Friday, November 9, 2012

Support Hurricane Recovery Efforts at Chio' on November 12th

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative will generously donate the proceeds from their fall benefit to the newly formed Brooklyn Recovery Fund which is a Hurricane Sandy relief fund jointly administered by the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President.

Please join them on Monday, November 12th, 6:00-9:00pm, at the new Chio' Restaurant in the Columbia Waterfront District, at the corner of Columbia and Kane.  More information about the event here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Book Launch

The public is invited to Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) Gallery on Saturday, October 6, 2012 to celebrate the book launch of IMAGES OF RED HOOK, featuring the urban landscape photography of Thomas Rupolo.

IMAGES OF RED HOOK is a visual representation of this unique part of Brooklyn but is much more than simply a gallery of photos.  Containing over 120 color images of industrial sites (some long-gone), urban mosaics, close-ups, panoramas, a sunset or two, and cranes, lots of cranes – this book provides an in-depth view of this fascinating and vibrant place.

Through the eyes of Thomas Rupolo and the voices of both new and old members of this community, IMAGES OF RED HOOK explores the past, present and future of this neighborhood.

Book Launch:
Saturday, October 6, 5PM-9PM

BGI Gallery, 153 Columbia Street, Brooklyn

30% of proceeds from the sale of IMAGES OF RED HOOK will be donated by the artist to support BGI’s work.

Media Sponsor: Food and Beverage Sponsors: Brooklyn Brewery, Fairway-Red Hook, Waterfront Wines & Spirits/ Additional Support: The O’Connell Organization

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Participatory Budgeting Returns

Last year's participatory budgeting process in the 39th Council District was a big success.  Brad Lander is repeating the process again this year enabling district residents to determine how $1 million of public funds is spent.  Neighborhood assemblies will be held this month and next to introduce the process, solicit ideas and organize working groups.

The first assembly begins 6:30pm, Monday, September 24, at the Carroll Gardens Library, 396 Clinton Street at Union.  More information about Participatory Budgeting available here from Brad Lander's website.  RSVP is requested.

For residents of the Columbia Waterfront, this is an opportunity to promote long desired improvements to the BQE 'ditch' such as pedestrian enhancements like sidewalk extensions and planting along Hicks Street.  Please participate and help make our neighborhood even more terrific than it already is!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Shop & Dine Columbia Waterfront Art Contest

Columbia Street Clock - source: Lost City Blog
 The Columbia Waterfront District Coalition invites you to create your artistic interpretation of the distinctive images of the neighborhood: 1) the missing Historic Columbia Street Clock; 2) Gantries; and 3) Maritime images. The purpose of the art contest is to help create a unique identity and promote the Columbia Waterfront District’s commercial corridor and the neighborhood.

Port Gantry Cranes - source: PortSide NewYork

The winning artwork will be used as design for the Street Banners that will installed along the commercial corridor. Winning entries will also be used on t-shirts, stickers, posters, coffee mugs, hats, and other promotional materials to both publicize the Columbia Waterfront District and raise funds for the neighborhood’s signage and banners that will be installed along the Columbia Waterfront District’s Commercial Corridor. The neighborhood’s commercial corridor extends from Atlantic Avenue to Hamilton Avenue along Columbia Street and from Van Brunt Street to Hicks Street along Union Street.

Complete details and rules of the contest can be downloaded here.

PortSide NewYork Returns to the Mary Whalen

After a brief stay on Columbia Street in temporary offices, PortSide NewYork moved back aboard the tanker Mary Whalen while the organization continues its search for a permanent home for the ship.  Keep updated on their progess by checking their website and support one of Brooklyn's most unique cultural resources.

Carroll Gardens Association Fall Festival

Carroll Gardens Association, Inc. will be holding the 4th Annual Columbia Waterfront Fall Festival on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The annual Street Fair runs from the DeGraw Street to Union Street along Columbia Street and from Columbia Street to Hicks Street along Union Street. This year’s Street Fair is anticipated to be well attended by thousands of visitors and community residents enjoying a day of food, fun for all ages, shopping, live entertainment, games and rides. This year’s event is sponsored by Apple Bank, Ascot Properties, Jabus Building Corporation, and Downstate Long Island Hospital.

For more information click here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Help Reduce Speeding on Congress Street

The new buildings at the north end of our community are home to new families who like to use Van Voorhees park.  But getting there can be dangerous when contending with the vehicles racing up Congress in an attempt to sidestep BQE congestion.

A local resident is soliciting signatures on a petition to the DOT to address this matter. Sign up at 

More exciting: Channel 12 News will be at the corner of Hicks and Congress tomorrow, Thursday August 2 at 8:30a.  Come out and show your support.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative's Summer Benefit Party

Join the Board, Host Committee and other Greenway supporters for BGI's annual summer benefit cocktail party, New Views 2012: Williamsburg Bistro & Bites  on the Williamsburg Waterfront. 

Guests of honor will include Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez and NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn.

When: Thursday, June 21, 2012  6:00p to 9:00p
Where: Williamsburg Edge

Thursday, May 17, 2012

OpSail 2012 in Red Hook Memorial Day

An opportunity to visit a normally inaccessible part of the Brooklyn Waterfront and tour some great ships.  Don't forget to stop by PortSide NewYork's SOS pop up at 145 Columbia Street and support them in their effort to preserve historic ships.

More Red Hook OpSail info at is 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sign Petition on Behalf of PortSide NewYork

Help PortSide NewYork find a permanent home for their historic tanker and their innovative programming.  Sign the petition to Mayor Bloomberg encouraging him to make it possible for historic ships to use New York's piers and to foster increased use of the waterfront for educational and cultural purposes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Afternoon Garden Party

Help support the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative by attending their Sunday Afternoon Garden Party at one of the Waterfront's newest restaurants, Pok Pok NY on Columbia Street.

Date: Sunday April 22, 2012
Time: 1 - 4 PM
Place: Pok Pok NY, 127 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY

More information about the event here.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Participatory Budgeting - Vote Now!

Alex Moore at Councilmember Brad Lander's office reports that over 1500 people have pledged to vote in the participatory budgeting process.  Let's help ensure that the effort is a success - Voting locations for the weekend:

Saturday, March 31

Windsor Terrace Library
160 East 5th Street
10:00am - 4:30pm
PS 58
330 Smith Street
10:00am - 6:00pm
Old Stone House
336 3rd Street
10:00am - 7:00pm

Sunday, April 1

Beth Jacob Day
Care Center
1363 46th Street
10:00am - 5:00pm
Old Stone House
336 3rd Street
10:00am - 5:00pm
Carroll Park
Carroll Street between Court and Smith
10:00am - 5:00pm

Ballots listing the projects and more information is available at

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Voting Near for Participatory Budgeting

Voting for the 20 projects on the Participatory Budgeting Ballot commences March 27 and ends April 1 at various locations around the District.  Please visit Councilmember Brad Lander's Participatory Budgeting site for more detail about the projects, a sample ballot and voting locations.

This is your chance to influence how approximately $1 million of capital funds will be spent.  The projects are spread throughout the district and target parks, education, transit as well as other needs.
Sample Ballot

Friday, March 16, 2012

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Open House

  BrooklynGreenway Initiative (BGI) is thrilled to announce the opening of our new storefront office space at 153 Columbia Street. To celebrate this milestone, we are hosting an Open House on Thursday, March 22nd, 5:00PM-8:00PM.
BGI is grateful to the many local businesses and volunteers who have contributed their time and expertise to help renovate and outfit our new office space, and we are especially thankful for capacity-building funding from the Lu Esther T. Mertz Advised Fund of the New York Community Trust and the Brenner Family Foundation. BGI's office move would not have been possible without their generous support.

BGI’s new office features reclaimed antique flooring from The Hudson Co., installed by local carpenter Rob McBride with finishing by Red Hook Flooring; reclaimed windows from Alma Viva Restaurant and modern furnishings designed and built by Pickett Furniture. Additional contributors include A-One Locksmiths, Inc.; Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition; Film Biz Recycling & Prop Shop; Franke, Gottsegen, Cox Architects; Beth Kenkel; Ohm Acoustics Corp.; O’Lampia Studio, Inc.; Pro Electric Corp.; Peter Raymond; Vincente Painting and Waterfront Kitchens. In addition, BGI extends our sincere thanks to all of the enthusiastic and tireless volunteers who went above and beyond the call of duty to get our new office space into tip-top shape.

To officially celebrate our new home and to acknowledge everyone who helped build out and equip the space, BGI invites all greenway supporters to our Open House on Thursday, March 22nd, 5:00PM-8:00PM. Thank you to our event sponsors: Waterfront Wines & Spirits at One Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Brewery, Nine Cakes, Denise Fasanello Floral Design, and Fairway Red Hook. Special thanks to The O’Connell Organization for ongoing support.

To RSVP, email your full contact information to Space is limited, so please RSVP by Monday, March 19th

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Keeping Our Eyes on the Port

From Councilmember Brad Lander:
Meeting the new stevedore

Two weeks ago, many of you joined me for a meeting with the new operator of the Red Hook Container Terminal, the piers along the Columbia Waterfront and northwest Red Hook. At the meeting, Greg Brayman of Phoenix Beverage Company introduced residents to the staff and operations of the new Red Hook Container Terminal operator, which replaced American Stevedoring last fall as the operator of the port (a.k.a. "the stevedore"). Greg gave an overview of port operations and of some of their plans for the future. He provided the following two e-mail addresses for ongoing communication:
  • For general information regarding port operations:
  • For complaints about truck traffic -- especially when trucks are on Columbia Street south of Degraw, which is not a truck route -- residents should send the truck number, truck type and location to
A big resident concern at the meeting was about trucks using local streets, as opposed to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which Phoenix Beverages agreed to use at least for the duration of the Van Brunt Street Reconstruction Project. We are still going to need a longer-term solution to keep trucks off local streets after the reconstruction is finished. Another issue raised was the conversion of Phoenix Beverages' truck fleet from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG) to reduce air pollution in our community. Phoenix has begun converting its fleet, and remains committed to converting all its trucks to CNG within seven years, which is what they promised to do when they moved in.

Residents also expressed their support for the passage of the federal Clean Ports Act [see here -ed.], which would give ports across the country the tools to curb diesel emissions and promote fairer labor practices. Residents also stated their interest in keeping the Customs Inspection Station at the port open. I agree that both measures are important to an active, clean and safe waterfront.

Thanks to the community organizations and elected officials with whom I worked to organize the event, including the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Councilmember Sara González and Community Board 6.

Shore power

Since the meeting, you may have heard that the Port Authority Board of Commissioners has raised questions about the cost of bringing shore power to the Red Hook Cruise Terminal -- something that they committed to by a vote of their board last year. Shore power is vital, so that the enormous cruise ships can plug into an electrical grid, rather than keeping their diesel engines running at the terminal and emitting dangerous fumes for hours at a time. I am joining together with other local elected officials to insist that the Port Authority live up to the commitment that it made to us last year, and that shore power move forward without delay.
CoWNA is grateful to Councilmember Lander -- and his trusty district director, Catherine Zinnel -- for their hard work in putting together the meeting. We appreciate the elected officials and the stevedore staff who took the time to attend. Thanks also to the many community residents who contributed to the lively and worthwhile discussion.

Please don't hesitate to email Phoenix (, Councilmember Lander ( and State Senator Squadron ( if you see a Phoenix Beverages beer truck on a part of Columbia Street where it's not supposed to be!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Neighborhood Study Seeks Participants

Transportation Alternatives is reaching out to our community for volunteers to participate in a study about how residents perceive and use their neighborhood.  Please contact if you are interested.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

PortSide NewYork Threatened

PortSide NewYork, one of our area's most lively and unique cultural resources, is facing the loss of their berth at Atlantic Basin which could mean doom for the historic tanker Mary Whalen.  After years of struggling to establish a permanent presence in the Red Hook Container Terminal, new Homeland Security rules make it nearly impossible to hold meaningful activities at the ship.  PortSide is holding an emergency meeting to address the crisis.  More background information here.

When: Monday, February 27.
Time: 6:30p - 8:30p.
Where: LICH corner of Atlantic + Hicks, enter on Hicks Street.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Columbia Street Post Office Closing

Please help keep our post office on Columbia Street open.  Operator Rita Farone has a petition that you can sign at the post office at  257 Columbia Street.  It is also circulating in the neighborhood. 

We urge you to write to our elected officials as well.  Jump to The Word on Columbia Street for a handy list of links and the Postmaster General's address.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Next Step to Reduce Pollution from the Port [UPDATED]

CoWNA has endorsed the New York State Commercial Goods Transportation Industry Fair Play Act (A8997), and I want to take a minute to explain why.

This bill would protect truck drivers—like the ones who work on the Red Hook port—from misclassification as independent contractors. For neighborhoods like ours, this is not only a moral concern. It's actually a serious public health hazard.

Trucking companies engage in misclassification in order to increase profits by shifting business costs onto their employees. So, misclassified truck drivers are made to shoulder the cost of buying and maintaining their own trucks. But in the ports of New York and New Jersey, drivers who are misclassified as independent contractors earn just $28,000 a year, on average. That means the ports are filled with old, highly polluting trucks—many of them as much as 18 years old!

The results are dirty air and an estimated 1,663 premature deaths, 1,444 non-fatal heart attacks, 59,871 childhood asthma attacks and 3,630 cases of acute childhood bronchitis a year.

It’s time to clean up the port trucking industry.

But on $28,000 a year, misclassified truck drivers cannot afford the cost of new clean trucks. Only trucking companies have the economic power to do what is needed. Yet they will avoid the responsibility as long as they can misclassify their drivers as independent contractors.

CoWNA has urged Assemblywoman Millman to add her name to A8997 as a cosponsor. When the bill is introduced in the State Senate, we’ll ask the same of Senator Squadron.

We’ll keep you posted with any news.

UPDATE: Whaddya know! There is a Senate bill--S6267. A note to Senator Squadron is on its way.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CoWNA Seeks Nominations for Officers

Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association seeks nominations for the following executive positions in our organization: President, Vice President, Secretary.

Please submit an email or letter of interest with a short, one-paragraph bio and statement of interest. We will hold elections at a general meeting to be scheduled for spring 2012. For submittal or more information:

A brief overview of our activities is available here.

New Building on Columbia - continued

We've received two comments on our earlier post about the proposed new building on Columbia Street (see below).  A clarification of the criticism of the original post is in order:  nowhere is it indicated that the new building should be designed using a traditional or historic vocabulary.  The Waterfront District is indeed a 'mixed bag' of styles (as are most New York neighborhoods, actually) and of course contemporary design can coexist successfully with historic buildings.

The problem with Loading Dock 5's project is just that it is not very good, not that it is 'contemporary'.  And being 'green' does not compensate for clumsiness.  Unfortunately one can't refer to it any longer.  That the image of the building was removed from their website indicates that either they or their client was not happy about it being seen by the public.  Why would that be, if the designers and the developer were confident of their work? 

I am encouraged that there is some discussion about this project! I hope that others, plus the developer and designers (with plans and images, hopefully) join in: we'd love to see a lively exchange about this: it would help all of us clarify what kind of city we hope to live in and signal our expectations to the inevitable future developers.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Redistricting Blues

Every 10 years, after the census, the Assembly, State Senate and Congressional maps are redrawn. This process is called redistricting. Yesterday, we saw the first--and possibly last--draft of the new Assembly and Senate maps. (The Congressional ones aren't done yet.)

So, how does the Columbia Waterfront fare?

Not well.

Our Senate district may get a new name, but that's no big deal. We're in the 25th. We may become the 26th. Still, it's basically the same district now represented by State Senator Daniel Squadron.

The rub is the Assembly.

Right now, our whole neighborhood is in the 52nd Assembly District. Joan Millman is our assemblywoman. But under the proposed maps, we get divided between the 52nd and the 51st. That's the Red Hook-Sunset Park district now held by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz.

Take a look:

Now, this is only a draft. A lot could happen between now and ... well, redistricting is contentious, and it has a way of dragging on. Let's just say a lot could happen. Then again, maybe not.

This point is this: If the final maps look like the proposed ones, then the voting power of the Columbia Waterfront, such as it is, will be diluted. When Assemblymember 52 looks at our neighborhood, or Assemblymember 51, they're going to see a lot fewer votes than Assemblymember 52 sees now.

This may or may not matter in the short run. But in the long run, two Assemblymembers are not better than one.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brad Lander to Present Overview of Port Changes

As most in the community know, there has recently been a change in operations at the Red Hook Terminal.  The departure of American Stevedoring as operator and the imminent threat by U. S. Customs to cease servicing the port are events that could have a profound impact on our neighborhood.  Council member Brad Lander has organized a meeting to update the neighborhood on these developments and, hopefully, help us understand what the future may hold.

Date: 9 February 2012
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Postgraduate Center, 177 Columbia Street

Our neighborhood is uniquely affected by the port: idling ships pollute our air, truck traffic on our local streets contributes to pollution and is a safety concern, and the salt pile is a corrosive nuisance.  However, the port is also a valuable and essential resource: it has the capacity to accommodate a wide variety of activities, from cruise ships to water taxis, shipping, recreational boating, cultural and educational centers to maintenance facilities.   Whether the port remains a viable enterprise for years to come should be a major concern for all in the Waterfront.  If it does not, then we will witness an all-to-familiar real estate free-for-all as agencies and developers rush to exploit what is one of the most desirable locations in Brooklyn.  Please join us, meet your neighbors and learn more about the port.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Columbia Waterfront Park Meeting

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative has scheduled a report-back meeting for the planned park along Columbia Street  between and Kane and Degraw.  Preliminary renderings will be presented and the community will be invited to comment.  Visit the BGI website regarding the meeting here and RSVP.

Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Time: 6:30p - 8:30p
Location: Union Street Star Theater, 101 Union Street

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

7 Story Building Planned for Columbia Street

An application for a new 7 story building at 255 Columbia Street (the former furniture store) has been filed at the Department of Buildings.  The proposed building will reach a height of 70 feet and contain 13 apartments.  The designer's blog includes a brief description of the building and an image of the street front. [Update 1/14/12 - the image on the designer's blog has apparently been removed].

Although we applaud the developer's commitment to constructing to Passive House standard, we are displeased with lack of sensitivity to the character of the neighborhood the image of the project reveals.  Our hope is that the drawing is a very early sketch and that further refinement of composition, proportions, and detailing is forthcoming.  As it is presented, this structure unfortunately resembles many of the mediocre contemporary infill buildings scattered throughout Williamsburg.

We welcome responsible development in our neighborhood and the influx of new residents who will be customers for our local businesses.  We urge the developer of this project to demand of his designers a more sophisticated design.  One that evinces a sensitivity to context and demonstrates an understanding of the meaningful differences in composition of building elements relative to the street, the property line, the building silhouette.  With a little care, we believe that this site could hold a building that both its owners and its neighbors will love.