Chris Ward: Redo Red Hook to Save Governors Island

Let's dig another tunnel!

With at least a few people clamoring for a Chris Ward mayoralty, the Port Authority executive director visited the Time Warner Center today and talked about something besides the World Trade Center–not only the focus of much of his work the past three years, but also his public speaking.

Instead, he proffered an ambitious, even absurd, proposal for the Brooklyn waterfront and Governor’s Island. The former he likened to Vietnam: “nobody ever seems to retreat with a clear victory,” he said during an address at Municipal Art Society’s Summit for New York City. Of the latter, he said “it is the last open question, in terms of land-use, in the city.”

To fix one, you must fix both, he suggested. In the bombastic style reminiscent of his infamous LaGuardia remarks, Mr. Ward called for the elimination of the Red Hook container terminal. “Red Hook is in the wrong location is Governors Island is to succeed,” he said.

Both could become a new cafe-hub, instead of a containerized one, another piece of BroBo-dom. (It is something the mayor has spoken longingly over before, referring to Red Hook on occasion as the new East Village.) It is an unusual proposition, considering Mr. Ward used to run American Stevedoring, which operates the Red Hook port. Perhaps it is his familiarity with the area that allows Mr. Ward to make such a radical, anti-industrial call.

Well, anti-industrial in a sense, because he thinks that the shipping capacity, though it will never be “the huge, supertanker shipping,” could move to Sunset Park, where it is insulated by Industry City. There it can hook-up with the project of every politician’s dream of the past century, a trans-harbor freight rail tunnel—ironically the very thing the combined Port Authority of New and New Jersey was founded to create yet never did.

“People think the Port loves trucks, because it brings us revenue,” Mr. Ward said. “Believe me, we have enough revenue, and the non-stop delivery trucks are killing our city.”

“We must get beyond out nostalgia for the Brooklyn waterfront for the future of this city,” Mr. Ward said. He calls for a more permeable waterfront, one of transportation and recreation. “Climate change is real, and it changing the way we live.”

It was no stump speech, but the audience sure loved it.

mchaban [at] | @MC_NYC Chris Ward: Redo Red Hook to Save Governors Island