Friday, April 30, 2010

Have your Say on Waterfront Planning - Come to the Brooklyn "Vision 2020" Workshop, May 17th, 2010.

What do you hope to see on our waterfront in the future? Big box stores? Luxury condos? Cement plants? More trucks? More pollution?

Do you have some ideas of what would be appropriate for the Red Hook waterfront? Do you like the idea of having more open space, public access (both physical and visual) and people-friendly activities and amenities? Do you hope for better waterborne transportation options? Are you interested in how planning for Red Hook's waterfront can be better connected to the future plans for Governors Island? Are you interested in the push for the "greening" of the various activities along the waterfront? Are you hoping for the City and its agencies to take a more balanced, resident-friendly approach to future planning along our waterfront and in our neighborhood? Does your small business hope to benefit from planning that better connects it to the broader neighborhood and beyond through the waterfront?

Would you like any development to conform to the EPA supported guidelines called "Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities"? (See them here)

We'll here's your chance to have a say -

As I mentioned in a previous post (here), New York City's Department of City Planning is holding meetings to gather input from the public to help shape their newly announced initiative, Vision 2020 - New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan.

They held their initial meeting on April 8th (slideshow and summary of presentation here), but during May and June, as promised, the City is holding borough specific meetings - they're calling "workshops" - to concentrate on getting input regarding local issues. There is a list of upcoming meetings here.

This from their web site -

We will be holding public workshops in May and June in each borough to present an overview of each Borough’s waterfront resources and to discuss the future of specific waterfront sites. At these workshops, City Planning will present an overview of the borough’s waterfront resources and existing uses. We’ll then break into small groups to discuss particular segments of the Borough’s waterfront, what we refer to as Reaches. For each reach the groups will discuss opportunities and challenges for the future of specific sites along the waterfront. We’re also holding a sixth public meeting to discuss the Blue Network and other citywide issues.

Brooklyn's workshop will be held, as follows -

May 17, 2010, 6-8:30 pm
Brooklyn Technical High School
Dekalb Ave. & S. Elliot Pl, Brooklyn.

View Brooklyn Technical High School in a larger map

Here's the flier. Click on it to enlarge, get transportation information and more.

All this talk of Waterfront Planning reminds me, again, of the words of Bert Hooijer, professor of applied science at Rotterdam University in the Netherlands, who was in New York in September last year as part of the "H209 conference, a Trans-National Look at Modern Urban Water Challenges", a part of the larger Henry Hudson NY400 celebration. Professor Hooijer was on Brian Lehrer's show on WNYC (hear the interview here) and spoke of developing the waterfront in the "right way", with "multiple functions". He said the goal was to "get people to it" and to "combine several disciplines" to "develop the waterfront in a new way."

Professor Hooijer went on to say, "the most beautiful thing to do is to bring the people to the water ... bring the local people to the water ... give people activities to do on the waterfront side" and "on the water" and to "use the quality of the people who are living next to the waterfront."

Good ideas from the Dutch professor ... and surely good ideas for "Roode Hoeke".

See you at the meeting. (And if you can't come you can submit comments on-line, here)


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Mayor Bloomberg re-commit to Sunset Park Container Terminal

In my one of my previous posts, commenting on the challenges regarding the long-term viability - both environmentally and practically - of the Red Hook Container Port, I referred to the proposal to develop a Container Port at Sunset Park - something that was part of the City's 1999 "Strategic Plan for the Redevelopment of the Port of New York". This part of the plan had seemed to have fallen of the agenda for the last number of years, but a recent announcement from the City has put the proposed Sunset Park terminal back in the spotlight.

Regarding the announcement, Rep. Jerrold Nadler made this comment -

“This blueprint will reaffirm the City’s commitment to preserving, protecting and investing in our precious maritime and industrial infrastructure, and will build upon the Mayor’s support of the development of a major container port in Sunset Park"

Nadler is referring to the City's newly announce Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES).

From the City's press release (here) -

"The WAVES strategy – to be developed over the next nine months – will include two core components: the Vision 2020 – The New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan that will establish long-term goals for the next decade and beyond, and the New York City Waterfront Action Agenda that will set forth priority initiatives to be implemented within three years. Together, the initiatives will provide a blueprint for the City’s waterfront and waterways, and focus on the following categories: open space and recreation, the working waterfront, housing and economic development, natural habitats, climate change adaptation and waterborne transportation."

I wrote about the "Vision 2020" thing in a previous post (here) where I mentioned the opportunity to attend meetings, comment on-line and to have a say in the direction of the plan.

The interesting this about the latest announcement was the serious re-committal to the Sunset Park Container Port from the Mayor, Speaker Quinn and Rep. Nadler.

Jerry Nadler has long been a supporter of a container port at Sunset Park, saying that this location's larger size and proximity to the proposed "cross harbor freight rail tunnel", of which he is the strongest advocate, gave it a logical advantage.

Nadler went on, as quoted in this Brooklyn Eagle story (here) about the merits of the proposal -

"Our roads cannot handle the truck traffic that exists today, let alone the projected increases of the coming years. For that reason, the trucking of freight is not now and has never been a sustainable or long-term solution.”

Nadler seems to be saying here that the transportation of freight should, whenever possible, be done by rail, thereby alleviating the toll taken on the environment, roads and buildings by heavy truck traffic.

This damage is something that Red Hook knows a bit about as we suffer from not only the harmful emissions from the ships at the container and cruise terminals, but the pollution, congestion and structural damage done to our buildings by trucks - with more to come with the imminent relocation of Phoenix Beverages to Pier 11 and 7, bringing 200 more truck trips a day to our neighborhood's streets. Red Hook's terminal has no rail connection, so is totally reliant on trucks to move its freight - something that Nadler says is neither "sustainable" nor a "long-term solution".

What this re-commitment to the Container Terminal at Sunset Park means for the Red Hook terminal is unclear. When the City had plans to shut down the Red Hook terminal in 2006, one of the main objections, made by Nadler, Quinn and others, was that Brooklyn needed a container terminal, and until the alternately proposed Sunset Park terminal was up and running, the inefficient and under-productive operation at Red Hook should be maintained.

However, Nadler and the City, in the recent press release, talk of the "protection" of the maritime and industrial infrastructure. Phoenix Beverages, who NYCEDC President, Seth Pinsky, referred to as the "new anchor tenant for the Red Hook Container Terminal" has a 20-year lease on the Red Hook Piers giving the Container Terminal operators, American Stevedoring (ASI), by proxy, control of a majority of Pier 11 for that time (though ASI only has a 10-year lease of the piers - supposedly). So whether that means that the Red Hook terminal would continue operating despite a Sunset Park terminal coming on line - whenever that might be - is hard to say.

What is clear is that there is some serious thinking going on about the long-term plans for the city's waterfront - that can be seen in the City's WAVES Strategy.

If that means that we're thinking of smarter, cleaner and more balanced ways to use the waterfront then I'm all for it.

If it means that the City is serious about hearing from the residents about what they want and need from their waterfront, then I say "great" and encourage you to make your voices heard at meetings (schedule here) or by making comments on-line (here).

If it means there's a push to create a cleaner Port of New York, with less reliance on trucks and more on rail with new rail links, the building of shore power infrastructure and the promotion of no-idling "cold ironing" for the ships - wherever they dock - then, to paraphrase Dennis Holt, from the Brooklyn Eagle ...

Bring it on.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

PortSide NY and "Clipper City" offering Free Sails - Tickets Available Tomorrow

This just in from PortSide New York regarding the much anticipated free sails on the United State's largest passenger sailing vessel, "Clipper City". Sailings will be from PortSide's future home at Pier 11 on the Atlantic Basin. Follow the links below for tickets and directions.

158' long Clipper City
Clipper City

PortSide NewYork, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and Manhattan By Sail Inc. are making available 550 free tickets for sails on the Clipper City Tall Ship, a 158' long topsail schooner.

The Clipper City Tall Ship will depart from Pier 11, Atlantic Basin, next to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. The ship can take up to 145 passengers at a time. Rides are about one and a half hours long and will depart on the following days and times:

Fri 4/30 10:00 a.m.
Sat 5/1 10:00 a.m.
Fri 5/7 10:00 a.m.
Sat 5/8 10:00 a.m.

As of Fri 4/16/10, 240 free tickets will be distributed via the web here

If someone does not use the web, physical tickets are available as of Fri 4/16/10 at the office of Brooklyn Community Board 6 (250 Baltic Street, between Court Street and Clinton Street) from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Tickets are limited to two per person.

Tickets at Community Board 6 that have not been picked up 3 days before the sail, will become available on line.

Directions to Atlantic Basin


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Public Meeting for the Future of New York's Waterfront - this Thursday

Do you have an opinion about what our waterfront should look like in 10 or 20 years time? Are you interested in the plans for the Revere Sugar site, the Atlantic Basin or the Brooklyn waterfront in general? Do you have a vision for Red Hook's waterfront and wish you had a chance to put in your "2 cents' worth"?

Well here's your opportunity (both in person and on-line) -

This from the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) -

Don't miss the kick-off meeting for New York City's Comprehensive Waterfront Plan update this Thursday. Your input is critical to this year-long visioning process. When put into place, the updated plan will have the potential to profoundly transform New York City's Waterfront.

You can help set the direction for future discussions and the vision for the waterfront on April 8th by lending your voice at this first public meeting of the year:

April 8, 2010
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Murry Bergtraum High School
411 Pearl Street, Manhattan

Map It

You can have your say regarding the future of our waterfront during this first meeting convened by the City's Department of Planning regarding the update of their 1992 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, which they're calling Vision 2020. From the City's web site (here) -

Vision 2020 will include the following components:
  • Expanding public access to the waterfront on public and private property.
  • Enlivening the waterfront with attractive uses, high-quality public spaces, and publicly oriented water-dependent uses, integrated with adjacent upland communities.
  • Supporting economic development activity on the working waterfront.
  • Restoring degraded natural waterfronts and protecting wetlands and shorefront habitats.
  • Enhancing the public experience of the “blue network” by expanding waterborne transportation, in-water recreation, as well as water-oriented educational and cultural activities.
  • Maintaining and improving the environmental quality of our water bodies.
  • Pursuing strategies to improve the sustainability of the city’s waterfront, including increasing resilience to climate change and projected sea-level rise.

The MWA is saying that the City has "committed to extensive public involvement to identify the goals and issues to be addressed by the Plan" and that following this initial meeting there will be follow-up meetings in the individual boroughs that will focus on their particular needs (so stay tuned), but this first meeting will surely be a chance to participate in the process from the beginning.

Can't make this meeting? The MWA says this -

What if you have a big idea but can't get to a meeting? The Department of City Planning has a created an online form to submit comments and questions about Vision 2020. Click this link to access the Comment Form.

So make your voices heard. As the MWA states,

"This is our opportunity to ensure important improvements continue in ways that balance many important waterfront needs."