Assemblymember Felix Ortiz is concerned over the potential trucking surge that could be coming to Sunset Park as a result of redevelopment of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT), which was announced this past summer during a press conference.
According to Ortiz, he recently voiced to Mayor Bill deBlasio that the redevelopment should not create a potential additional traffic burden for Sunset Park residents when the terminal officially opens.
“What I asked the mayor was to explain to us with this project coming what are the amounts of trucks that will come through Sunset Park,” Ortiz told this paper. “We’re hearing that some people are saying that it’s up to 50,000, some are saying 279,000.”
Along with potential traffic congestion, pollution is at the top of Ortiz’s concerns. “The bottom line is where is the environmental study that will tell us how many trucks will be allowed to come through?” he asked. “As a result, we have the BQE that is jammed. Third and Fourth avenues are jammed. Explain to us how we are going to deal with the traffic and trucking situation, especially since we have four schools nearby.”
Ortiz demands that a study be done to make sure the air is safe for Sunset residents. “I also asked the mayor and commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct an environmental admission study, especially since Sunset Park has one of the higher rates of asthma and bronchitis,” he said, claiming that the response is they will look into it and do it.
Potential jobs are also a priority for the assemblymember. “I also told the mayor that he has to ensure jobs get to the residents of Sunset Park,” he said.
Ortiz sent a press release listing the following concerns, however some believe the assemblymember should have voiced these concerns sooner. “”I find Felix’s letter disingenuous since he stood next to de Blasio when the announcement was made,” said Tony Giordano of Sunset Parker Facebook page, a popular page for residents of the neighborhood. “He heard the Mayor announce that 275,000 big rig trucks would be taken off the roads in New Jersey at Port Newark during the next five years. When I saw Felix’s photo supporting the Mayor I wrote to him and three of his staff asking why he would support 55,000 trucks a year being taken off the roads in an industrial area in New Jersey and put in the heart of residential Sunset Park.”
Although he attended the conference, Ortiz claims he has always had these concerns and expressed them early on. “I never said that I’m behind the project,” said Ortiz. “I went to the press conference and I made it very clear that I want an environmental study and I want to know how many trucks are going to come through before I make my decision to support it.”
This past fall, Ortiz also hosted two educational forums for the SBMT where he expressed that more answers were needed. “There should be transparency and a process where the community is informed and can participate and put direct input into that process,” he said during the meeting. “I’m here to tell them that people want to know how they’re going to reach out to the community about jobs.”