Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Exploring Our Coasts & Waterfronts: St. George, Staten Island

As part of the CMRC's Sustainable Coasts Program, we periodically explore the coastal communities that play a large role in the Harbor Estuary's socio-economic and ecological well-being. Today we look at the community of St. George on Staten Island and its rich maritime history and current revitalization. The area has long been a very active part of New York City's maritime culture and is most popular for the Staten Island Ferry, which moves passengers between St. George and downtown Manhattan. The region was heavily affected by the development of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in 1964 that shifted Staten Island's economy to the center of the island. However in recent years St. George has undergone a major revitalization with residents finding a very livable community (with a new baseball park) and easy access to downtown Manhattan. The article below from Newsday explores the community of St. George and its recent revitalization in more depth. JB

By Alan Krawitz
April 20, 2006

Located at the northeastern tip of Staten Island where the Kill Van Kull enters Upper New York Bay, St. George, also known as "Downtown Staten Island," has seen its share of ups and downs since the early 20th century.

Once dominated by 19th-century Victorian homes and mansions, the area now offers trendy housing options such as the upscale Bay Street Landing condo complex, newly constructed high-rises and Manhattan-style townhouses. Actor Paul Newman is said to have lived in the area during the mid-1960s.

Richmond Terrace in St. George is not only the administrative center of the borough but also a transportation and entertainment hub with its ferry/bus/railway terminal, the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the New York Yankees minor league ball club and the St. George Theatre.

The area, once considered part of the New Brighton neighborhood, reportedly was renamed after George Law, a local investor who was involved in the consolidation of ferry and rail service.
The neighborhood grew rapidly in the early 20th century as municipal ferry service to Manhattan commenced in 1905.

Downtown Staten Island experienced a downturn in 1964 following the construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that shifted development and commerce to the interior of the island.
Today, the consensus is that the area is in the midst of a resurgence fueled by a combination of rising property values due to new construction, redevelopment of the waterfront and an easy commute to Manhattan.


St. George Civic Association

Google Map of St. George

Wikipedia - St. George

Thursday, April 20, 2006

CMRC Participates in Planning and Redevelopment of Piers 7-12

The CMRC recently took part in a planning workshop to create a detailed vision for the redevelopment of Brooklyn Piers 7-12. Facilitated by the New York Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the event brought together many of the region's stakeholders to comment and brainstorm ideas for integrating a variety of uses on the waterfront. Historically the area has been an industrial area and many hope to retain that aspect of Red Hook's history while adding residential, commercial and open space opportunities to the landscape. Currently, the cruise terminals are occupying the spaces at the southern end of the Piers and the EDC is determining how to connect these uses with public access and community interaction. Below is an excerpt from the EDC website with presentations from the workshop. JB

Brooklyn Piers 7-12

NYCEDC is undertaking a planning and redevelopment initiative to help guide the future of Brooklyn Piers 7-12.

The guiding principles for redevelopment would include:
Sustaining and enhancing Red Hook's maritime identity;
Creating new economic development opportunities and jobs;
Providing waterfront access;
Improving transportation (on water and land); and
Strengthening connections between upland neighborhoods and the water's edge.

As we progress with this initiative, we will be posting additional information on this site. We look forward to your input.

Presentations and Public Documents:
Community Board 6 Presentation (April 3rd, 2006)

Community Board 6 Presentation (November 28th, 2005) (pdf)

Community Board 6 Waterfront Committee

Google Map of Brooklyn Piers 7-12

Monday, April 17, 2006

Multimedia: The New York City Waterfront

As our waterfront becomes more and more accessible, it is increasingly being exposed to the millions of residents in the New York metropolitan region. One group that has recently taken a strong interest in the Harbor Estuary is the artist community. Recently, many great photos and paintings have appeared in local magazines and art galleries, showing that conservation and public access influence a world beyond what lies in the immediate foreground of science and policy. The following article and multimedia piece by the NY Times explores the journey of two photographers as they explore our coast. JB

April 16, 2006
By Ben Gibberd

EVERY New Yorker knows that something's afoot. Bike paths and benches have sprouted along the Hudson like tender shoots. Formerly obscure waterfront neighborhoods such as Red Hook and Dumbo are spoken of with that peculiar ardor reserved for the perfect nexus of hipness and real estate value.
And everywhere, in every borough, there are plans to rezone and rebuild, to tear down and to preserve along the city's edges.

That strange and melancholy frontier where the human-made fizzles out and Nature begins (a state both longed for and innately distrusted by every New Yorker) is once again being rediscovered as a source of energy and life.

Into the scrum of preservationists, developers, maritime interests, politicians and ordinary New Yorkers, each fighting for a particular vision of the waterfront, come Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, a husband-and-wife photography team who have spent the past three years documenting the city's infinitely convoluted 578 miles of shoreline. The aim of their project, which has received funding from the Design Trust for Public Space and the New York State Council on the Arts, is not to take sides but simply to show what is there.


Friday, April 14, 2006

In the News: The Oceans Resurface

How to best balance scientific information with industry and community needs in the creation of effective coastal management policies is again at the forefront of decision-makers agenda in our Nation's Capital. Building on the momentum of the Pew Oceans Commission and US Commission on Ocean Policy, multiple bills in Congress are attempting to solve this challenging question. However, to date very little has actually been done at the Federal level and as a result many are calling for immediate action. Two new bills are looking to rework the current fisheries management law, known as the Magnuson - Steven Fishery Conservation Act, but both are still struggling with determining the correct balance of science and community-based information from industry and others for creating legislation that provides for both economic and environmental security writes the NY Times in the Editorial below. JB

Published: April 14, 2006

Despite extensive studies demonstrating the poor health of America's coastal waters as well as its major fisheries and offering blueprints for recovery, Congress has done nothing. Now, at last, the matter is getting some traction. This is good news. But the important thing is to get it right.

At issue is the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens fishery conservation act, the basic law governing federal fisheries policy. The act does not address many issues that need attention. But strengthening it would help fish populations in American coastal waters, which extend 200 miles off shore, and that is no small thing. Many of those populations for which there is reliable data — among them Alaskan pollock, Pacific rockfish, redfish in the Gulf of Mexico — are struggling. Some, like North Atlantic codfish, have essentially crashed.

A Senate committee has reported its version of the bill. It retains all of the good elements of the act, which requires the country's eight regional policy-making councils to identify declining fish stocks and create plans to rebuild them. But it largely ignores two excellent ideas for improving it that were advanced by the privately financed Pew Oceans Commission and the Congressionally chartered United States Commission on Ocean Policy.

One was to give scientists much greater influence in the regional councils, which are now dominated by industry representatives whose short-term interest lies in catching more fish than is healthy for the species' long-term survival. The other was to require the councils to set annual, enforceable catch limits. Partly because of opposition from Northeastern senators politically beholden to local fishing interests, the committee abandoned the idea of hard targets and gave the scientists no more than an advisory role.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In the News: A ray of sunshine in state's renewable energy picture

Located just a stone's throw west of Manhattan lies one of the largest natural ecosystems found in our region - the New Jersey Meadowlands. This great expanse of estuary habitat, once a major dumping ground for the City's trash and then home to large-scale development projects, is currently thriving as a result of increased protection and restoration efforts to conserve its many acres of marsh and adjacent uplands and the many species that inhabit the region. A new plan introduced recently by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission will build upon the great successes of the environmental community and attempt to create one of the largest renewable energy networks in the world by 2020. The plan calls for solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy to replace current modes of energy production, and offers potential economic and environmental benefits that will include improved air and water quality states the following article from the Star-Ledger. JB

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
BY Ana M. Alaya Star-Ledger Staff

Plans outline massive solar, wind and tidal network in the Meadowlands

Harnessing energy from the sun, wind and tides, the Meadowlands region could become home to one of the largest renewable energy networks in the world in the coming years, state officials said yesterday.

Plans unveiled yesterday call for a 5-megawatt solar energy system in the next few years, and a 20-megawatt system of alternative energy power by 2020 that could produce electricity for thousands of homes in the Bergen-Hudson county region, said officials of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.

The commission's board approved measures yesterday to seek private companies to build the energy systems. At the same time, the agency will try to attract cutting-edge technology companies to the region's obsolete warehouse districts.

"This project will provide enormous environmental and economic benefits for the Meadowlands District, as well as set a precedent for the state's commitment to renewable energy," said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner and NJMC Chair Susan Bass Levin. "The Meadowlands District has the infrastructure and recent history of regional cooperation needed to implement this renewable energy initiative."

A commission study done over the past several months concluded that the district can offer much of the 1.3 million square feet of space that a 5-megawatt system would need for silicon solar panels that turn the sun's energy into electricity.

Much of that space may already be available on NJMC properties, including roofs, parking lots, garages and cleaned landfills in the 32-square-mile region, officials said.

The NJMC also will create a Renewable Energy Task Force for the Meadowlands District that will be responsible for developing a master plan for the region over the next year. This renewable energy plan will develop a strategy for the creation of 20 megawatts of renewable energy in the region by 2020. The panel will examine solar, tidal, wind, geothermal and other sources of renewable energy.


Friday, April 07, 2006

In the News: Asbury Park in New Pact to Restart Development

Over the past year, the CMRC has worked extensively with the Surfrider Foundation and Ford Foundation in an effort to assist in the redevelopment of Asbury Park, NJ (see note below). The City of Asbury Park, once known as a playground for the wealthy, had fallen into challenging economic times in recent decades, but is now again reclaiming its place as a destination on the Jersey shore. However, past attempts to revitalize the city have been wrought with corruption and failed miserably leaving shells of former buildings as a constant reminder. The most recent wave of redevelopment, headed by Asbury Partners LLC., appears to be on its way to recreating the waterfront and downtown, but is being watched very closely by City officials as to not repeat previous failures. This recent NY Times article explores the most recent development efforts and how the local community is working with the development community to assure that the revitalization goes forward to completion this time. JB

Note: The CMRC has been working with the Surfrider Foundation and Ford Foundation to explore the impacts of coastal development on low-income communities and recently completed a report providing potential solutions that increase public access and sustainable job opportunities based on opportunities available at the shorefront. Stay tuned for updates on that effort at www.cmrc.org and here at the Blog.

April 7, 2006
By Ronald Smothers

ASBURY PARK, N.J. - Asbury Park's hopes of redevelopment have been frustrated by more than a decade of failed plans, bankrupt developers and corruption.

But the city's prospects took a step forward this week when it reached a new agreement with its development partner to speed the refurbishment of the city's sagging Convention Hall, dilapidated casino and Boardwalk pavilions, and to quickly resolve disputes that have bogged down progress in the past.

The agreement is a result of nearly six weeks of negotiations between city officials and Asbury Partners, its redeveloper, after council members and others grew impatient with the slow pace after the city turned over the Boardwalk buildings to the company in 2001.

Critics of Asbury Partners had threatened to press for the developer's ouster if there was no agreement on strict timetables to complete the work and assurances that the developer was financially able to do so. Under the contract, Asbury Partners is to oversee the redevelopment of the buildings and a 56-acre parcel of shorefront.

The developer has also agreed to put in escrow an amount equal to 25 percent of the estimated $6 million in work on the Boardwalk buildings, obtain performance bonds for each project and provide periodic financial statements detailing its net worth and any significant changes in its finances.

One of the key provisions of the new agreement, said Terence J. Reidy, the city manager of Asbury Park, was a dispute resolution process that involves an arbitrator with the power to settle disagreements and to dictate remedies. The goal is to resolve disputes within 60 days. Mr. Reidy said that the only recourse for the city in past disputes had been to find the redeveloper in default, a move that often led to court battles.


City of Asbury Park

Asbury Partners, LLC

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In the News: Plans for Pier Bogged Down in a Dispute With the City

As our waterfronts continue to undergo revitalization many businesses are beginning to take advantage of potential opportunities to provide a residents and tourists with a wide variety of water-based activities. However, in some cases the deterioration of piers, bulkheads, and pathways leads to challenges for both City officials and local business owners. One of the fastest growing industries on our waterfronts is the transportation and eco-tourism business. Several companies are currently offering "Harbor Tours" to those interested in seeing the NY metropolitan region in a different light. Unfortunately, in the case of the New York Waterway Tours, a dispute over the condition of Pier A in downtown Manhattan has led to uncertainty for the future of their water-based tourism business writes the NY Times. JB

April 6, 2006
By Patrick McGeehan

For nearly two decades, city officials have hoped to see Pier A, a historic landmark at the northern edge of Battery Park, revived as a tourist attraction on the downtown waterfront. But the latest attempt to make commercial use of the 120-year-old pier is bogging down in a dispute between the city and an ambitious ferry operator.

The operator, New York Waterway Tours, planned to start offering hourly harbor cruises from the pier next week. But the city's Economic Development Corporation has refused to grant permission to reopen the pier, which is leased to a company controlled by one of the owners of the tour-boat operator.

The man behind the plan for the harbor cruises is William B. Wachtel, a Manhattan lawyer with designs on reviving the city-owned Pier A as a transportation center. He hopes it will serve as a hub for commuters traveling to and from New Jersey as well as tourists to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

His efforts are being closely watched by competitors in the city's small but contentious ferry industry.

"Circle Line continues to support efforts to upgrade Pier A, and though we have seen activity of a sightseeing business, we are not aware that it has received approval from appropriate agencies," said J. B. Meyer, the president of Circle Line Harbor Cruises, another tour operator.
Mr. Wachtel controls Wings Point Associates, which is leasing the pier, and the BillyBey Ferry Company, which he created a year ago to bail out the struggling operator of the Waterway ferries. BillyBey owns half of the Waterway fleet and half of an excursion business, New York Waterway Tours.

Last week, workers for the tour company started gearing up to start hourly cruises of the harbor from the pier. A schedule for the cruises, beginning April 14, appeared on Waterway's Web site and a trailer that would serve as a ticket office appeared at the edge of Battery Park. Other boat operators reported seeing boats making test runs from the pier. A spokesman for the United States Coast Guard, Petty Officer Mike Lutz, said yesterday that the Coast Guard had granted a permit to Waterway for excursion cruises to operate from Pier A beginning around April 14.


NYC Economic Development Corporation

New York Waterway Tours

Monday, April 03, 2006

CMRC Business Stewardship Workshop Report Released

On February 16, 2005 the CMRC and its partners facilitated a half-day workshop in conjunction with our Business Stewardship Initiative, an effort which brings together the resources of local industry with conservation efforts, to discuss the opportunities and constraints of creating partnerships and implementing restoration projects in the NY - NJ Harbor Estuary. The workshop attracted over 30 participants from the conservation and business communities, each of whom contributed to the workshop's panel discussions and final "working session." A synopsis of the day's activities can now be found in the Workshop Report and PowerPoint Summary, with conclusions and next steps outlined in the Executive Summary (below). One of the major recommendations of the workshop was to create a Business Stewardship Speaker Series that showcases local businesses and their coastal conservation efforts in the region. Stay tuned for more on the Speaker Series and on the Business Stewardship Initiative as we go forward! JB

CMRC Business Stewardship Workshop Summary (PowerPoint)http://thecmrc.org/docs/BusinessStewardshipWorkshopSummary.ppt

CMRC Business Stewardship Workshop Report http://thecmrc.org/docs/BusinessStewardshipWorkshopReport.doc


On February 16, 2006 the Coastal Marine Resource Center of New York (CMRC) and its partners convened a Harbor Estuary Business Stewardship Workshop to identify focus areas and next steps for developing a Business Stewardship Program. The event was attended by thirty business and environmental leaders in the region and included a series of panel discussions that generated ideas and recommendations for developing a Businesses for the Harbor program.

Based on the findings of the workshop, the CMRC and its partners will be going forward with the following next steps towards the creation of a Businesses for the Harbor program:
  • Formation of a Business Stewardship Workgroup with six to eight members
  • Continued outreach to stewardship programs both within and outside the Harbor
  • Facilitate additional focus groups with business and conservation organizations
  • Development of Businesses for the Harbor program structure and goals by 2007

The Chesapeake Bay’s Businesses for the Bay (B4B) Program shared the successes of their voluntary stewardship program during the first session. In the past decade, B4B has signed up over 700 businesses as member organizations in an effort to improve pollution prevention in the Chesapeake. In addition, nearly 140 organizations have been established as mentors that provide technical knowledge to other businesses striving to reduce the environmental impacts of their activities. A major component of the B4B Program is a well-developed reward and recognition program that provides excellent visibility for member organizations.

Businesses showcased their stewardship experiences during the second panel session and presentations from NY Water Taxi, Patagonia, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Credit Suisse provided insight into how different sectors approach environmental and social issues. Highlighted were the ranges of opportunities for collaboration available for stewardship in the region. While some organizations leverage human resources to implement conservation projects, others conduct pollution prevention activities upstream to reduce their environmental impact.

During the Stewardship in the Harbor Estuary session representatives from the private, non-profit, and government communities discussed their conservation efforts locally. Presentations from the New York Shipping Association (NYSA), the Hudson River Foundation – Harbor Roundtable, and EPA Performance Track showcased a variety of techniques that have achieved success by bringing together knowledge, human resources, and conservation goals. NYSA, for example, assists the maritime industry in reducing their air and water quality impacts, while the Harbor Roundtable is developing a funding strategy for restoration projects within the estuary.

Finally, participants identified and refined focus areas for developing a Business Stewardship Program during the “working session.” Participants agreed that business stewardship is an important topic and provided a great range of ideas on sectors and stewardship focus areas to be considered during program development. The general consensus was that the program needs to: offer businesses guidance on how to best use their resources to benefit conservation efforts; and, provide a visible recognition program that rewards participants as “Stewards of the Estuary.”

CMRC Business Stewardship Workshop Summary (PowerPoint)

CMRC Business Stewardship Workshop Report