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Essays and Press Release of Note about New York City

The Water - front.
 

Testimony Beofre the Committee on Waterfronts and the Subcommitee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses

Brooklyn Piers 7–12 Acquisition by NYEDC from the Port Authority of NY/NJ

" Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to testify on the planning and redevelopment of the Brooklyn waterfront.

The Partnership for New York City is an organization of the city’s business leaders and largest employers. We promote policies and projects that we believe will encourage job creation and economic growth across the five boroughs. The Partnership works closely with both the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York City Economic Development Corporation on a variety of issues and projects. We support the decision of these agencies with regard to the proposed acquisition of Piers 7-12 by the City. We believe that this transaction will contribute to the improvement of the working waterfront on both the New York and New Jersey sides of New York Harbor.

The City’s plan for these piers envisions a working waterfront where jobs are created, new industries can thrive, and port activities are preserved. The Economic Development Corporation is the appropriate government agency to carry out renewal, preservation and expansion of the city’s industrial waterfront as one element of larger efforts to build and diversify the economy of the five boroughs.

The Port Authority was created to develop, maintain and manage the region’s transportation infrastructure. It was not designed to serve as an economic development agency and much of the neglect of Brooklyn’s waterfront over the past forty years reflects the fact that we have looked to the Port Authority to undertake a role that was neither its mandate nor core competence.

Piers 7-12 constitute a stretch of Brooklyn’s working waterfront where redevelopment should be integrated with the renewal of adjacent neighborhoods as well as the expansion of the city’s tourism industry, the increased role of ferries in the public transit system and the development of Governor’s Island. To revitalize the piers and surrounding area will require rezoning, street-mapping, property acquisition and disposition that are best planned and performed by the city, pursuant to our charter-mandated land use process.

The City’s plan for the piers recognizes that the Red Hook waterfront is an appropriate place for the coexistence of port activities and a mixture of light industrial and water-dependent uses. For example, on Piers 7, 8, 9A and 9B the industrial port activities, which could include stevedoring and warehouses, can continue to operate while nearby properties are handed to other light industrial users, such as maritime parts manufacturing, maritime repair or a brewery. Pier 11 and the Atlantic Basin could have a marina, waterfront marketplace, retail and light industrial uses--timely proposed uses that can coexist with port activities, as demonstrated by cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver.

The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, developed by the Economic Development Corporation, is an example of smart reuse of Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront. It has created 290 permanent jobs, relying on both dockworkers and service employees from the local neighborhood. The Cruise Terminal’s expansion, as envisioned in the City’s plan, is a logical response to the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. Today’s huge cruise ships, with 3,500 passengers, demand the parallel berths and large terminals available on Piers 10 and 12.

The City’s aggressive commitment to rebuild the Brooklyn waterfront—from the Brooklyn Army Terminal to Sunset Park, Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park, through the Navy Yard and all the way to Williamsburg and Greenpoint—is exciting and long awaited. It includes new residential and commercial uses, as well as preservation of necessary industrial and freight activities. For too many years, the properties in question have been under-utilized, some with subsidized operations. The mix of proposed uses is the best way to create a steady stream of new jobs across a range of businesses.

With respect to container port functions, the EDC has reaffirmed its commitment to reinvigorating container port functions in Sunset Park. Given this commitment, we conclude that the City’s plan for Piers 7-12, which maintains the current industrial space and also introduces more diversified uses into what has been long derelict or underutilized waterfront property, deserves our support.

 


The Partnership for New York City (www.pfnyc.org) is a network of business leaders dedicated to enhancing the economy of the five boroughs of New York City and maintaining the city’s position as the global center of commerce, culture and innovation.

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