Mayor Bill de Blasio was joined by state, federal and local dignitaries at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) on Monday morning, June 29, to announce the reactivation of a new maritime shipping hub in southwest Brooklyn in an effort to generate a large number of high-quality jobs at the working waterfront as well as improve the area’s environment.
According to de Blasio, cargo ships that would have docked in New Jersey will be docking here in Brooklyn, bringing good jobs, taking trucks off our streets and helping spur this growing industrial hub. The port will be a part of the federal marine highway, which includes approximately 29,000 miles of navigable waterways within the U.S.
“Today we can see a renewed future for the south Brooklyn waterfront, like jobs, growth and environmental fairness all in one package,” he said. “A typical waterfront job has a starting pay of about $40,000 a year with benefits, rising to an average of $80,000 a year. These are solid jobs and obviously generally are unionized guaranteed.”
The mayor also discussed the hardships Sunset Park residents have endured over the years. “This will be a game changer for Sunset Park. And if you know Sunset, it’s a wonderful neighborhood here in Brooklyn, but it’s a neighborhood that’s been challenged by poverty for many years,” he said. “One in three families lives in poverty at Sunset Park. So opportunity here is crucial.”
Congressmember Nydia Velázquez was also on hand to applaud the mayor for the new master lease agreement for the SBMT. “The community and the people that I represent here at Sunset Park as well as in Red Hook that have been affected by environmental degradation and environmental injustice today can rest assure that we no longer look at a future where we will see stats showing that we have one of the highest rates of respiratory and asthma illnesses in Sunset Park,” she said.
De Blasio added the reopening would mean 275,000 fewer truck trips and 10,000 fewer tons of carbon monoxide emissions. “It’s a very substantial environmental plan,” he said.
Velázquez also promised that the community would be involved as the project moves forward. “We are going to have an inclusionary planning process for all phases of the redevelopment that will ensure all relevant voices have a say in the future of our waterfront,” she said. “I believe it is the first truly important step in moving forward with the creation of a deep water container port in Sunset Park beginning as SBMT.”
“This announcement today has redefined a name. This now is a sunrise community,” said Borough President Eric Adams, regarding the struggles of Sunset residents. “We are going to see this designation of a marine highway. It’s not going to be paved with potholes but with opportunity. We are going to see this community rise in jobs and opportunities with good union jobs.
This past May, the City Council approved a long-term Master Lease between the city and NYCEDC to activate an industrial maritime facility at the SMBT. The project will return maritime service to SBMT and allow for calls from a new generation of cargo ships that import consumer goods and raw materials from around the world.