City takes new tack on Red Hook waterfront
Posted Tuesday, July 17th 2007, 4:00 AM
Red Hook waterfront will stay the way it is - for now.
Red Hook's waterfront will remain a working port, due to an unexpected about-face by City Hall on its longstanding plans to evict a container port operator, sources said.
The Bloomberg administration's plans had called for expanding cruise ship operations, but a recent shuffle among top executives at the Economic Development Corp. appears to have prompted the course change, those familiar with the plan said.
"The good guys have won here," said Robert Varley, chief of staff for Councilman Mike Nelson (D-Sheepshead Bay), who heads the waterfront committee.
Observers familiar with the development plans said the Bloomberg administration had been entirely against continuing container port operations in Brooklyn until last week.
But the $56 million cruise ship terminal in Red Hook has failed to provide the expected number of jobs.
One year into operation, the terminal employed only 14 people full-time, the Daily News reported in April. The EDC in 2005 had promised 370.
Agency spokeswoman Janel Patterson said there was no official announcement and declined requests for an interview with new project manager Madelyn Wils.
"We're formulating plans which we hope we will be able to talk about soon," Patterson said, also declining to provide a time frame for a decision.
Councilwoman Jessica Lappin (D-Manhattan), who heads the maritime land-use subcommittee, had not heard from the EDC last week, but praised what seemed to be the agency's new direction.
"Moving away from an expansion of the cruise industry is a good idea, because it didn't generate the number of jobs they said it would," Lappin said.
But critics of the city's plans were still steamed about Wils' public comments suggesting that the existing port operator, American Stevedoring, would have to put in a new bid and compete with others to continue operations.
"Just because new employers take the place [of American Stevedoring] doesn't mean the jobs will stay," said Sandy Pope, president of Teamsters' Local 805, which represents 65 workers on Pier 7.