2016 year in photos at PortSide NewYork!Read More
PortSide blogs about our WaterStories programs, urban waterways issues, the BLUEspace, development plans for the NYC waterfront, our ship MARY A. WHALEN and other historic vessels, boats and ships of all sizes.
Great to see weathered teak woodwork go from grey to gold! Great to see youth learn to do it! Read how Christopher, Christie, Cesar, Devere and Jose describe their summer, in their own words.Read More
Public comments due to USCG on 1/3/17
Proposed: more boat access around Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Boating safety sited as reason for change
11/14/16. This just in from the Harbor Ops Committee:
"Please be advised that USCG Sector New York has published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking which pertains to a potential change to the security zone around Liberty State Park and Ellis Island.
The proposed change would enhance Harbor Safety by allowing smaller vessels to pass behind the Statue of Liberty and avoid being forced to travel in the more heavily used and current-impacted open channel.
MAPONY/NJ SUPPORTS this change and will file written comments in support thereof.
We urge you to review this ANPRM and file comments.
The corrected ANPRM can be accessed via the following link:
New York Harbor - security zone proposal
The US Coast Guard issued a technical correction to its advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) of 3 November. The proposal related to potential changes to the security zone around Liberty State Park and Ellis Island. In the notice, the summary erroneously stated that removal of the security zone was being considered, while the proposal itself discussed only the possibility of modifying the zone.
81 Fed. Reg. 78759 (11/9/16) [https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-11-09/pdf/2016-27037.pdf].
PortSide opened the MARY A. WHALEN for Sunday of OHNY Weekend. Our ship MARY worked her magic, and so did our ship cat Chiclet who was a magnet in her own right. Our "Salty Selfies" photo station provided great souvenir moments. We believe in having fun while learning maritime history! If you missed this, come enjoy the main deck for #TankerTime!Read More
"Red Hook WaterStories” (RHWS) Project Moves Forward
Team grows and makes substantial headway!
What is Red Hook WaterStories
A water-themed history trail about and for fascinating Red Hook, Brooklyn. It will educate visitors and locals, help revitalize Red Hook and help protect this community from floods. It tells NYC's maritime story in microcosm. This year, we are launching a pilot multimedia map and creating a hard copy visitor guide and signs with QR codes around the neighborhood that alert people to the website. We will create large, outdoor, exhibit panels with this content. We are taping more oral histories to share.
PortSide offices aboard the ship MARY A. WHALEN are a buzz as we push ahead with Red Hook WaterStories. Many new consultants and interns have come aboard to help develop and catalog content. The accessibility of our new home is allowing people with valuable skills, but no prior relationship to PortSide, to literally step (or ride their bicycle like David Levine) up to the pier and get involved.
We thank Councilman Carlos Menchaca both for seeing the importance of our new home and for the $20,000 in funding that is pushing the project forward. We have applied for other funding, and have launched a campaign to raise another $20,000 by then end of June 2016.
New people, new energy!
Our Curator and Historian Peter Rothenberg has been joined by a team of consultants, advisors and interns. Some are interviewing, some research archives, some are deep in the html end of the archive. Bios of the team on the Red Hook WaterStories webpage.
We have been collecting new content and looking backward, meaning we sought technology and advice on how to get our archive coded and organized. David Levine has 25 years experience in content management at major corporations and is leading the tech end of the project, selecting the software for content management and website creation. Lots of conversations between him, Peter and new advisors Johnathan Thayer and Marilyn Oliva helped selected us Omeka as the archivist software to use. The first version of the multimedia RHWS website may be Omeka itself. Much to learn and code in all this!
Johnathan Thayer teaches archival practice and preservation at Queens College and is the Senior Archivist at Seaman’s Church Institute, founded in 1834 which has thousands of items and oral histories in its collection. Despite all that content, they have nothing about Red Hook in their files – proof that PortSide’s project has something to contribute.
Regina Carra, a graduate student at CUNY Queens College studying Library Science and History, learned about RHWS from Johnathan and was so excited by the project that she rejiggered her schedule to work with us one day a week.
We have had long meetings and brainstorming sessions around the galley table to discuss what themes, issues and peoples to include so we know to look for such content and have the archive coded in advance to be ready to receive that kind of content. “War” and “”military,” how are they the same or different? With our focus on immigrants who arrived by water or worked on the waterfront, what do we do about the “non-ethnics,” the English or WASPS? How do we deal with false history (the errors so often repeated in the era of Google)?
Do we include a layer that explains sources so people can see that many a map or engraving that has been used to show “this was Red Hook” is an illustration of a plan, an intention, and did not yet exist? That kind of discussion is so pertinent to the resiliency (flood prep) aspect to Red Hook WaterStories.
As a water-aware organization, we planned to talk about underground water issues since we started this work in 2005. After superstorm Sandy, information about the historic filling of creeks, swamp and shoreline is very timely. It's key to understand that so many historic maps of Red Hook show a street grid of intentions over “land” that remained water and swamp into the 1900s. On a lighter note, in honor of our ship cat Chiclet and her devoted followers, we decided to add cat WaterStories. History needs to be fun too!
We have a bottomless font of facts and tips about the history in advisor Norman Brouwer, a noted maritime historian and the person who built the South Street Seaport library. He also has a personal collection of thousands of maritime postcards which we hope to access for illustrations.
Julia Golia, Director of Public History at the Brooklyn Historical Society, told us about resources in their archives and was receptive to partnering as they move ahead with their waterfront museum and waterfront history website in partnership with Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Melinda Boros, an immigrant from Romania, brings us a fresh perspective in her role as consultant. Red Hook was one of the first neighborhoods she found after emigrating in 1998. It's abandonment was something she expected in Ceaucescu’s Romania not the USA, so she dove deep into historical research to come to understand it. Barbara Wye, a recent grad in Anthropology and Digital Media Design with experience in community organizing around preservation, is helping with outreach, event planning and graphic design.
Many Red Hook WaterStories involve Spanish speakers, especially since the first point of arrival for Puerto Ricans in NYC was ships docking at Red Hook piers. Intern Ivy Ann Rosado, a senior at Hunter College of Dominican heritage is helping with this research and other aspects of the project.
We are interviewing more people for more video and oral histories. Jenny Kane leads the oral history work. John Weaver handles the video camera. Our President Carolina Salguero, an award-winning photojournalist in her prior career, does some of the interviewing.
If you, or someone you know has some Red Hook WaterStories to share, get in touch! WaterStories include: all things working waterfront (shipbuilding/repair, ports/freight movement, creation of ports/changing shoreline, merchant marine/worked on boats, ferries), emigrated here by ship, worked at waterfront facilities, played/fished/relaxed on the waterfront, waterfront religious rituals, drownings, Sandy experiences, created an art work or piece of literature inspired by the Red Hook waterfront.
This project is supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and funding from NYC Councilman Carlos Menchaca.
PortSide NewYork is preparing to have the historic ship MARY A. WHALEN be publicly accessible by summer. She and we will then be accessible for several years in a row, a real breakthrough after 10 years of operating as a pop-up in continual negotiations for short term permits. We hope you are as excited by this news as we are!
We could use some help getting ready, especially because the lingering winter weather delayed painting interior spaces on the ship before we moved our offices back aboard on April 30th.
Come enjoy spring weather on the waterfront and lend a hand. It's fun here! Join us!
Ways you can help:
Sanding and painting!
Finish painting the Captain's cabin. Sand and paint the Assistant Engineer's cabin below (currently the office of our President Carolina Salguero). Sand and paint the Tankermen's and Chief Engineer's cabin.
Like to pack and schlepp?
We need to move stuff around on the boat and move stuff off the boat. Things in the Tankermen's cabin go up to Captain's cabin once painting there is finished (it's almost done.) Contents of Chief Engineer's cabin are being taken off the boat to make space. Some stuff (some small, some heavy) goes into storage in the cargo tanks (that all involves fun with rigging). Btw, did you know that schlepp comes from the German word for tugboat?
Enjoy the Upacking and Tidying arts?
Can you organize stuff? Like to clean?
Things have been piling up in main office space (two joined cabins) since the end-of-year Rigging Olympics and especially since we moved out of our shoreside office yesterday. We need to pack up and archjve some things until we can install better storage and desk system.
Good at designing small spaces?
We seek a new office layout with custom desk surfaces and new storage units for our main shipboard office space below (two cabins joined by the previous owners). We have outgrown our current agglomeration of vintage steel desks and storage units. We have up to four people working in here at a time and much to store. Design needs to take into account that the ship moves.
We need to cut planks to put down a floor in another cargo tank to use it as a storage area. We need to install temporary plywood floors in two cabins used as office spaces.
Welding needed to finish sealing up the new hatch over cargo tank P2 which was cut late last year so we could store our large collection of vintage maritime artifacts down below. We have some other small welding repairs on hinges on steel doors etc. We are willing to pay for this work.
Revel in communication?
We could use some help with outreach to volunteers and event partners. This work requires a regular commitment of time over two months.
To get involved, call 917-414-0565 or email portsidenewyork(a)gmail.com. More about volunteering here.
Volunteers Needed for Weekend 2
Saturday 11/15/14 9am-5pm
Sunday 11/16/14 9am-5pm
Pier 9B, Red Hook Container Terminal, Brooklyn, 11231
Thursday and Friday, depending on crew availability
Free pizza in return!
Lunch and pizza at end of day is on us. We can eat in the galley by the vintage stove or head to a local pizzeria; the work crew will vote to decide.
Location, RSVP info
Enter port gate at Hamilton Avenue, Summit and Van Brunt Streets
Photo needed to enter. TWIC card holders especially appreciated!
RSVP by emailing email@example.com or calling 917-414-0565. If your tug is standing by and you're bored, you are welcome to tie up alongside and pitch in!
Progress so far
An INCREDIBLE amount of work has been done by POWERHOUSE volunteers, many of them who have taken time away from their own ship projects (be they not-for-profit or for profit vessels). There was great spirit and good humor while tons of steel were moved. Many thanks to you all!
Work done on Friday 11/7/14
Stevedore boss Sal came down the pier with other stevedores from the Pier 9B gang and hung another tire fender for us. Then, zip, zip, zip, with two forklifts they took all the stuff out of the shed that we thought we could move over the weekend. Thanks, guys!
Work done on Saturday 11/8/14
Saturday 11/8/14, we had a very experienced work crew: Matt Perricone, Paul Strubeck, Amy Bucciferro, Christine Van Lenten, Mike Abegg, David Sharps, Peter Rothenberg and me, Carolina Salguero. Shipcat Chiclet loves projects like this and kept a close eye on all human endeavors. She is no dumb bunny, so she stays away from anything raised on boom or hoist and prefers to watch rigging from the pier. Activities in the shed, such as crate inspection and lumber moving, attracted her focused attention.
What we were moving and saving with this big project is artifacts from several significant Red Hook maritime businesses which closed in 2005, marking the end of an era: Todd Shipyard, Cowhey Brothers, and RMC Canvas and Rope, along with some odds and ends from here and there.
The artifacts include an array of marine hardware that will be used to explain rigging (over a span of decades) via a collection of diverse blocks, shackles, and turnbuckles. There are parts from WWII Liberty Ships, rope fenders; foundry molds, crates and crane plaques from the bridge cranes at Todd; a scale and line measuring device from Cowhey's, and more. Also, being moved are our event supplies (outdoor tables and chairs, signs, and sundry whatevers we use now and again such as Frank Hanavan's great costume version of the schooner PIONEER.)
Some large items of great importance to us include replacement parts of the engine on the MARY A. WHALEN, visible in the photo at right.
The marine business is so competitive that when the MARY A. WHALEN went out of service in 1994 due to a scored crankshaft, Eklof took the pistons, heads and rods out of the engine so that her buyers, Hughes Marine and Reinauer Transportation, dba Erie Basin Associates, could not repair the tanker and put her in competitive service. Just in case, Ekloff made them sign a covenant saying "we will not use the MARY A. WHALEN for fuel delivery service." She became their floating office, and a floating dock.
In 2008, PortSide NewYork bought spare engine parts from another Bushey tanker that had made its way to Seattle and was being scrapped there. Those parts were, unfortunately, in the shed when hurricane Sandy hit and now need some restoration work.
On Sunday, we were heartened when Nobby Peers, an engineer specializing in restoration work, told us the pistons looked really great! A few weeks after Sandy, we had pulled all the engine parts apart, and wiped everything down very liberally with WD40, four gallons of it!
The early birds, David Sharps, Christine Van Lenten and I moved things out of the forward engine room.
Paul Strubeck and Mike Abegg led the rigging and decided to not lift things aboard via whole pallet loads. Instead, they swung stuff over in smaller units, and got the big items out of the shed with a pallet jack. Peter Rothenberg preferred the hand truck. Amy Bucciferro assisted in moving things on the pier and on deck.
Matt Perricone's Saturday job was cutting the segment out of the deck (which will be converted into a hatch) so that we could load into one of the cargo tanks, which kept him busy a good part of the day. All tanks were vented and inspected before the job!
We threw a diverse set of tools at the job: chain falls, the ship boom, dollies, a hand truck, a pallet jack, an engine hoist, muscle and ingenuity and quite a few jokes.
By end of day, we had the overwhelming majority of things on deck, including the big items, the replacement heads and pistons for the engine in the MARY A. WHALEN.
Work done on Sunday 11/9/14
Sunday, we had another extraordinary crew with Nobby Peers, Dan Goncharoff, David Sharps putting in a second day, Frank Hanavan, Jenny Kane who called her rigger friend Pete Betulia who joined us in the afternoon, Peter Rothenberg, and me, Carolina Salguero. Walter Dufresne and Mike Weiss were willing but the flu felled Walter and an truck break down kept Mike away.
Dan Goncharoff and Peter Rothenberg started out in the shed, trying to get the ends of the con rods and the bearings unbolted from the crankshaft in the lower engine block that was bought as a way to get another crank shaft (which sadly turned out to be damaged too). The nuts were seized, so Peter and Dan joined the work crew outside.
Frank Hanavan, David Sharps and Jenny Kane, and later joined by Peter Rothenberg, took on the task of laying down a plank floor inside the cargo tank. They developed their own intense cargo tank work crew. David and Peter where in the tank for a long while, and then David and Jenny became the chop saw team, with Frank the rigger running block and tackle and lowering things down most of the time.
The cargo tanks are really impressive spaces.
Nobby worked mostly alone for hours, with an occasional hand by me, until Jenny's friend Pete arrived. Nobby's mission was to get the heads and pistons into the engine room. He drilled a few holes in overhead flat bar beams in the entry companionway and in the fidley to hang two chainfalls and a come-along, and then hopscotched the heads in and down onto the engine one by one. The heads (from a 1951 engine) are slightly different from the original ones that would have been on the MARY, a 1938 engine.
Once Nobby was joined by Pete Betulia, the pace on the cylinder moving picked up; and sometime after dark, they started moving pistons in. Three of those made it to the engine room where Peter Rothenberg strapped them down on top of chocks he had cut at our on-deck chopsaw station. The last workers left around 10pm.
And then, just as I prayed would happen a few days ago, a tugboat friend arrived and tied up alongside, and I was able to get a hot shower. The plumbing on the MARY A. WHALEN is not yet restored.
Last Veteran's Day, we covered the subject of a class of largely-forgotten maritime veterans, the women, children, elderly and disabled mariners who served during WWII.
Below, we provide an update on the cause to finally get recognition for all of them, thanks to info provided by Don Horton who first brought this story, and cause, to our attention. Don Horton was one of those child mariners, serving on a barge with his mother, father and siblings.
Our post from Veteran's Day 2013
Our 9/15/14 interview with Don Horton during his visit to Red Hook, Brooklyn where we took him to various sites that were strongly stamped in his memory.
What you can do for this cause
You can write /call your respective US Senator and ask that they co-sponsor Senate Amendment Sa-3548. This is the amendment that can provide the avenue to allow for alternative methods of recognition for WW II coastwise mariners. It is a copy of S-1361, WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act. Background and Alternative Methods of Recognition, July 2014
The following info is from Don Horton
The bills before Congress
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate offered bills in in support of these veterans, HR 1288 and S-1361, WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act. HR 1288 was amended in to HR 4435, 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and this bill cleared the House with the amendment intact and is awaiting Senate action for comparison with the Senate NDAA S 2410.
S -1361 was introduced by Senator Chris Murphy, D-CT back in March, 2014.
In May of 2014, Chairman Senator Levin and Ranking Member Senator Inhofe of the the Senate Committee on Armed Forces selected a large block of amendments for possible inclusion in what is commonly referred to as a Manager’s package. This package includes certain Bills and amendments that are generally favored by specific groups or members of the Senate. S 1361 was not included within that group.
Shortly afterward in July, Senator Murphy introduced Senate Amendment Sa-3548. but after the offering of the ”Managers Package”.
We are awaiting the Senatorial debate on the floor to see if they will consider any more amendments or not. With this late bit of information, we immediately set about to reach out to all cosponsors of S 1361 (5) and request they come aboard Sa-3548 as cosponsors. Next we asked each member of the Senate Committee of Armed Forces to become Cosponsors and finally we are asking the remainder of the Senate to become cosponsors to Senator Murphy’s Amendment.
It is our hope to obtain sufficient co-sponsors to bring attention to the exhaustive efforts to have these mariners be given their promised recognition, by court order and many congressional speeches, proclaiming full and unequivocal support for our veterans.
I received an email from the Fleet Reserves that states the Senate version S 2410 of the NDAA may be brought to the floor and may allow debate and issuance of additional amendments. This is a departure from past Senate actions and good news for us. Congress is scheduled for convening on 12 November. I attempted to have this confirmed by Senate contacts but was unable. They neither confirmed nor denied.
How many mariners are we talking about?
No one knows either how many served or how many were lost. GAO asked the Coast Guard to identify how many served during WW II and they could only tell them how many credentials were issued during 1939 to 1946, about 840,000, but stated they had no idea how many served in enemy contested waters. Historians settled on about 250,000 serving who may be entitled to veteran recognition. To date about 91,000 have been recognized as veterans.
No one can state how many were lost and presumed dead. Numbers range from around 5200 to about 9500. We have documentation that demonstrates that New York lost about 1300 of the numbers of 5200. That is an eye opening figure for anyone to digest. I have provided names of those from New York who were lost and the very few who have been recognized as veterans.
Dear Mariners (ones on contemporary ships and historic ones) as we build up to the 2-year anniversary of hurricane Sandy, we invite you to tell you Sandy stories and share your photos here. We ask you to join us in an educational project.
A goal of PortSide NewYork is to bring the community ashore and community ashore closer together. Sharing Sandy stories is one important way to do that. We have found that most people ashore in NYC don’t know the mariners’ Sandy story, from prevention, to riding out the storm, to damages incurred, to recovery work -- usually recovery work while being damaged from Sandy.
In the way that PortSide told the mariners’ response to 9/11 in an exhibit, we would like to do that with Sandy, and we’d like to start that project here.
We believe that resiliency planning in NYC should involve hearing from the people who build the bulkheads and piers (and who will build any of the sea walls being proposed), marine salvors and equipment suppliers who pump the flooded tunnels, the crew and companies who move the fuel everyone was so desperate to have after Sandy, who clear the channels of debris so imports could arrive by ship, who build and run the emergency ferries, and companies that use boats like dinner boats in emergency response ways, etc.
We also believe mariners can have an important role in preparing communities for floods by helping teach awareness of marine weather, by bringing coastal living skills to New Yorkers living at the water's edge who lack those skills.
There are coastal parts of NYC where communities retain what were traditional coastal skills in abundance, the Rockaways, City Island, parts of Staten Island, where bayman, watermen, boatmen (and women) live, work and play; but large parts of NYC’s waterfront are now populated by people who have little sense of the water along which they live.
PortSide has designed some programs to share knowledge of the water with such people, and we’d like to see if we could kick off that conversation here.
What echoes in our ears is what we heard so often in the Sandy aid center we ran in Red Hook when people explained why they did not prep for Sandy either by evacuating or executing protective measures “they warned us about Irene, and nothing happened.”
This request is also on our two Facebook pages (Mary A. Whalen and PortSide NewYork) for people who would rather share there.
At the two-year anniversary of hurricane Sandy, PortSide NewYork is telling our Sandy story, a story largely hidden, like so many in Red Hook. We believe our story offers hope and guidance for the future. That’s because our maritime perspective explains how we knew to prepare for Sandy, made us available to help Red Hook’s Sandy recovery, and is a knowledge base we want to share to make you safer from floods in the future.
PortSide NewYork was founded to help change awareness and use of NYC’s BLUEspace, the water part of the waterfront. New York City’s area is one third water, and contains 29 islands. PortSide’s goal is to create a place that will showcase what NYC’s waterfront can really be. Our ship, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN, is an ambassador in that goal and our endeavor to bring the community ashore and the community afloat, the maritime community, closer together. Here’s our Sandy story:
Sandy prevention: Saving a historic ship
Thursday, 10/25/12, 1pm, Sandy minus 4.5 days, PortSide’s crew said good-bye to a class trip of first graders visiting the MARY A. WHALEN and started hurricane prep, punching our way thru the list of what we did for Irene the year before.
During the next four and a half days, we traded strategies with historic ships and modern workboats around the harbor. We all laid in food, water and fuel; tested generators; and moved our boats to safer places. PortSide curator Peter Rothenberg, shipcat Chiclet and Director Carolina Salguero are storm crew on the MARY A. WHALEN.
The maritime community obsessively followed marine weather reports. “Grim installments are burned in my memory,” said Carolina Salguero. “At Sandy minus 1.5 days, we learned an 8-foot surge is coming. At Sandy minus a few hours, I am readying for a 12 foot surge.”
Ashore in Red Hook, things were different. Sunday night, Sandy minus 24 hours, an email blast went out telling Red Hook which bars will be open and what movies are being screened. Carolina worried, “Is the community ashore prepping for Sandy? Has anyone evacuated?” PortSide’s maritime world felt separated from neighbors ashore by more than the containerport fence.
Peter Rothenberg was valiant. “When Carolina got word that the storm surge was expected to be 12 or 13 feet high, I had visions of the MARY tipping over onto the pier and emphatically agreed with the idea of securing a preventer line to the next pier 265 feet away.”
Due to preparations, our ship MARY WHALEN safely rode out the surge with our office aboard, enabling every form of Sandy assistance we delivered to Red Hook afterwards.
Peter and Carolina came ashore on Wednesday afternoon to discover a devastated Red Hook, and immediately decided that PortSide’s urgent search for a publicly-accessible homeport was flooded to a standstill and that we would help Red Hook until waterfront sites recovered enough for us to resume real estate talks.
Appreciation from Red Hook
Adam Armstrong, Pioneer Street resident and writer of the blog “View from the Hook” describes what happened next, “PortSide came ashore, quickly set up shop at 351 Van Brunt Street and proceeded to make a base - a visible and accessible storefront - from where they could reach out, provide information, resources and assistance to their land lubbing neighbors, most of us who were desperately trying to recover from the immense damage that had been done to our homes and our unique, waterfront neighborhood. Carolina Salguero and her team of volunteers co-ordinated clean-out crews and tradesmen to go and physically assist our residents, and they gathered and disseminated information about anything they though would be helpful - FEMA, legal assistance, insurance matters, Con Edison, National Grid, the Rapid Repairs program, etc., and provided a connection to our representatives in government. On many of these matters, PortSide organized meetings and reached out to our residents, and in the case of our street - Pioneer Street – Carolina co-ordinated the creation of a comprehensive contact list so that everyone on our block could share information and provide support to each other. It was - and still is - a wonderful way for the residents of Pioneer Street to keep in touch and get updates on our street's recovery.”
What made that work possible was the selflessness of three people PortSide is honoring at our fundraiser on Tuesday, October 28 at Hometown. Victoria Hagman donated Realty Collective’s storefront and utilities at 351 Van Brunt, despite suffering extensive flood damage herself. Park Slope electrician Danny Schneider walked into 351 and offered free labor. PortSide coordinated his work, and Danny reports that he inspected and certified 60 buildings and repaired some two dozen for just the cost of parts.
Our third honoree, our Curator Peter Rothenberg worked both ends of PortSide’s recovery story, the prevention that saved the MARY WHALEN and the aid work after the storm of setting up and running 351.
Peter, Carolina and Dan Goncharoff of PortSide ran 351 for a month and then continued a virtual aid station and other recovery efforts out of view. In April 2013, PortSide won a White House award for Sandy recovery work, and in July, the New York State Senate honored our work.
PortSide work transitions from recovery to resiliency
Carolina began attending resiliency conferences. Summer 2013, she was asked to become a member of Red Hook’s NY Rising committee to create local resiliency plans. PortSide staff and interns did research supporting the committee (which includes bone, two, three, and four and several pages on our website) during the committee's eight months of work.
One of Carolina’s NY Rising goals was to inject maritime issues into the discussion, hoping the State NY Rising process could influence a state agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), so waterfront infrastructure in NYC can be more repaired and built for both resiliency and everyday operations. Carolina also proposed the solar-powered emergency lights for NYCHA housing which are in Red Hook’s plan and are being considered for other NYCHA developments. “I think the NY Rising committee work is good. Red Hook distinguished itself for what we put in our plan,” says Carolina; but plans are hidden assets for most people until they are built.
Looking back on PortSide’s two years of Sandy-related work, for the sake of Red Hook’s planning better for the future, we would like to talk about some hidden Sandy stories of need and success we found in the course of our recovery and resiliency work.
Hidden Sandy stories of need and success
PortSide’s recovery work helped many people who don’t get media coverage and whose cases deserve more attention: People without an advocacy group, without on-line fundraising. People who aren’t comfortable using computers and needed Peter’s help to complete digital forms. People in mixed-use buildings that don’t fit FEMA homeowner funding guidelines. Renters who are not in NYCHA, and so are not in the media and political spotlights. Seniors, immigrants. People whose divorce, estate and tax situations complicated filing for aid and kept them from speaking up in public meetings. People who are private about their needs in general.
We learned that some affordable flood prevention was possible: The owners of Metal & Thread used a few hundred dollars of hardware store supplies to keep water from coming into their storefront and through the sidewalk hatch -- though their cellar suffered water leaking through the foundation from the empty lot next door. Some tugboat crews saved their cars by moving them from Erie Basin to the second floor garage at Home Depot, above surge level.
IKEA’s contribution needs more attention. IKEA gave and gave and got no media coverage until the Sandy’s one year anniversary when their $250,000 investment in solar powering the Rec Center netted some articles.
The power of connecting the community ashore and community afloat
Inland Red Hook is so disconnected from maritime Red Hook that the latter’s role in recovery is not discussed. For example, Jim Tampakis’ business Marine Spares was significant in pumping out the Brooklyn Battery/Hugh L. Carey tunnel. Vane Brothers provided hoses to the Hess fuel terminal at the foot of Court Street so home heating oil could be delivered. Both firms did that despite flood damage to their offices and mechanical shops.
PortSide feels the gap between inland resident and mariner is acute when we heard residents say “They told us to evacuate for Irene but nothing happened” and “I didn’t know there were two high tides a day.” We conclude that people ashore poorly understand marine weather reports and don’t know where to get them.
In comparison, mariners understand how to live with water, and how to prepare for hurricanes. They do the post-flood work of pumping tunnels, building ferry terminals and running emergency ferries, fixing bulkheads, clearing the harbor of debris so ships can import products as diverse as fuel, orange juice, new cars, bananas.
To bring maritime voices to people ashore, PortSide plans programs to help folks develop coastal living and flood prep skills, such as educational events with actual mariners, exhibits, and creating a children’s book with our shipcat Chiclet as a resiliency narrator talking about riding out Sandy on the tanker.
Andrea Sansom, who founded the Red Hook flood mitigation Google group, sees the need, “We all love living at the water, and PortSide is here to help bring understanding to living with the water.”
Our ship is a great tool for this. Our tanker MARY A. WHALEN is now a maritime symbol of resiliency, in contrast to the tanker JOHN B. CADDELL, Staten Island’s symbol of Sandy, which went aground and had to be scrapped.
PortSide’s own Sandy damages
A hidden Sandy story PortSide feels acutely is that of our own Sandy damages. An electrical short left us facing thirty-five nights of relying on flashlights and one 15-amp extension cord attached to a little gas generator. Sandy damaged the Sheepshead Bay house of our staffer John Weaver keeping him home for many months. Everything PortSide had off the ship (antique crane, 60’ dock, electrical transformer, restoration engine parts, historic artifacts and documents, special event equipment and furniture) was flood-damaged or floated away. Our FEMA worksheet totals some $340,000, and we are still deep in that paper chase, starting six months late because we were misinformed that we don’t qualify.
A massive Sandy effect on PortSide was the stalling of our urgent search for a homeport. We need a place to fulfill our mission, earn revenue, and run programs. Resumption of real estate negotiations took many, many more months than we expected, and remains a major strain on PortSide.
PortSide is now focused on the future while celebrating the good in recovery. Come join us in that spirit at our fundraiser on Tuesday, October 28 at Hometown Bar-B-Que. Join us in honoring our partners in Red Hook’s Sandy recovery: Victoria Hagman of Realty Collective, Danny Schneider the electrician, and Peter Rothenberg. Wear festive MARY WHALEN red and white. We look forward to talking with you there and, going forward, continuing the work we’ve collectively begun after Sandy in understanding our waterfront in all its complexity and potential!
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.
- City Council Committee on Waterfronts webpage
- Committee on Waterfronts Minutes and Agendas Archive
- Waterfronts member bios collected from their official webpages
- All City Council committees with member names
- City Council committees ranked by size
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.
Request to Veterans affairs Committees of Senate and House regarding bills HR 2189 & S 1361
Women, children and disabled WWII merchant mariners
Friday, 10/18/13, out of the blue, PortSide received an email from Don Horton looking for help acknowledging the work of women, children, and elderly handicapped seamen who he says served on tugs and barges along the coast under threat of attacks by German U-boats. Don Horton, a retired Director of Occupational Safety & Health for the Department of Defense, is seeking urgent support for two bills before the US Congress which would recognize the service of these mariners. Recognition honors recipients and gives them the status of US veteran with benefits limited to medals and burial benefits.
The Senate is likely to vote on October 30th, and the House could vote at any time.
[see 10/29 and 10/30 updates about Congressional votes and 11/2/13 MoveOn.org petition at bottom]
He seeks letters of support to the congressmen
on the Veterans Affairs Committees. Horton says the seamen, whose records were destroyed by government order, are another category seeking recognition. Able-bodied, adult, male seamen were recognized in 1988. The Senate is likely to vote on October 30th, and the House could vote
at any time. The extraordinary story of these mariners also shines a
light on the waterfront history of Red Hook, of Brooklyn and of the port
of New York as a whole.
Horton was one of those children who served on tugs and barges along the coast under threat of attacks by German U-boats. Don Horton is originally from Pennsylvania and now lives in North Carolina. He began working on a coastwise barge as a ten-year-old alongside his family in 1942; and his mother was one of those women.
Read Don Horton's vivid WWII memories of anchoring off
Red Hook, Brooklyn and rowing into Erie Basin to shop on Van Brunt
Dear Fellow Mariners,
Once again I am reaching out to my fellow seafarers in hopes of finding some who may be interested in helping us find those few remaining mariners from WW II. Many of those mariners were women, some were schoolchildren that stood up for this country and also helped to lay the foundation for women seafarers around the world.
We now have a bill in both sides of congress. It has taken over 5 years and three sessions of congress and this may be our last chance to bring recognition to these few remaining mariners. The setup is rather complicated and far from me to truly understand.
If you recall we started out with a stand alone bill HR 1288 but during the process it was incorporated into another one 2086 headed up by Tina Titus of NV. Within a week it was incorporated into still another HR 2189 that deals with problems within the VA. This bill is headed up by Jeff Miller of FL who also is the Chair of the House Vets Committee and has cleared the subcommittee and is at the floor level waiting hearings. S-1361 is heading for hearing in the Committee late this month. Both bills have few cosponsors and I have no idea if that is good or not. I had 94 cosponsors on HR 1288 and was incorporated into 2086 that had only 12 and then into 2189 with only 4. I have added 4 more to 2189 but have hit a snag. Seems that most of our leaders in congress may say they reach out across party lines but when it get down to doing it the lines grow silent.
In any case we are farther along than ever before but need some help. As I recall in my email of last year I indicated we needed letters sent out to the various members of congress asking for their support either by cosponsoring these two bills or having the VSO write letters of support to the two committees saying the same. We need similar help and I am again reaching out to you for help in helping those that came before you. Will you help me? I have submitted some testimony to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs that provides some light on how I see picture and asked it be submitted for the record. They have acknowledged receipt and mention they will review. I have attached it to share with you in hopes you can find enough info to assist in sending some good ole letters or make some calls.
Will you help us? The time is very short as the Senate meeting is scheduled for the last of this month. The House vote can be at any time. Please let me know if you can help. Thanking you in Advance.
Good luck at your meeting also at the end of the Month.
My very Best Regards,
J. Don Horton,
President WWII Coastwise Merchant Mariners
104 Riverview Ave, Camden, NC 27921
252 336 5553
Letters of support:
11/2/13 MoveOn.org petition
0/30 update from Don Horton
RESULTS FROM US SENATE VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HEARING ON 30 OCT. 2013 for S-1361 "WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act"
Military Officers of America Association: Supports S 1361
Disabled American Veterans: DAV does not have a resolution on this issue and takes no position on 1361. Note NC DAV approved a state resolution but National turned it down, essentially turning its back on WW I merchant mariners.
Department of Veterans Affairs: VA defers to the Views of the DHS regarding Section 3 of this bill.
Vietnam Veterans of America: VVA has favored such legislation conferring full veteran status on these individuals for almost thirty years, and now urges swift passage of this measure before all of them of dead and gone.
Veteran of Foreign Wars: Did not make a statement on S-1361.
NEXT STEP IS UNKNOWN. WILL ADVISE ALL WHEN APPRISED.
October 29 update from Don Horton
Dear F/B fans. Yesterday we were successful in having the US House vote and pass HR 2189. This bill had an amendment within, HR 1288 “WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act. It received an overwhelming majority vote of 404 to 1 in favor and the bill is now on its way to the Senate.
The next step is: tomorrow the US Senate will conduct Hearings on S 1361 “WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act”, an identical bill to HR 1288 that was amended into HR 2189. It is scheduled for 2 PM and can be viewed on C-span if anyone desires to watch. We have come a long way to correct a travesty ongoing for over 70 years.
Many thanks to all the cosponsors of HR 1288 for staying the course and seeing this bill through the House and on to the Senate. I owe you a debt of gratitude.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed to see this one also hit out of the park. Thanks for all your help.