What Ward said that was not news but stirred the juices of some was when he asked the rhetorical question about the Brooklyn container port, “Is there we want our last working container port?” Of course it isn’t. Both the city and the Port Authority want it relocated to somewhere in Sunset Park. Its current location is a money loser, and it can never be profitable simply because it is too small and can never get bigger. So many other uses can be made of the four piers involved.
The emotional desire for some to hold on to the Columbia Street piers to keep the old days around is charming but impractical. A working Brooklyn waterfront does not mean the work has to be unloading cargo.
That kind of working waterfront should be located where the work makes sense as well as money. And when you’re talking about a an honest-to-God container port in Sunset Park, you have to also talk about an honest-to-God rail freight tunnel from New Jersey or Staten Island.
That it is simple to make sweeping conclusions about what should be done on parts of our waterfront underlies how tediously complex the planning process is.
The city, five years or so ago, was exactly right in its general conclusions about Piers 7 to 12. The facts that the city didn’t have enough pieces in hand — only the cruise line terminal; completely misunderstood the emotional sentiments associated with that space; and totally miscalculated the political prowess of the stevedores and the political help the union could call on, is why the issue is still undecided.
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