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: Info@RedHookTerminal.com
  • 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 trucktraffic@PhoenixBeverages.com
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 (trucktraffic@PhoenixBeverages.com), Councilmember Lander (lander@council.nyc.gov) and State Senator Squadron (squadron@nysenate.gov) if you see a Phoenix Beverages beer truck on a part of Columbia Street where it's not supposed to be!

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