The Red Hook Civic Association met on January 31 at PS 15. Attendees included NCO Officers Damien Clarke and Jonathan Rueda, Red Hook West Tenant Association President Lillie Marshall, Karen Broughton representing Felix Ortiz, and Robert Berrios from Visitation Church.
A major topic discussed was the possible return of the B71 bus line.
Robert Berrios, Red Hook’s bus expert, was hopeful that the defunct B71 might be restored.
“I had a meeting last week with the operators out of Jackie Gleason,” Berrios said. “They are all for bringing back the B71 but they feel the route is too long (Grand Army Plaza to Manhattan). They would accept it if the bus was made limited. They will not have an issue with that.”
According to Berrios, many people who live in Red Hook work in downtown Manhattan, and could really use this long-promised bus service.
They are currently considering three possible routes for the new bus. Berrios was able to get the B57 extended down to IKEA, so he thinks this could become a reality.
The B71 bus is proposed to go to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
Recognizing local heroes
There is talk of two one-block sections of different streets being renamed after people who made important contributions to this community.
One street renaming would be a section of Wolcott Street, where Morris “Pickles” Johnson lived for a long time. Before living on Wolcott, he lived in the Red Hook Houses for many years.
McGettrick added that there is also talk of renaming a section of Van Brunt Street for the recently deceased Sue Amendola.
The annual PS 15 benefit is scheduled to be at Pioneer Works on March 29.
The event will begin at 6:00 or 6:30 pm. The last couple of years between 150 and 300 people have attended this benefit.
“We have been able to collectively have a good amount of money raised for a good cause,” McGettrick said about the PS 15 annual benefit.
UPS recently rented a lot of space on the west side of Red Hook. This includes the Snapple building.
McGettrick wants to make sure that local people will get jobs there. UPS has a union and their pay is fairly good. The negative side to this is extra truck traffic in the neighborhood.
The other warehouse development in Red Hook is one that came out of the blue. This warehouse is a 370,000 square foot facility for large commercial trucks that will be at 640 Columbia Street near IKEA.
“The volume of trucks going onto Lorraine would be devastating,” McGettrick said.
The massive THOR Equities site along the water next to Beard Street is a mess and development has stopped, leaving giant piles of dirt behind. State DEC finally came to do an investigation.
“THOR, as they have done in the past, would promise that they were going to do this or that, but they did nothing,” McGettrick said.
“They promised a removal of the sludge that came out of Erie Basin, much of it from hot spots where chemicals had been dumped into the water for generations,” McGettrick said.”
A lawyer at State DEC has been assigned to initiate a criminal complaint against THOR Equities as they have pollutants going throughout the area, according to someone at the meeting.
The obvious question of why THOR stopped development was brought up and McGettrick said that this is typical of what THOR has done in the past.
“Joe Sitt, who is the owner of Thor, has a history of promising great things on particular sites that they buy. They end up doing very little good, and then they flip it for a lot more than they purchased it for,” McGettrick said.
According to McGettrick, AECOM and Chris Ward want to transform Red Hook into something similar to Battery Park City. There is talk of building 61,000 apartments in Red Hook.
Ward, who was the executive director of the Port Authority, is suggesting getting rid of the Container Terminal, and according to the governor, there is potential for major development.
Someone else added that in AECOM’s report they stated that their vision is to have buildings in the place of where NYCHA currently is.
McGettrick said that AECOM wants to go after open spaces like where the community garden and parking lots are. McGettrick doesn’t think they will be coming to NYCHA.
Another issue that concerns this neighborhood is flood protection.
According to McGettrick, there is now an application with FEMA for consideration and there is the hope that it is approved. He has no idea what will happen if it isn’t approved because the money that has been allocated might be rescinded and go someplace else.
A flood protection issue that is not as extensive as it could be are the temporary flood barriers. They have discussed moving and broadening the flood barriers along the sidewalk that are on Beard Street.
“The question is why did they stop there,” McGettrick said. “Why can’t they continue going all the way along Beard Street and then around by the Cruise Ship Terminal? They said they had to do a drainage study but then they said the drainage study was delayed because of bad weather.”
According to McGettrick, it is a mystery that it is five years into the flood protection process and they have spent tens of millions of dollars and nothing has happened. McGettrick informed everyone that there will be a meeting on February 10, and he will learn more then.