Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"NO IDLING" - Facts about Ship Pollution.

This is what 12,400 cars idling at the end of your residential street looks like.

Anyone annoyed at the idling buses ringing Coffey Park in the mornings, or chugging their fumes in front of your house? This ship is creating the equivalent asthma causing particulate matter (PM) of 6,000 big diesel buses, idling at the end of your residential street.

According to a Port Authority statement, the estimated monetized health cost to Brooklyn residents of these harmful yet avoidable emissions, just from the cruise ships visiting Brooklyn, is $9 million - per year.

On the West Coast, the news is that the act of plugging a container ship into "shore power" (allowing it to stop idling its extra dirty diesel engines) has the effect of taking 33,000 cars off the road - with the flick of a switch.

As the summer break starts, and as the ships continue to visit Red Hook, Brooklyn, and the rest of our city's ports - and idle - despite our city's otherwise strict "NO IDLING" rules, I wanted to put this information at the top of my blog again.

You can also find a quick "NO IDLING" fact sheet HERE.

Just a reminder of what the real impact is of these ships - and of the already known solutions being used elsewhere, but unfortunately not yet in New York, that can take this burden off the residents of port communities - especially our most vulnerable - our kids.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PortSide New York - Breathing Life Back Into Red Hook's Waterfront.

PortSide New York is having a "Funraiser" on July 3rd to help support their Summer "BlueSpace" programs being held on, and in conjunction with, their flagship, ex-tanker Mary A. Whalen, moored at their new summer home at Pier 11 on the historic Atlantic Basin.

Buy your tickets HERE!

PortsSide has been given a temporary permit to operate out of (what will eventually be) their permanent home at this location from July 1st to August 24th. They will be doing programs and events throughout this 55 day period, including tall ship sails (such as was done recently with "Clipper City"), ferry tours of the harbor, educational tours on the historic tug, "Cornell", youth programs, tours of the Mary Whalen, "City of Water Day" celebrations - including music, food, and and the Urban Divers EnviroMedia Mobile, there will be movies, talks, story telling, Brooklyn Greenway walks, and much more. Have a look at their entire program, HERE.

PortSide has been working over many years to create a more vibrant waterfront in Red Hook, and has had some wonderful successes with "Opera on the Tanker", and the hugely popular Dutch Flat Bottomed Boat Event. Earlier this year, they facilitated the "community sails" on the tall ship, "Clipper City", and that event may lead to the "Clipper City" operating out of the Atlantic Basin commercially this summer.

As a great advocate of more waterfront access in our neighborhood, I'm excited to see how PortSide is reinvigorating our waterfront in this way - by bringing people to it. That was also seen with the Dutch Flat Bottomed Boat event (pic at bottom, post here), where my family and I had our first chance to experience both this enriching and interesting event and the "blue space" of the Atlantic Basin that's only a few steps from where we live.

To my mind, the NYC Economic Development Corporation did a great disservice to our community when it grabbed most of Pier 11 on the historic Atlantic Basin, for what has turned out to be Phoenix Beverages recycling operations (my post here). Most of Phoenix's operations are housed in the much larger Pier 7 - that's why, despite EDC promises, the empty Phoenix (a.k.a.Long Feng) Trucks are now clanging and racing down Columbia Street. This deal was made at the expense of many of the "people friendly" elements that our residents were craving, ones that were supported by Community Board 6 and outlined in our 197a Plan, that would have balanced the uses of the Red Hook Piers and reconnected our neighborhood and its small businesses to the waterfront.

However, Carolina Salguero at PortSide, with the portion of Pier 11 and 600 foot frontage of the Atlantic Basin that will be their permanent home, is providing our community with the opportunity to get a taste of what is possible on our waterfront - how we can reconnect to it. It's our chance to get our foot in the door and to say - "We want more of this".

I hope you can get along to the Big PortSide BlueBQ Funraiser.

Here are some more details -

BBQ from 6-8:30. Guests are invited to linger later to watch the sun set over the harbor.

Food from The Good Fork, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Tom Cat Bakery and more


  • Peter Waldman, the Balloon Meister
  • Jack Putnam of South Street Seaport channelling Herman Melville
  • Live auction
  • kids wading pool, games, chalk, bubbles n balls
  • music by Smitty & more TBA

Produced by: Brooklyn Based and Brooklyn Based Kids

P.S. from Carolina at PortSide - "Atlantic Basin is open more hours than city parks even when PortSide isn't there. The vehicular gate has been open for several years from about 530am to 1130pm. PANYNJ is going to shorten the hours of that (i think making it dawn to dusk but I don't have exact hours) and will open the pedestrian gate at Pioneer and Conover for equivalent time. I don't have exact hours, but access is already there and increasing."

Monday, June 21, 2010

NYC Council Committee on Waterfronts Hearing - "Greening New York City's Working Waterfront"

On Thursday, last week, the New York City Council's Committee on Waterfronts, under the Chairmanship of Councilman Michael C. Nelson, held a hearing titled, "Oversight - Clearing the Air: Greening New York City's Working Waterfront". The hearing was convened so the Committee could hear testimony on this subject from the various entities who operated and made decisions about New York City's working waterfront, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), representatives in government, as well as hearing testimony from environmental groups and residents who are directly impacted by the harmful pollution that is created as a result of the operations of our city's ports.

The hearing was also attended by various other committee members who, like the Chairman, seemed to come in and out during its course, apart from Councilman Brad Lander, representing the 39th District that includes Carroll Gardens and the Columbia Street Waterfront District in Brooklyn, who was in attendance for the entire three hour hearing, listening to all of the testimony and asking the bulk of the well informed questions.

The hearing covered a range of issues relating to the "greening" of the ports, and the representatives from the Port Authority and EDC outlined some pollution mitigating measures that are currently under way, including the recent beginings of an L.A. style clean truck program (though not nearly as extensive) - called the "Truck Replacement Program" - that is being set up to allow drivers of drayage trucks that move containers in and out of ports to upgrade from older polluting trucks, to newer cleaner ones. There was also mention of an incentive program to promote the use of lower sulfur diesel in ocean going vessels while in New York City waters. Also mentioned was the plan to plug cruise ships into "shore power", allowing them to turn off their extra-dirty diesel engines while in port at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook (this is called "cold ironing"), instead of idling in port, as they are currently doing. Despite the previous statements from the Port Authority saying that this action, with the cruise ships alone, would save Brooklyn residents $9 million per year in health costs, the plan is still in limbo due to recalcitrance on the part of Con Edison, and seemingly ponderous - if not callous - feet dragging at the Public Service Commission (PSC) in setting an economically viable Con Edison power rate (called a tariff) for the ships to use. This new rate could be applied whether it be in Brooklyn or elsewhere in New York City, such as is being proposed (as I heard at the hearing) at the newly planned "cold ironing" 4th Berth at Howland Hook Container Terminal in Staten Island. One piece of news was that the EDC has committed to subsidize the shore power rate for ships at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal if the case isn't settled at the PSC. No doubt there's stuff to iron out there, but that was a bit of good news.

Rather than go into all of the detail of the hearing, I'd just like to touch on some broader issues - the main ones raised within the testimony presented at the hearing - and raise some questions that still need to be asked.

First, there is the issue of responsibility. In his testimony to the Committee, the Port Authority's Director of Port Commerce, Richard Larrabee, mentioned all the undeniable benefits that the activities of the ports bring to our region - economically, with jobs and otherwise. He also mentioned that these activities were predicted to grow significantly over the next decade and that the ports of New York and New Jersey would have to accommodate that growth. Given the subject being addressed at the hearing, at this stage it would have been expected that the Port Authority acknowledge the fact that the activities of the ports that they own and operate contribute significantly to the pollution that affects the health of the residents of our city and particularly the port communities that they abut, but the stance taken by the Port Authority was a different one. Mr. Larrabee said that their ports were within a "non attainment" region, where the levels of pollutants such as NOx, SO2, Particulates and Ozone constantly fail to meet federally mandated air quality standards. He went on to state that "although" their NY NJ Maritime activities only contributed 2% of the total of all sources of these pollutants for the region, they were "committed to reducing this contribution in an effort to help bring the region into attainment."

Well, let's get a couple of things straight. The "non attainment" region is a huge area that covers large chunks of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York City and State including all of Long Island. So, any figures that the Port Authority quotes surely shouldn't be in relation to this huge area - it renders them meaningless. Rather, they should be in relation to our city and its close suburbs, where their emissions' negative impact is being acutely felt.

The facts are, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (via this article from John Kaltenstein, Friends of the Earth) the yearly operations of the Ports of NY and NJ create as much pollution as 7.8 million cars. That's 7,000+tons of NOx (nitrogen oxides), nearly 5,000 tons of SO2 (sulfur dioxide) and 600 tons of Particulate Mater (PM).

Ships create 91% of the SO2, 47% of the NOx, and 62% of the particulates the operations of the port produces - that's information from the Port Authority. Trucks that service the ports also contribute significant percentages of these substances, with 25% of the NOx, 12% of PM and 37% of CO2. The EPA calls ship emissions "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." This statement is a living reality for residents of port communities who suffer high incidence of asthma, respiratory disease and cancer clusters - to name a few of the negative health effects resulting from port emissions.

For Mr. Larrabee to preface his testimony with the statement that implied that the contribution of harmful pollutants that the Ports of NY and NJ add to our city's air was minimal - but despite that, they were going to be "good guys" and clean it up a bit anyway, was a bit rich. If the Port Authority wants to adequately address these issues, they need to "come clean" on the facts, so that meaningful and appropriate action can be taken - as would be demanded by the public who employs them, if they also knew the facts. How can Mr. Larrabee's "back-slapping" statement that the Ports of NY and NJ eventually hope to be the "greenest" in country be taken seriously, if the Port Authority doesn't truthfully acknowledge how dirty they are?

The person speaking on behalf of the NYCEDC who (sometimes controversially) plan waterfront development for the City, was Vice President of the Maritime Department, Andrew Genn. His testimony covered a lot of the same ground as the Port Authority's, but spoke specifically about the Sunset Park Waterfront Vision Plan that lays out a future for Sunset Park's industrial waterfront that includes maritime industrial use (a possible new container port), waterfront access, a 20 acre park and even public housing. In relation to Red Hook, Mr. Genn also mentioned the proposed "cold ironing" at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and the "new paradigm" that the relocation of Phoenix Beverages to Pier 11, facilitated by the EDC, was bringing to Red Hook's waterfront. ( The fact that Phoenix are using 2 piers - both Pier 11 (where they only do recycling) AND the larger Pier 7 wasn't mentioned - I wondered why?)

Now, I keep hearing this "NEW PARADIGM" stuff from the EDC. I heard it from Mr. Genn and from Executive Vice President, Madelyn Wils, at the Brooklyn Workshop for the Vision 2020 Plan. Well if a "new paradigm" means breaking promises, misleading the public, inflicting more pollution and congestion on an already burdened population without Environmental Impact Studies, ignoring Community Board 6 guidelines, casting aside 197a Plans, cutting off much desired access to the waterfront, thwarting the will of the residents and ignoring common sense - when there was a workable, and viable alternative that would have also accommodated Phoenix Beverages and satisfied almost everyone - then, by George, EDC, you've done it. That's some "New Paradigm".

My advice to the EDC - stop repeating it. It's embarrassing. Much like your short sighted and expedient planning for the cruise terminal in the first place - which you should also stop referring to as "world class" - have you seen the rest of the world's terminals? They have windows with views of the water, and kitchens and loading docks for functions and conventions, and outdoor spaces and public access (no razor wire), and .... well, I could go on. Really, I could.

The EDC will play a role in the greening of the city's ports and waterfront, but again, they need to be truthful and cognizant of the role they have played in undermining people's confidence in their decision making. They don't have a great track history in Red Hook - so I'm taking everything they say with a grain of salt - as big as the 5 storey salt pile currently being stored on Red Hook's waterfront.

The other theme that kept coming up with the hearing was that the cost of "greening" the ports had to be weighed against the cost to shipping and building the infrastructure in the first place. The Chairman made this point a number of times, almost as if that was an insurmountable problem.

On the West Coast, I've seen many articles stating that the additional cost of green practices, cold ironing etc. amounted to the addition of a couple of cents to the cost of a pair of sneakers. That doesn't seem insurmountable. The Ports of LA and Long Beach are thriving, despite extensive investments in green practices, incentives and sometimes requirements for trucks and ships to clean up their acts.

The Mayor of Long Beach, CA, Bob Foster, when these mitigating measures were being proposed there years ago, didn't accept the argument that a small added cost borne by shipping or passed on to the consumer was unbearable. His quote was, "We’re not going to have kids in Long Beach contract asthma so someone in Kansas can get a cheaper television set.”

That is an attitude I'd like to see more of from the Waterfront Committee, and from the City as a whole. If the Chairman's suspicion of "greenies" runs any deeper than some of the rhetoric he used at the hearing - suggesting that a "radical environmentalist" agenda could make shipping uneconomical - I don't have much hope for that. If "radical greenies" had more influence, perhaps we wouldn't be dealing with the horror that is now being visited on the Gulf Coast right now, with regular people bearing the burden of careless business practices. In a gesture of appeasement, the Chairman stated, half jokingly, that everyone had environmental issues to worry about. He said that he had to worry about Tsunamis where he lived (presumably Sheepshead Bay, the area he represents), so we shouldn't be so worried about living with the pollution of our neighborhoods' ports. Even though I'm sure this was a well intended statement, it was a little bizarre, and not really respectful of the concerns of the people who were in that room in an attempt to rid unnecessary toxins from the air that their children are breathing.

Just a quick note about effectiveness. The PA Truck Replacement Program's effectiveness was being questioned at the meeting with, as a way to strengthen it, Federal Legislation being developed, initiated by Rep. Jerry Nadler and supported by unions and environmental groups, that would allow for the establishment of a more robust program that couldn't be legally challenged by big trucking companies and the operators of ports, as has been the case in LA with laws suits, etc. After questioning from CM Brad Lander it was noted that LA's program had already replaced 6,000+ trucks, and that NY's program only had funds for under 700, with only 93 applications so far due to the prohibitive cost of replacing the dirty trucks, despite the programs incentives. A professor from Rutgers University said that a new model needed to be developed and that the current plan "can't succeed".

The PA's low sulfur diesel incentive was also having limited results, thus far, again as revealed by questioning from Brad Lander. This was partially a result of the fact that NY doesn't tax dirty bunker fuel, so there was still not enough incentive to switch to the cleaner fuel. The tax issue was one that Councilman Lander addressed a number of times, calling for the taxing of the fuel, as is done in New Jersey, so as to de-incentivize its use in the ports.

I have to say, a large amount of the hearing was occupied by testimony and questions relating to the Truck Replacement Program and in support of the legislation I mentioned above, championed by Rep. Nadler, calling for reform of trucking practices that unfairly classified truck drivers "independent contractors". We heard heart wrenching testimony from desperate truck drivers, stating that they could barely earn a living wage because of the overheads that they personally had to carry - including replacing lights, maintenance, and any work done on their trucks - despite being, in essence, "employed" by the same company for many, many years - without benefits. The drivers said that this mis-classification was costing them enormously, not only financially, but in health costs, as they were forced to drive older, polluting trucks, which often had fumes coming into their driver's cab, and, additionally, they were driving through the very neighborhoods in which their families lived, polluting their air, and causing health and safety risks to their children. The advocates of a strengthened "Truck Replacement Program" stated that, if the legislation passed, the employer would then carry more of the costs, the drivers would be compensated more fairly, and that this would not only provide better work conditions for the drivers, but the newer, cleaner trucks would bring the pollution reductions and health benefits that this Committee's hearing was addressing. Among the organizations supporting this cause - outside of the political force of Congressman Jerry Nadler - were the Coalition for Healthy Ports, the Teamsters Union, the Drum Major Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

It was great to see this show of strength for the truck issue. It's a worthy one - because this is an issue of exploitation and workplace conditions as much as anything - and it's something I fully support, having asked, "Where is Red Hook's Clean Truck Program?" in my second ever post on this blog.

I did however think that the truck issue, with it's heavy-weight supporters in government, unions and other organizations, overshadowed the wider issue of port pollution and the main contributor to that pollution - the ships.

A spokesperson for the Environmental Defense Fund called "cold ironing" at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal a "no brainer", stating that plugging one cruise ship in would take the equivalent of the pollution from 12,000 cars, per day, out of the air. He noted that in L.A., when a container ship is plugged into "shore power", it has the effect of eliminating emissions equivalent to 33,000 cars.

Other speakers gave testimony about the environmental and health challenges that living next to a port posed. A woman representing the North Shore Waterfront Conservancy of Staten Island spoke passionately of environmental justice, of residents needs and welfare being overridden by the pursuit of "economic development". She spoke of trucks roaring through the streets, and precious waterfront land with little public access being eaten up by industry that couldn't care less what effect it was having on the surrounding population. She said that "business was being done at the expense of people". It was something a lot of Red Hook residents could relate to. She, as did others, skipped over the subject of the pollution from ships, but did question how the establishment of a new "cold ironing" berth at Howland Hook could be called "green", if it came at the expense of land-filling their unique wetlands, Arlington Marsh.

Other testimony included that coming from the National Resource Defense Council, South West Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, representatives of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Congressman Jerry Nadler, as well as the others I mentioned (and some I didn't - sorry).

There was also testimony from representatives of residents of the Bronx waterfront concerned about the impact of waterfront activities on their communities.

Unfortunately, the hearing was very long, and the testimony of residents who are actually bearing the burden of port pollution - from Staten Island, from the Columbia Street waterfront and Red Hook - was mostly relegated to the final minutes of a 3 hour hearing. I was second last to present my testimony, and as the hearing had already gone on nearly three hours, I was asked by the Chairman to keep my (what would have been 7 minute, as requested) testimony short. As a result, I tried to skim through most of the material that had been presented before, and tried to keep to my main points. I presented my testimony as a father, a resident of Red Hook, as someone who writes a blog on these issues, and as a board member of RHED - Red Hook Economic Development, a non for profit group that aims to create partnerships between businesses, residents and industry, to vitalize economic development while enhancing quality of life in Red Hook.

You can read the whole written testimony HERE.

As I finished up, the Chairman said, somewhat sympathetically (I think in reference to the so called "world class" Cruise Ship Terminal being built in 2006 without any pollution mitigating infrastructure), "I know. It's not what you expected."

Well, as the final speaker from the Bronx gave her testimony, I thought to myself, it's not really about "what I expected". It's about "what is to be expected" ... from governments, or agencies of governments, or industry, or any other entity that brings business - say cruise ships, or beer trucking companies, or more container ships - to anyone's residential or mixed use neighborhood. Are they expected to be good neighbors and, like the doctors' Hippocratic oath, "first do no harm". Or is it OK for them to avoid doing Environmental Impact Studies, then pump a few more unmitigated tons of carcinogenic Sulfur, or Nitrogen Oxides, or asthma inducing Particulate Matter into your kids' lungs (kids with 40% asthma rates, as is the case in Red Hook) - as long as it's in the name of "economic development" - even if it doesn't do anything for economic vitality, small businesses, etc. in your neighborhood?

I hope the voice of Red Hook came through loud and clear in my testimony. My fear is that these meetings or hearings are often convened so that it can be said that the community had a chance to voice their concerns, then the status quo can continue, with a few little concessions around the edges to appease the locals (think: the cruise terminal bus parking lot).

My hope is that, like the issue with the trucks (whose advocates are on a roll), the comprehensive issue of port pollution, especially concerning the emissions from ships, gains more traction.

This issue needs its "heavy weight" advocates in Congress and in government. We need some local organizations to start speaking out more on these issues - environmentalists, advocates of environmental justice, community representatives. They're out there - there's just not much noise being made yet - which isn't helped by the total neglect and down right negligence of the local press in covering this issue. ( e.g. - Port Authority says cruise ship pollution costing Brooklyn residents $9 Million a year in health costs. Response from press - SHRUG).

As I said, in my testimony,

"We have to get going on this so we can finally take these dangerous, yet totally avoidable pollutants, out of our harbor city’s air.

Then, Red Hook residents and the residents of our entire city will finally be able to breathe easy."


Monday, June 14, 2010

Phoenix is Using Pier 11 for Recycling Only.

More information has come to light on why Phoenix trucks are shuttling between Pier 11 (photo above) and Pier 7, speeding and rattling their way through Columbia Street and other residential streets, despite the lies ... um, I mean assurances made by Phoenix, their owner Greg Brayman and the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) via their Vice President, Venetia Lannon, that Phoenix trucks would be using the internal roadways of the container terminal as much as possible.

Apparently, Phoenix is using the Pier 11 shed for recycling the empty bottles that they collect when they make their deliveries. This is what the I've been told the split is between the uses of the two piers on our waterfront.

This, via someone with some knowledge of Phoenix's operations -

"The (trucks) begin at Pier 7 (where they spend the night), get loaded up with beer/wine/spirits, and then drive out the Pier 7 gate to the BQE and off to their destinations. When they make their deliveries, they pick up empty bottles. Those bottles are then delivered to Pier 11, where they are processed for recycling (per the requirements of the State's bigger, better bottle bill) at a facility that Phoenix has set up there. They then drive (empty) from Pier 11 to Pier 7, to get loaded up again for deliveries ... and it is these trips that go on local streets. (Moving the goods from where they are off-loaded from ships, to the Pier 7 warehouse, does take place within the Port)."

So the Pier 11 shed is being used for recycling? That explains why I saw the recycling bins inside the cavernous shed a number of weeks back, on one of PortSide NY's "community sails" on the ship, Clipper City, as we sailed past one of the huge shed's open doors. (see photo)

So that's what Phoenix is using Pier 11 for? Recycling? That's why the EDC insisted that Phoenix take Pier 11, as well as the much larger Pier 7, when Phoenix only ever said they needed one? This murky deal, all at the expense of more waterfront access and more community and people-friendly elements that were part of Community Board 6 guidelines and our 197a Plan?

The fact is that when the EDC announced their plan to relocate Phoenix Beverages from Long Island City to Red Hook's waterfront, they said that Phoenix's entire operations would be accommodated in the Pier 11 shed. Then, after the community suggested that Pier 7 would be a better location and a deal was struck to get the much larger Pier 7 shed, as was Phoenix's first preference, it seemed like it would be a win-win situation - for Phoenix and for the community who didn't want to exclude Phoenix from the waterfront, but did want to make sure that pollution and traffic issues were addressed as well as their clearly articulated desire for more public access, open space, reconnection to the waterfront and waterborne transportation, etc. That's why it was such a shock when the EDC announced that Phoenix would take up both Pier 11 and Pier 7, book-ending the entire waterfront, at the exclusion of much of what the community had so desired - except for the inclusion of PortSide NY who would be given a 600 foot length of the Atlantic Basin and a small portion of the Pier 11 shed.

So, now, to hear that Phoenix is using the Pier 11 shed for recycling, when surely that could also be accommodated at Pier 7 - the larger shed - is just astounding.

This is in addition to the news that the "EDC and Phoenix feel that they only committed that overweight/container trucks would stay inside the Port ... but that they always knew that delivery trucks would run on local streets (with Van Brunt - Columbia as the truck route)."

Well, we never heard that at any of the meetings, and they are just lying if they're saying otherwise.

All of this, including the revelation that Phoenix is only shuttling their between Pier 7 and 11 along residential streets, posing dangers to pedestrians, creating congestion and pollution, because they have their recycling bins in the Pier 11 shed - when it's pretty clear this activity, and all of their needs could be accommodated in the huge Pier 7 shed - is further reason to sign the petition.

Phoenix Beverages Should Use Pier 7 Only To Reduce Truck Traffic On Our Residential Streets

Sign the petition HERE

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tommorow: Kentler Presents - “Drawing Together” free Saturday art workshops for families

I meant to pass this on earlier, but our friends at Kentler gallery are having a family workshop tomorrow - Saturday - at beautiful Valentino Pier. Hope you can get along. Here are the details -

Kentler International Drawing Space (K.I.D.S.) Art Education Program presents

“Drawing Together” free Saturday art workshops for families (designed for ages 4 and up but all are welcome)


For DRAWING TOGETHER in June families will explore Valentino Pier through exciting art making activities!

JOIN US Saturday, June 12, 10:00 – 11:30 am with teaching artist Kate Baird

Workshop will be held at Valentino Pier (at the end of Coffey Street) in Red Hook, Brooklyn

Call Kate Baird: 417-839-3619 or email: katebaird@yahoo.com

For more information about K.I.D.S. Art Education please visit our blog:

Many thanks to Target for support of this program.

KENTLER INTERNATIONAL DRAWING SPACE / 353 Van Brunt St., (Red Hook) Brooklyn, NY 11231/ 718-875-2098 / info@kentlergallery.org


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sign the Petition To Confine Phoenix Beverages Operations to Pier 7 to Reduce Truck Traffic on our Residential Streets.

The previous post, below, laid out the assurances, now shown to be lies, that Phoenix Beverages and the EDC made to the community in many meetings that preceded the relocation of their operations to the Red Hook waterfront in Brooklyn, at Pier 7 at the bottom of Pioneer Street and Pier 11 at the bottom of Atlantic Avenue.

Greg Brayman, Phoenix's owner, is now saying that his promise that Phoenix trucks would use internal streets, within the container terminal site, as much as possible, actually only applied to the larger container carrying trucks - not the delivery trucks - despite the fact that the delivery trucks were the only trucks ever discussed in the multiple meetings and included in the Power Point presentations, etc., that my family and I (and many of my neighbors) attended.

Mr. Brayman is also now saying, contrary to all that our community was previously told,

"There's really no other way to get from point A to point B," (Quote from Daily News article)

In other words, the only way to get his delivery trucks from "Point A" (Pier 11) to "Point B" (Pier 7) is via Columbia Street.

Well, that that goes totally counter to the assurances that Phoenix and the EDC made, and if what Mr. Brayman says is true, then the only solution is that Phoenix use ONLY Pier 7 at the bottom of Atlantic Avenue, with that location's close proximity to the BQE exits/entrances. This will alleviate any need to use Columbia Street to shuttle their trucks between the two piers.

This should be no imposition for Phoenix. They only ever wanted one pier, and Pier 7 was their first choice. Also, the Pier 7 shed is much bigger than that of Pier 11, the one that the EDC initially wanted to hand over to Phoenix when one pier seemed enough - that was before the dodgy deal to lock up two of our piers and much of our publicly owned waterfront, including the precious, unique and historic Atlantic Basin, for 20-years. The result of this befuddling and less than transparent process was little public waterfront access and little given back to the community between the Brooklyn Bridge Park and Valentino Pier - a decision that ran contrary not only to community sentiment, but contrary to our to our hard fought 197a Plan and our widely supported Community Board 6 guidelines.

So - if you agree that Phoenix has mislead our community (if not violated the terms of their lease which should result in its termination) and you agree that a easy and quick antidote for the trucks that are barreling down our residential streets is that Phoenix's operations should be confined to Pier 7, please sign this petition, below.




Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Phoenix Beverages and the NYCEDC are LIARS

The mystery of why Phoenix Beverages (a.k.a. Long Feng Trucking) delivery trucks are roaring through the streets of Red Hook and the Columbia Waterfront, instead of using the internal roadways of the container terminal, as per the many assurances made through Phoenix's owner, Greg Brayman, and the agency who brought the beer distribution company to the Red Hook waterfront, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) under the leadership of Venetia Lannon, has been solved.

"Oh," says Phoenix and the EDC, "you mean those trucks?"

Apparently, when Phoenix and the EDC made their presentations to the different neighborhoods that would be feeling the impact of the additional 200+ truck trips a day, and they assured us that the trucks would use the 'internal' roads as much as possible, they weren't actually referring to the delivery trucks .... no, not those trucks ... the ones and the only ones that they had included photos of in their glossy PowerPoint presentations, all nice and shiny with the added assurance that they would soon be converted from dirty diesel to cleaner CNG (if we just gave them 7 years to do so). The only ones that anyone ever spoke of. No they weren't referring to those trucks - the ones that would be making the additional 200 delivery trips a day, the impact of which we were all so concerned about. They were actually ... silly me ... referring to the container trucks that moved the big shipping containers that were being brought in on the container ships - when they were talking about trucks using the internal roadways as much as possible it was to those trucks that they were actually referring.

We'll you could have fooled me - and apparently they did and everyone else in those meetings.

Because, if there's any truth to this latest Daily News article, the EDC, through spokesman David Lombino (someone I've never seen nor heard of before) is saying

"We're working ... to find a solution for lighter delivery trucks that would avoid more residential blocks,"

The article continues to say that,

"City officials promised before Phoenix moved onto the Red Hook waterfront last year that the company's container trucks would use roads inside the port instead of neighborhood streets. But they said that pledge didn't apply to the smaller delivery trucks now flooding Columbia St."

Well that is an outright lie - and if not, then the EDC and Phoenix were parsing their words at those many, many meetings on a Clintonesque level - somewhat like, "That depends on what the meaning of "is" is" - according to the EDC and Phoenix it depends on what the meaning of "truck" is.

Well, all who attended those meetings - unlike Mr. Lombino, who did not - know what the EDC and Phoenix meant (or perhaps were hoping we thought they meant). All the "truck" conversations centered on the delivery trucks. The ones they had the photos of. The ones that are now rocketing down Columbia Street with their doors open, banging and noisily clattering as they go over bumps, shuttling between Pier 11 at the bottom of Pioneer Street, to Pier 7 at the bottom of Atlantic Avenue. Everyone was concerned that they would have an impact on local traffic, congestion and pollution and that was why we were given assurances - promises, in fact - that they would use internal roads, and exit via either Atlantic Ave or Bowne Street which were both close to BQE exits/entrances.

That's what people said - from the EDC - from their Maritime dept. VPs, Venetia Lannon and Andrew Genn, to Executive Vice President Madelyn Wils and even the President of the EDC, Seth Pinsky. They also talked about "balance" and a "new paradigm" that Phoenix would bring. What bullsh*t artists. Meanwhile our kids are sucking in smoke and carcinogenic pollution, without any mitigation, in a neighborhood that has 40% asthma rates and they are dodging more trucks in an already overly-burdened residential ... yes guys, residential neighborhood. That's some great "new paradigm", Ms. Wils.

Greg Brayman, whose family owns Phoenix Beverages, and his father said the same. The younger Mr. Brayman even said that he would be "more or less living on site" so any negative impacts would be addressed thoroughly because they would be borne by him and his family too. Yeah, right!

There have been so many disingenuous statements about this matter - from the claim from the EDC that they and Phoenix would be happy with Pier 7 (and not 11) if they could get it. To the promises about the cleaner CNG trucks .... if only we can wait 7 years. To the whittled down assurances on public access and open space around the Atlantic Basin, the Governors Island Ferry, water taxi - the false claim that they were adhering to "Community Board guidelines", the whole dodgy deal that went down at the Port Authority General Meeting .... can anybody please explain what that was all about? - was it just money, some swap with ASI for rent at Howland Hook or something? I don't know. Chris Ward, the PA's Executive Officer, said it was "just business", but why were Red Hook screwed so badly? .... and why were Phoenix more or less forced to take both Pier 7 and Pier 11 when clearly Pier 7 was more than enough, being much bigger than Pier 11, and all that their taking of Pier 11 ensured was the tying up of that space and the Atlantic Basin for 20 years, and the reoccupation of most of Pier 11 by ASI/American Stevedoring (it's included in their own site map now) .... despite Chris Ward's assurance to his board that American Stevedoring had nothing to gain from this Phoenix deal? What the hell is going on here?

Unfortunately, it's just another chapter in the long history of the residents of Red Hook, and now the Columbia Street Waterfront, being lied to and then becoming 'collateral damage' in the name of "economic development". When it comes to the likes of the EDC and their plans for our waterfront, all they seem to bring is more trucks, more dirty diesel burning ships, 5-storey salt piles, cement plants, unmitigated carcinogenic pollution, underhanded tactics, disingenuous statements and dodgy deals with zero transparency and no regard for the health of our children ... really, NO F'ING REGARD ..... they don't seem to give a damn about any of the residents, or even the small businesses .... oh, sorry, I forgot ....

..... there is that bus parking lot in the Cruise Ship Terminal they're handing over to the "community" on non-cruise days.

Thanks EDC!!! You're the best.

And Phoenix - or Long Feng Trucking - you're right up there, too.

Ed note: Re: Picture above. As a commenter has noted, this may not be a Phoenix/ Long Feng Beverages truck, but it's a beverage truck on Columbia Street jamming up traffic as the B61 tries to get past. I took the photo last year and I've used it on previous posts about the congestion on Columbia Street - about 3 times. As I have used this photo many times, I thought it to be a fair illustration of what we're dealing with. I had no intention to mislead the readers of this blog, and I hoped regular readers would have seen that it was a reuse of an older photo. I have, however, witnessed first hand, as many have, the chaos that Phoenix's trucks are creating on Columbia Street. The photo at the top of this post is a Phoenix Beverages truck that I snapped last week as it raced in front of me from Bowne Street to Atlantic Ave., via Columbia Street, with its doors wide open, rattling through the streets.