Introduction to New York City Council and the waterfront

 4/25/12 Waterfronts Committee Meeting. Photo courtesy of www.JimmyVanBramer.com

4/25/12 Waterfronts Committee Meeting. Photo courtesy of www.JimmyVanBramer.com

On January 22, 2014, the City Council announced its committee and committee members.  This is PortSide NewYork’s guide to the City Council and the waterfront.

The Council has a committee dedicated to the waterfront; and, at times, waterfront matters may be taken up in hearings jointly run by committees such as Land Use,  Transportation or Sanitation and Solid Waste.  There is a new committee Recovery & Resiliency which will surely deal with waterfront matters.

The size of the committees says something about NYC priorities.  Waterfronts has only five members; Land Use has twenty-one members and three subcommittees. 

The Committee on Waterfronts consists of five members, headed by Deborah Rose. Her district includes this port’s vital stretch of working waterfront along Staten Island’s Richmond Terrace, including Mariners Harbor and the Howland Hook Marine Terminal.

The four other committee members are Chaim M. Deutsch representing the waterfront of Sheepshead Bay/Manhattan Beach/Brighton Beach, Daniel R. Garodnick representing the waterfront of Manhattan’s East Side, Corey Johnson representing the waterfront of Canal Street to West 59th Street Manhattan, and Paul Vallone representing the waterfront of North East Queens.  

According to their official Council biographies, Chaim Deutsch is the only one listing some waterfront experience which was hurricane Sandy.  He mobilized community-based volunteers and coordinated with the Flatbush Shomrim to help evacuate residents, he helped in actual evacuations; coordinating with government and aid organizations, and helped distribute aid.

The City Council has a Progressive Caucus of which the Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is a member.  The Progressive Caucus released a 13 point plan for change. We were pleased to see “Waterfront” listed in point # 3 "Smart Economic Development- Reduce inequality through smart and accountable economic development."  Click on that to find:

“Strengthen the city’s core blue-collar and middle-income sectors by focusing subsidies in diversified economic clusters. Invest in more balanced, innovative, mixed-use development to meet a broader range of goals developed with community stakeholders, such as preserving and strengthening manufacturing and small businesses, creative use of waterfronts, and the community infrastructure needed to sustain growth and share its benefits (e.g. schools, child care, open space, etc.)”

Their "creative use of waterfronts"  certainly describes PortSide NewYork!  We hope this means that the Progressive Caucus will embrace the PortSide cause and help us speedily find a home, and we hope that we can work with the Progressive Caucus and the Waterfronts committee and share our waterfront expertise and further our goal of bringing NYC's Sixth Borough BlueSpace to life!

Gotham Gazette's article on City Council committee appointments includes links at the bottom with summaries of the major activities of each committee last session, predictions about its upcoming role, and stipends paid to the councilmembers.

The first "hearing" of the Waterfronts committee is a tour of Brooklyn Bridge Park Friday, 2/28/14 at 10am.  These meetings are open to the public.