Council Member Brad Lander has been keeping busy with Columbia Street related issues - greener ports, safer pedestrian routes, and finding solutions for traffic issues including Phoenix Beverage beer trucks. Below is the Columbia Waterfront email that his office sent out this week. Be sure to pay close attention to the Greener Ports City Council hearing that he is organizing for this Thursday.
Dear Columbia Waterfront Neighbors:
I wanted to share with you some quick updates on a few neighborhood issues that affect the area along the Columbia Street Waterfront:
Greener Ports - City Council hearing this Thursday:
I hope you can join us for a hearing of the City Council's Waterfronts Committee on efforts to promote greener ports in the NY/NJ harbor. I've been pushing for this hearing, so that we can learn what the Port Authority & the Economic Development Committee (EDC) are doing to move the Port to cleaner trucks, cleaner ships, and cleaner equipment that are better for the region as a whole, and for port neighborhoods in particular.
The hearing is on all of the New York City-side parts of the Port, not just the Columbia Waterfront/Red Hook piers, but of course it is a highly relevant locally, and, we'll also hear from advocates about what other cities around the country (and the world) are doing to move toward 21st century ports. I hope you'll join us if you can.
When: June 17th at 1 PM
Where: 250 Broadway, 14th Floor
Safer pedestrian access to Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6
I hope that by now many of you have had the chance to take advantage of the newly opened Pier 6 section of Brooklyn Bridge Park. I have been contacted by a number of you about designing safer pedestrian routes from Cobble Hill to Pier 6, to enable pedestrians (many with kids, to get to the great new playground) to navigate the trip down either Columbia or Atlantic, across the BQE entrance ramps, across their Pier 7 truck gate.
In response to your concerns, we reached out to the NYC Department of Transportation. They are aware of the problem and working to design solutions. They indicated they would have some designs to show us in the next two weeks. We will keep you posted on this.
Phoenix Beverage trucks: a temporary solution
I have heard from many of you about the nuisance caused by the Phoenix beverage delivery trucks that that have been rumbling down Columbia Street in great numbers over the past few weeks.
On Friday, local elected officials (Senator Squadron, Congressman Nadler's office, Congresswoman Velazquez' office, Assemblywoman Millman's office and I) held a meeting with EDC, the Port Authority, Phoenix Beverage, and other stakeholders to discuss the delivery trucks.
We learned, to our displeasure, that while EDC has committed that Phoenix trucks would be staying internal to the Port (and would not run on local streets), the EDC and Phoenix feel that their commitment only applied to overweight/container trucks and that they always knew that delivery trucks would run on local streets (with Van Brunt - Columbia as the truck route). The other local electeds and I were extremely unhappy with this explanation, and are pushing EDC and Phoenix to make alternative plans that get this high volume of trucks off Columbia Street, where we believe they pose a very real danger to pedestrians and local traffic.
A temporary solution: We are pleased to report that at Friday's meeting a temporary solution was announced: Starting next Monday, June 21st, and until the reconstruction of Van Brunt Street (the dedicated truck route, which is currently under construction) is complete, Phoenix and the Teamsters have agreed to drive the empty delivery trucks on the BQE (entering at Hamilton Avenue, exiting at Atlantic Avenue). This will obviously add substantial time to their trips, but it will get them off the local streets.
Longer-term solution still needed: Phoenix and EDC only committed to the BQE route until the reconstruction of Van Brunt Street is complete -- which will reportedly take about another 6 months. At the meeting, we pushed for a permanent solution, and discussed a number of potential alternatives. EDC is going to take a look at options, and we will have another meeting this summer, to work toward a long-term answer to the problem.
As always, if you have questions or concerns about any of these issues, please feel free to contact my office at 718 499 1090. And I hope to see many of you at the Green Ports hearing on Thursday.