their trucks double parked on Van Brunt Street, soon to drive back out to the suburbs with an excellent espresso from "Fort Defiance" in one hand and one of "Baked"'s fine cupcakes in the other. They'll no doubt be returning later that night to have a fine meal at "The Good Fork", "Home/Made" or "Kevin's" (to name a few) - you know, supporting their fellow Red Hook businesses.

There will be some good things coming with the EDC's plan - the accomodation of the Brooklyn Greenway and inclusion of PortSide New York in the plan is at least a small concession to the strong sentiment in our community, detailed specifically in many formats - whether it be Community Board 6 Guidelines, or our 197a Plan - for some sort of cultural element and meaningful waterfront access and public space. Unfortunately - and I don't want to sound like I'm minimizing the value of their presence and the contribution they will bring to this plan - but we're getting a lot less than what we asked for, and the public waterfront access has basically been reduced to a corner of a paved parking lot.

Still, the EDC said the plan will bring economic benefit to our community. Many of our small businesses showed great reluctance to agree with the EDC's assertions on this matter. Some asked what studies the EDC had done to show this was the fact - the answer was none. When the small store-owners and business people asked, in some of the community meetings, what the comparative economic benefit to the upland community of an alternate plan would be (one that included Phoenix in addition to the inclusion of New York Water Taxi's operations and more jobs, the development of other commercial activities, boat repair, a marina, cultural spaces and much more public access, waterfront access and open space), the EDC basically shrugged their shoulders. Apparently they don't collaborate with their non-Maritime Unit colleagues.

So it's with this in mind that I get back to the whole point - sort of - of this post. When the EDC were building the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, at the bottom of my street, many of us had hopes that the benefits that they promised would come to our community from that development would come to fruition. Perhaps a few disembarking passengers would wander around the neighborhood and buy a few things at our cool shops - eat at a cafe or restaurant - buy a drink at a bar. Maybe some would drive around the neighborhood and see what an interesting place it was, and be lured back later? Surely the EDC would make the terminal itself a people friendly place that invited non-travelers to the waterfront to watch the ships, sit on a bench, or just lay on a grassy seaside public space, taking in the waterborne activity around them? Logically, the terminal building could be used as a convention or function center when the ships weren't in, no? The EDC is going to create a nice welcoming gateway to the terminal, and back into Red Hook - perhaps a gate at the pedestrian access at the bottom of Pioneer Street that said "Welcome to Red Hook, Brooklyn", with a guide to the local businesses, right? The EDC will surely ensure that the cruise ships don't have to idle while in port (by the implementation of "Cold Ironing" - the use of Shore Power so the ships can turn off), instead of churning their many tons of dangerous chemicals into our childrens' lungs, while their passengers pass through this brand spanking new, multi-million dollar, state-of-the art terminal to luxuriate on the Queen Mary 2 and sip on their flutes of Krug?

It didn't seem so far fetched.

Well, 6 years later, none of this has come to pass.

At least I thought not, until I had a conversation with my local bodega guy - Cliff. As I was buying my milk, I asked him -

"So, I see the ship's in today" (one of many sailings this last summer) ... "Are you getting any customers?".

"Nah", he said. "Just a few of the crew stopping in for soap, some toothpaste or whatever".

"Oh", I said.

"But the Chinese is doing well", Cliff offered. "They're rockin'".

So I took a look at our excellent and friendly local Chinese take-out, the "Ling Gee", and, yep, for sure they were busy. And after that, whenever I noticed that the ships were in - especially the Princess lines, for some reason - the little restaurant seemed to be doing a thriving business. With crew members from the ship filing in, sometimes having to wait outside, and then taking some time to sit at the window and slurp up some freshly prepared noodles or house special soup (they have a good one).

Hey, I thought. The EDC was right.

At last, some benefit for the local businesses .....

Well, for one at least.

Friday, October 16, 2009

EPA Announces Guide: Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities

In the latest edition of Waterwire, the Waterfront Alliance's newsletter, there is an interesting article about a recently released guide put together by the EPA in partnership with NOAA, Rhode Island Sea Grant, and the International City/County Management Association, called "Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities". The EPA's web site states, "this interagency guide builds on existing smart growth principles to offer 10 specific development guidelines for coastal and waterfront communities."

"Coastal and waterfront communities have a distinctive sense of place created by their history, as well as by their characteristic sights, sounds, and smells. These communities face many unique challenges", including the challenges posed by climate change.

The EPA's site goes on to say,

"more than half of the U.S. population lives in coastal counties that cover less than 17 percent of U.S. land area, and that percentage continues to grow. Additionally, 180 million people visit coastal areas every year, and many others visit lake and riverfront communities. As they struggle to accommodate this intense interest, many coastal and waterfront communities have found that conventional development patterns threaten the assets they treasure most. Smart growth approaches can help these communities accommodate development, protect their natural resources, and keep people and property out of harm's way."

Here are the 10 guidelines (developed in collaboration with the Smart Growth Network) -

As Waterwire states, "the guide was announced at the H209 Forum on September 9 and 10 that celebrated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Henry Hudson to New York Harbor and convened stakeholders from New York, New Jersey and the Netherlands to discuss water challenges facing coastal cities around the world."

The NY400 celebration included the event that welcomed the Dutch flat bottomed boats to the Atlantic Basin in Red Hook (my post here) , and also included events discussing waterfront development, such as the H209 Forum.

It got me thinking again about the way the waterfront is being developed here in Red Hook, Brooklyn, particularly regarding the plans recently put into place by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and signed off on by the Port Authority and the City of New York (Brooklyn Eagle story here) for Pier 11 and the Atlantic Basin. It's a plan that mostly monopolizes the use of that part of the waterfront by Phoenix Beverages in a lease that could potentially last till 2058, at the expense of broad waterfront access, open space, other activities and developments that could reconnect and bolster the commercial and residential community that abuts the waterfront and many other elements mirroring the above "10 principals" presented by the EPA . These neglected elements, however, were articulated in the goals and guidelines that were set by our Community Board and in our 197a Plan and strongly advocated for by our small businesses and residents who wanted to accommodate Phoenix on our waterfront as long as these other goals were met and perceived problems addressed.

Well, that wasn't to be.

Additionally, and most egregiously, these plans were put into place without any real regard for the effects of the pollution and congestion caused by the 200 truck trips a day and the added carcinogenic smokestack pollution caused by the idling container ships (each equivalent to 12,000 cars a day) that this expansion will bring to our already challenged residents - particularly our most vulnerable - children, the elderly and people with respiratory disease (Red Hook's asthma rate is 40%). The EDC and Port Authority told us - No Environmental Impact Study was required.

That doesn't seem like "smart growth" to me.

In the Brooklyn Eagle story Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is quoted saying, “This is a long-held dream come true for me."

Well for the residents of Red Hook, it may end up being more like a nightmare.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Red Hook Pollution Watch - Cement and Ships

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post but, needless to say, the fight against the effects of pollution on our neighborhood and its inhabitants has not taken a break.


There was a demonstration against the establishment of a cement plant on a block neighboring Red Hook's organic Added Value Community Farm, IKEA (the site is right next to their air conditioning intakes), the Erie Basin Park, bike tracks including the proposed Brooklyn Greenway route, the Red Hook Ballfields and other recreational fields close to the Red Hook Pool. Zeke Faux from The Brooklyn Papers did a story on the demonstration, here, and noted that -

"about 40 neighbors (actually over 70 signed a Red Hook Civic Association petition at the event) donned face masks to protest the planned opening of a concrete plant next to the Beard Street Ikea — across from a community farm and near popular playing fields."
"The neighbors, who carried signs reading “No More Pollution” and “Honk 4 No Cement,” said they oppose the plant because its fine dust would coat the organic pumpkins and eggplants at the Red Hook Community Farm."

It was great to see the residents of Red Hook and members of community organizations including representatives from the Red Hook Houses come out in solidarity against the seemingly inappropriately placed plant. The fact that the establishment of the cement plant seems a fait accompli didn't seem to deter nor dampen the enthusiasm of the protesters. One of the positive things to come from this event, apart from the sense of neighborhood unity, was the statements that came from Jim Vogel, aide to State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. He spoke out in a way that other representatives, including Councilmember Sara Gonzalez haven't on this matter.

Senator Montgomery's aide said,

"his office would keep fighting the plant because the neighborhood has changed since the “heavy industry” zoning was put in place decades ago."

Mr. Vogel went on to say,

“I don’t think they appreciate the density of this area and how litigious New Yorkers can be ... If you’re opening a cement plant in an area with a 40-percent asthma rate, you’d better open your pocket book, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time in court.”

This was a welcome statement from Mr. Vogel that reflected the fact that, despite often being described as "industrial", Red Hook is a mixed use neighborhood that has dense residential populations. How can you describe Red Hook, as the Brooklyn Eagle did in a recent article (here), as a "Brooklyn industrial neighborhood" when you have over 11,000 residents with around 8,000 people living in the Red Hook Houses alone?

It's easy for these noxious activities (and I put the cement plant in that category) to be thrust into our neighborhood and its pollution onto our food and into our children's lungs when the neighborhood is portrayed as being without meaningful population. Our people shouldn't be ignored, and it shouldn't take a lawsuit to have their value and dignity recognized. It reminded me of statements the Obama administration's ex-"Green Jobs Czar", Van Jones, made about creating green jobs. He asserted that a fair and just "green economy" shouldn't as a consequence have "throw-away people", the people who end up being the "collateral damage" who carry the burden of the economic prosperity of others.

It's a matter of environmental justice, and it's an ongoing challenge in our neighborhood in dealing with the development that often happens - development that more times than not seems to proceed with ignorance of or disregard for the resultant negative effects of pollution, congestion and other impacts on our residents.


The same has been the case with the expansion of the operations of the Container Terminal that is being created by the relocation of Phoenix Beverages to the Brooklyn Piers. There has been no word on the pollution mitigation measures that were supposedly being pursued at the Port, asserted in statements made by Mr. Yates, ASI's director of commercial operations for the container terminal, saying that the implementation of shore power is being pursued "diligently". (see my post here). As I said in that previous post, I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Also, there has been no further word on the implementation of "shore power" at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, despite the EPA's recent $3 million grant to fund the infrastructure required. (my post here). I have reached out to the New York City Economic Development Corporation on what the state of affairs is on this matter, but have not yet received a response.

It's particularly frustrating to hear nothing on this matter when the residents of Red Hook, including the 40% of our population suffering from asthma, are continuing to breathe in the equivalent of 12,000 cars' emissions per ship, per day, every time a ship is in - as is the case today and has been regularly the case over the summer. It is also frustrating to see that other ports around the world are getting this stuff done (see story, about Vancouver's newly established shore power practices, "Princess Ships Start Plugging into Shore Power at Port of Vancouver" - here), while here in the city that never sleeps we seem to be asleep at the wheel.

Meanwhile, there is more and more information available about the harmful and pervasive effects of port related pollution. I found this article titled, "Harboring Pollution - The Dirty Truth About U.S. Ports" on the National Resources Defense Council's web site. (here)

Included are the interesting tables relating to port pollution, below -

And also this concluding statement under the heading "Port Community Relations"

"Ports can also be bad neighbors by ignoring residents of the communities living next door, or making little or no effort to solicit community input into port operational decisions that will directly affect the life of the community and its residents. Many U.S. ports have developed decidedly hostile relations with their neighbors, not just because of the pollution the ports produce, but because they have consistently ignored residents of nearby communities, refusing sometimes even to share critical information about possible effects of port operations."

This statement got me thinking again about the lack of Environmental Impact Study that was required regarding the EDC's plan to expand the operations of the Container Terminal. What are the "possible effects" of these expanded port operations - and why are we being asked to take all of this in "good faith". As with the cement plant, the effects on the already vulnerable residents seem to be ignored. Will it take a lawsuit to get the impact assessed? Where is the EPA on this?

Well, I decided to write a letter to the EPA - here it is.

To whom it may concern,

My name is Adam Armstrong. My family and I live in Red Hook, Brooklyn, the dense residential and mixed-use waterfront neighborhood abutting the Brooklyn Cruise and Container Terminals.

Recently, the New York City Economic Development Corporation in conjunction with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has signed a 20-year lease with Phoenix Beverages, an importer of beer and other goods, for a site in Red Hook on the Brooklyn waterfront that includes Pier 7 and Pier 11 on the Atlantic Basin. These goods will be arriving by ship, we are being told, and those ships will be docking and unloading at Pier 10, part of the Brooklyn Container Terminal operated by American Stevedoring. The distribution of the goods from that site will require roughly 200 truck trips a day, with the operators hoping to grow their business in the future.

There has been great unease and concern in our neighborhood about the environmental impact of this new use of the waterfront including the impact of the trucks themselves - both with pollution and congestion - and the increase of ship traffic that will inevitably occur with this new business. Phoenix Beverages has said that they will convert their fleet of trucks to CNG, however they have been given a 7-year time frame to comply. The EDC said that Phoenix will be in breach of their lease requirements if they do not comply, but there are no benchmarks to meet within that time frame. This is something that doesn't bode well for the quick conversion to the cleaner - yet, still polluting (CO2, Carbon Monoxide etc.) - fuel.

Regarding the matter of the ships - Red Hook and our surrounding neighborhoods are already suffering from the impact of the emissions from ships with both the Brooklyn Container Terminal and the Cruise Terminal at our doorstep. We are becoming more aware of the carcinogenic effects of ship emissions, and I, after finding out about these facts when the Cruise Terminal was being planned 5 years ago, was recently driven to start a blog to help raise awareness of these troubling facts and to advocate for the implementation of clean ship practices and technology, such as "shore power" or "cold ironing", in Red Hook, as well as other port pollution mitigation practices such as a "clean truck program".

We are very grateful for the EPA's statements about the dangers of ship emissions - statements that were used as support for arguments advocating "cold ironing" when the matter of the setting of electricity tariffs was being sought at the Public Service Commission regarding the proposed use of shore power at the Brooklyn Cruise terminal - I include these important facts in the side-bar of my blog. (I'll paste them on the bottom of this email). Recently, the EPA has given a grant to the Port Authority that will enable the Cruise Terminal to build shore power infrastructure - something that the Port Authority and the Cruise operators have committed to, but with no time frame yet given for implementation. However, and this is important - there is no such plan for the Container Terminal.

Now we see that the relocation of Phoenix Beverages to the Red Hook piers will mean an expansion of the operations of the Container Terminal, but with no real commitment to lessen the added impact of the extra ships and trucks and the dangerous emissions they create.

We have been told, to our disbelief, that neither the EDC nor Port Authority is required to do an Environmental Impact Study to assess the impact of this expansion. It is apparently not required by law in this case.

However, some of us have strongly argued that there is a moral obligation to do a study, especially when this expansion of operations and accompanying increase of pollution is thrust on a dense neighborhood that: 1) already has high asthma rates (40% of children); 2) has a high incidence and risk of cancer (as shown by recently released EPA statistics): 3) is sandwiched between the already unmitigated polluting activities of the port and the heavy traffic of the BQE; 4) is already overburdened with pollution from truck, bus and car traffic and congestion (with no traffic evaluation being done since the introduction of IKEA and Fairway); 5) is disproportionately comprised of the people most vulnerable to these pollutants - and I quote the EPA - "children, the elderly, people with lung disease, those who exercise outside, and low-income and minority communities." - That is Red Hook.

I urge you to look into this situation and to advocate for an Environmental Impact Study and pollution mitigation at the Container Terminal. The EDC's stated goal is to "grow" the Container Terminal, and without the implementation of clean practices it will be the people of our community who will be carrying the burden of the EDC and Port Authority's attention to their "bottom line".

The health of the people of Red Hook cannot become the "collateral damage" of these entities business practices. Economic Development should be to the benefit of all, not at the expense of some - especially our most vulnerable

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Yours Sincerely,

Adam Armstrong and family

The aforementioned statements to the Public Service Commission -

• a. Shore power is a crucial step for cleaning our air and improving health of New Yorkers.
• b. Ocean going vessels that dock in New York City typically burn high sulfur fuel in diesel engines to generate auxiliary power.
• This combustion results in exhaust containing NOx, SOx and particulates and such exhaust is a likely carcinogen.
• A Port Authority study shows that use of shore power at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal would annually eliminate 100 tons of NOx, 100 tons of SOx and 6 tons of particulates
• c. New York City air quality is among the worst in the nation and port related emissions are meaningful and avoidable."
• d. Such air emissions are harmful to the pubic generally, and especially to our children, the elderly, people with lung disease, those who exercise outside, and low-income and minority communities located near ports.
• e. Implementation of a shore power tariff is consistent with economic development in New York City.
• f. Implementation of an appropriate Shore Power Tariff in New York City would provide an impetus for ship owners to invest in ship-side Shore Power equipment and for widespread use of this technology in other ports on the East Coast.
• g. None of the Company's tariff's accurately account for the unique service characteristics of ships that dock in New York City.
• h. A high-rate setting working group charged with delivering a shore power recommendation should be convened quickly.

And these further statements from the EPA -

"A shore power Tariff would reduce combustion of No 6 (sic) on ships and avoid significant air emissions and have positive environmental and environmental justice impacts discussed fully in EPA's comments"

"The possibility that a shore power tariff may be more effective for cargo ships instead of cruise ships is an issue that would be considered in the collaborative process."