On Friday, May 11, two days after the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and local leaders announced plans to reactivate the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) as a major shipping hub with the Red Hook Container Terminal and Industry City, the news was celebrated at the facility, 81 39th Street.
The event was attended by elected officials and representatives of EDC, the Red Hook Container Terminal, Industry City, the Sunset Park Task Force and other organizations who discussed their excitement about the plan that it is said will bring hundreds of jobs to the area along with maritime activity through a new entity, the Sustainable South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SSBMT).
“We are thrilled to be able to announce the Red Hook Container Terminal and their partners to be the leaders of this new effort,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “Tens of thousands of truck trips that would otherwise be going over our bridges out to New Jersey and back over from New Jersey and Connecticut will instead be coming via our waterfront, which is cleaner for everyone and good for our economy. We’ll have hundreds of good-paying jobs right here on this pier.”
“I believe fundamentally that an active port is imperative for the economic vitality of the city and the region, that our port must retain its position of dominance on the eastern seaboard of the United States and that Brooklyn must be an integral part of our port district,” said Congressmember Jerry Nadler. “Without exaggerating, I can tell you that the only possible site left in New York City for a deep water container port with rail access is Sunset Park, centered here. It is the only site where we don’t have to blast solid rock to handle modern ships.”
Nadler added that port operation at SBMT is, “An absolutely essential part of moving goods more efficiently, growing sustainable and local jobs in New York and protecting our environment. I believe it’s the first truly important and real step in moving forward with the creation of a deep water container port in Sunset Park for the greater good of the city, region, local community.”
President and CEO of Red Hook Container Terminal and designated operator of SSBMT Mike Stamatis was also in attendance.
“For many years, jobs were created on the other side of the river, taking away thousands of jobs from this waterfront which was once vibrant and active,” he said. “We’re going to roll up our sleeves and turn this once vibrant facility back into a fully purposed vibrant maritime facility for the near and distant future.”
Executive Director of UPROSE Elizabeth Yeampierre told this paper that she was encouraged by the plan.
“UPROSE has been fighting for energy regeneration for years. We’ve been wanting an industrial waterfront that is in fact industrial,” she said, adding that she wished other parts of Sunset would follow suit. “This is a great opportunity for this community to maintain maritime industrial uses and we have to applaud it but it makes us sad in Sunset Park because there they’re selling avocado toast and $25 cups of coffee. We’d like to see more of this.
“We live in the age of climate change so we need to see this throughout all of the maritime industrial areas,” Yeampierre added. “These are good paying jobs, our communities deserve it, and those are the jobs of the future.”
“This project is about creating more local activity and also about improving our local environment,” added Congressmember Nydia Velazquez. “When we reduce the use of trucks for long haul movement of freight and instead move cargo across water, we diminish traffic congestion on local highway and bridges.”
However, there is still work to be done, said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, specifically making sure that area residents can get jobs generated by the project. “Let’s keep working for accountability,” he said.
He also highlighted demands that were created in a 2015 agreement.
“There were so many things that were promised,” he said. These include, “funds that are going to put aside from the lease here at SBMT to go directly into the community to fuel the visionary work the community is doing. That wouldn’t be happening unless we had a conversation. We are also celebrating the incredible language that was put into the master lease that only maritime-dependent use will be put on that sites. It’s important because a lot of people have different visions, but our vision is very clear. ”