Thursday, February 19, 2009

Waterfront plans discussion.

As some of you may know, the city has announced they are intending to have Phoenix beverage move into the container port at pier 11 - or perhaps also pier 7. Phoenix is a large beer distributor and the sole distributor of Heineken in the NYC area.

All the issues surrounding this are very complicated, but the most controversial issue is the fact that Phoenix has about 100 beer delivery trucks that will be using some neighborhood streets. The vast majority of Phoenix's deliveries will not be local ones, so they will have no reason to to be driving up and down Columbia, Union, VanBrunt or other local streets.

According to Phoenix and the city, from pier 7, the trucks would be traveling from the foot of Atlantic ave. where the B63 buses end their routes, to the on/off ramps of the BQE on Atlantic and the north end of Columbia St. From pier 11, they would be traveling along Bowne St., cross VanBrunt St. and proceed to Hamilton ave. where they would access the BQE on/off ramps there. Please refer to this map of the piers if you're not sure where each pier is.

Phoenix has stated publicly that they have almost their whole fleet of trucks converted to run on cleaner burning natural gas and that most of their deliveries leave well before rush hour at 6:00 am.

The larger picture is that this will allow Phoenix to reduce their overall number of truck trips into the city since the shipping containers from Europe they currently receive have to be trucked from Port Elizabeth, through the city, to their current distribution center in Long Island City. This will also prevent the 600 jobs that Phoenix brings from moving somewhere else out of the city.

Another point is that any kind of development on the piers, whether it's commercial, residential or even a gigantic park will result in additional traffic on local streets; potentially much more traffic. Given the current poor state of the area's mass transit options, this is unavoidable.

Finally, many people believe that pier 7 is a better choice for Phoenix to set up their operation. Doing so would free up pier 11 and Atlantic basin in Red Hook for additional development options that could create hundreds of additional jobs, such as the maritime center that has been proposed by the Fox/Durst group.

So I ask: What do people envision for the waterfront in this community, given the current economy and the proposed plan?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Columbia Street Greenway Cleanup: Saturday, February 14th

Bring your valentine and join BGI’s first 2009 clean-up along the Columbia Street section of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. BGI launched monthly clean-ups last summer in cooperation with the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association, in order to keep the newest segment of the Greenway free of trash and debris. Work gloves and tools supplied – but be sure to dress for the weather! Any and all help is welcome since the recent winds have blown a larger than normal amount of trash into the area.

When: Saturday, February 14th, 10:00AM-11:30AMWhere: BGI’s Office, 145 Columbia Street, b/t Kane and DegrawIf you don’t see us outside, ring BGI’s doorbell on the left-hand side of the residential entranceRSVP: Brian at

Monday, February 9, 2009

CoWNA letter to the EDC: Waterfront development.

The letter below was sent to the EDC on 2/8/09:

January 8, 2009

Re: New York City Economic Development Corp.
RFP for Pier 11/Atlantic

The Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood association believes that the waterfront infrastructure that both our neighborhood and Red Hook share is a valuable resource that can be used to drive “green” economic development, create long lasting jobs at a living wage and become a public attraction to allow the surrounding neighborhoods to thrive. We also strongly believe that all of these goals can and should be reached in concert.

With that in mind, we are dismayed that the New York City Economic Development Corp. has strongly favored moving Phoenix Beverages to the Atlantic Basin and doesnot appear to have seriously considered other proposals.

Phoenix would be moving their existing jobs from Long Island City to the Red Hook container port. This means that Phoenix will not be creating any new jobs in New York City. If the EDC was to think creatively about more fully utilizing the entire waterfront port infrastructure, there would be a strong potential for creation of hundreds of additional good paying jobs. In this economic environment we find it surprising that the EDC wouldn’t work as hard as possible toward that goal to create as much economic development and job creation as possible. This is, after all, their mandate.

Though involving the public later than we would have liked, we appreciate that the EDC has finally initiated a public dialog on this topic, as witnessed at the Community Board 6 meeting on January 5.

We look forward to participating in a process that effectively engages all community stakeholders and our elected officials. This will realize the full potential of this valuable public resource.

Mike Webster
President, Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood assoc.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New "Neighbor" in the Columbia Waterfront district

As many of you may have noticed, there is a very large pile of white material on the upland portion of pier 9A in the container port, at the foot of Kane St. We have learned that the material is, as suspected, road salt. It isn't known if the salt is for the Dept. of Sanitation, privately owned, or for other governmental bodies. We do know that the salt was delivered by ship and is being shuttled to the storage pile by large dump trucks within the port complex. It is unknown how long the pile will be there.

As of 2/5, large tarps have been placed on the pile, covering some of it. Despite this, much of the salt is certain to run-off and blow into our neighborhood. Long time residents remember when there was another smaller road salt pile about 10 years ago closer to DeGraw St that remained there for about two full years. They have conveyed stories of stinging windblown salt and the need to cover their face when walking on Columbia St. in windy conditions. There is a strong liklihood that windblown salt could damage or kill the newly planted trees on the block as well as damage vehicles parked there.

We at CoWNA are working hard to get more information about this and will relay that as we learn more. Any neighborhood residents or businesses concerned about this are strongly urged to call 311.