PortSide NewYork gets a new home!

Historic Tanker to Move to Red Hook’s Atlantic Basin

Space for Regular Programming by Fall 2015

Programming Kicks Off With Educators Open House in June

On the occasion of the 77th birthday on May 21, 2015 of our historic ship MARY A. WHALEN and PortSide NewYork’s 10th anniversary this May, we are pleased to announce that we have found a long-term home beginning Friday, May 29, 2015:  DockNYC has entered into an agreement with PortSide NewYork to bring the MARY A. WHALEN to berth in Atlantic Basin. DockNYC is an initiative created by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in partnership with BillyBey Marina Services, LLC, and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, which is designed to provide berthing space to vessels providing transportation, recreation, educational, commercial, non-profit, historic and cultural opportunities on the city’s waterfront.

The morning of Friday, May 29, 2015, the tanker MARY A. WHALEN will be towed to the south end of Pier 11 in Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  PortSide would like to thank our friends at Vane Brothers for donating this tow. Vane is operating from the same location where the MARY A. WHALEN began her working life at the former site of Ira S. Bushey & Sons and is in the same business moving fuel.

PortSide NewYork’s new location in Atlantic Basin keeps us in Red Hook where we were founded, and puts the ship readily accessible to the public one block from the B61 bus stop for Pioneer Street and right next to the Brooklyn Greenway, an easy stop for cyclists. This puts PortSide at a site - Atlantic Basin - that has a fascinating history we look forward to telling, and on a pier with a lot of maritime atmosphere.  Pier 11, Atlantic Basin has a varied and changing collection of vessels, views of activity in the Red Hook containerport and the cruise ships at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal plus views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines.

Wheelhouse of the Mary Whalen

PortSide NewYork delivers water, waterfront and maritime-themed programs, services and advocacy, working both on and off the tanker MARY A. WHALEN. The MARY is the the last of her kind in the USA and is the only oil tanker cultural center in the world.  She is on the National Register of Historic Places.  She is famous in maritime law for a 1975 Supreme Court decision U.S. vs Reliable Transfer. She is a symbol of NYC resiliency because the PortSide crew rode out the storm on the ship with the office aboard, and then brought that office ashore and set up and ran a hurricane Sandy pop-up aid station, winning a White House award and honors from the New York State Senate for their Sandy recovery work.

PortSide NewYork Atlantic Basin programming will kick off with three events this summer:

  • PortSide NewYork Open House for Educators Week.  Educators (K-12 and college) can visit the ship to discuss programs to create together. This will enable PortSide to launch some of these programs by the next academic year.  Schedule:  Sunday, June 7, 1-6pm; Wed, June 10, 1-6pm; Thurs, June 11, 1-6pm. Educators are encouraged to make an appointment.
  • Public program weekend: a weekend (date TBD) of public programming with Saturday daytime TankerTours, and an evening concert produced by the Jalopy Theatre; Sunday daytime TankerTime with maritime board games and evening Community Pot Luck Picnic aboard.
  • Summer Fundraiser 

PortSide is also still working on our own Sandy recovery (we protected the ship; but all else was damaged), and we are excited to be rebuilding and rebounding in this new location.

We thank all of our partners – Councilmember Menchaca, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Port Authority for getting to this place. 

DC 9 trainees painting Mary Whalen's Galley

With new programming, PortSide is expanding on its existing youth and adult education opportunities:

  •  Three students who attend Williamsburg HS for Architecture and Design (WHSAD) will have paid internships during summer 2015 at PortSide. They will restore the exterior woodwork on the wheelhouse and bridge deck. They are from Red Hook, Carroll Gardens and Maspeth.
  •  We have a relationship with District Council 9, IUPAT Painters and Allied Trades (DC9) which is using the tanker MARY A. WHALEN as a training site.  DC9 painted our ship’s galley.  Their Bridge Construction Division will paint the exterior of the ship once we have the paint. PortSide is seeking donations from paint suppliers.  DC9’s Metal Polishing Division will polish the ship’s bronze and Monel metals after removing paint.


The real estate news is fostering the growth of PortSide NewYork.  We have just added two board members and four advisory board members (see here) and are growing a new fundraising committee.

Get on board, join the team, support our growth, and help bring NYC’s BLUEspace to life!  Our volunteer program will be re-activated at Atlantic Basin, and we seek people to do shipwork, historic research, web design, grant writing, office support and more.


“PortSide NewYork is a living lab bringing change to New York City’s waterfront BLUEspace, and so it is very gratifying that we now have a long-term spot on that waterfront,” said PortSide NewYork Founder and President Carolina Salguero.  “This berth in historic Atlantic Basin keeps us in Red Hook, where we have our roots and where the tanker MARY A. WHALEN, our floating office, venue, and symbol of New York's continuing maritime industry, began her working life in 1938.  With this berth, the PortSide team can now focus on growth and program expansion. We have some great ideas in the works ranging from culture, education, and neighborhood history to resiliency. We are pumped. Watch this waterspace!”

NYCEDC: “Reconnecting New Yorkers to the city’s 520 miles of waterfront is a priority for this Administration and we are thrilled to welcome PortSide and the historic Mary A. Whalen to the Atlantic Basin,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “Through our DockNYC initiative, we’ve worked to revitalize New York City’s piers and raise awareness about the many opportunities on our working waterfront. We are pleased PortSide is part of the DockNYC family and look forward to the increased educational and cultural amenities it will provide to the Red Hook community‎."

The Port Authority of NY & NJ: “The Port Authority of NY & NJ is pleased to assist PortSide in the relocation of the historic tanker Mary Whalen to her new berth in Atlantic Basin,” said Jon Trutneff, General Manager, NYMT of the Port Authority of NY & NJ.  “This new location, under the auspices of NYC Economic Development Corporation, will provide PortSide with better amenities, unimpeded public access and the ability to carry out its programming visions.”

Council Member Carlos Menchaca (38th District):  PortSide’s home at Atlantic Basin is fantastic news not only for Red Hook, but the entire Brooklyn waterfront.  PortSide is the kind of program that breathes life into our waterfront—connecting communities to our blue space, the historic Mary Whalen tanker, and the planning issues that surround maritime activation.  A hearty congratulations to the entire PortSide team, who worked tirelessly with multiple government agency partners to identify a docking location that we can come together and celebrate as a community.  I look forward to all of the PortSide programming ahead for District 38 and the City at large.   

Council Member Brad Lander: “PortSide is an important and long-standing institution, helping to create a vibrant community in Red Hook both on and off shore,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “I’m very glad to see that PortSide will have a new a new long-term location at Pier 11. Congratulations on securing a new place to call home in Red Hook.”

Council Member Steve Levin:  “I am glad to welcome PortSide NewYork to its new home in Atlantic Basin in Red Hook. PortSide has been connecting New Yorkers to their maritime heritage and working waterfront for years and I look forward to their tradition of providing excellent events and programming continuing at Pier 11.”

NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery:  “For 10 years, the vision and determination of PortSide New York has provided a living history of the maritime achievements of New York Harbor. Under the leadership of the indomitable Carolina Salguero students, adults, and even politicians have learned not just history, but the possibilities for a harbor renewal. And during Superstorm Sandy, the services Carolina and Portside NewYork extended to their neighbors in Red Hook were selfless and heroic. For these reasons I am overjoyed the PortSide's home, the Mary Whalen, will find a home in Atlantic Basin and once again be easily accessible to a public eager to walk her decks!”

TankerFlicks aboard the Mary Whalen

NYS Assemblyman and Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix Ortiz "It is my pleasure to congratulate Portside New York on being able to call Atlantic Basin's Pier 11 in Red Hook "home." This has been a long time coming, but with your perseverance and determination, you finally made this happen.   With the 77th birthday of the Mary A. Whalen and Portside’s 10th anniversary, it is fitting that PortSide NewYork is now home."

NYS Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon: “PortSide New York has played a vital role in reacquainting the public with New York’s maritime history and in reconnecting the public to the waterfront – educating us all in the process.  The Mary Whalen’s new home will allow her to welcome more visitors, expand access to the waterfront and increase education about New York’s working waterfront.”

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY):  “PortSide NewYork aboard the Mary A. Whalen is an important resource for all of Brooklyn.  It is fitting that she has found a new home in Red Hook at Atlantic Basin, from which the Brooklyn industrial waterfront grew in the 19th Century.  Now PortSide NewYork will be able to run programming for children, adults and families to better connect to the working waterfront.”

Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY):  “It is great to welcome PortSide to Atlantic Basin, helping to spread the word about the importance of the working waterfront to our economy.  Joining in the exciting revitalization around Red Hook and the container terminal, PortSide will continue to teach, inspire and engage New Yorkers of all ages and from all walks of life. I congratulate everyone for their tireless work and dedication in ensuring that this important New York resource remains in Brooklyn and I look forward to continued progress along our working waterfront and container port.”

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce “Congratulations to PortSide NewYork on their new home in Red Hook,” said Brooklyn Chamber President and CEO Carlo A. Scissura. “Over the past decade, PortSide NewYork has worked tirelessly to improve our waterfronts and the public’s access to them, and their recovery efforts during Superstorm Sandy were invaluable to the city. Brooklyn is lucky to have such a terrific non-profit based in the borough, and I look forward to continuing to see the wonderful work they do to enhance waterways across New York City.”

Craig Hammerman, District Manager of Brooklyn Community Board 6: "PortSide NewYork is a unique non-profit that brings the communities afloat and ashore closer together. The historic tanker Mary A. Whalen plays an important part of that vision. When the Mary A. Whalen dotted our shore a decade ago, we knew she was something special. For many us, it was love at first sight. Now, she'll get to call Brooklyn Community Board 6 her homeport and finally welcome public visitors. It's an attraction we're bursting to share with the world. Ahoy, Mary!"

School Visit to the Tanker Mary Whalen

School Visit to the Tanker Mary Whalen

Realty Collective:  “I and the Realty Collective team are so happy that PortSide NewYork is getting a long term home in Red Hook,” said Realty Collective Principal Victoria Hagman.  “Realty Collective was founded on a mission of enriching the communities in which we work and live, and PortSide does that in an exciting, interdisciplinary way.  They have a forward-looking vision AND a historic ship and historic artifacts.  We love their programs in culture, education and neighborhood promotion, and PortSide’s Sandy recovery work and resiliency planning is significant to Red Hook.  After Sandy, I didn’t know what kind of aid center PortSide would set up at 351 Van Brunt, but I had absolute faith that I could give Carolina Salguero the keys and let her run with it. They helped diverse Red Hook constituencies and won a well-deserved award from the White House for it.”

Brooklyn Greenway: "We are delighted to hear word that the Mary Whalen and PortSide have, at long last, secured a home" said Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Co-Founder Brian McCormick. "Thanks to the leadership of Council Member Menchaca and EDC, this is a big score for 'going blue' that is an essential complement to Brooklyn's waterfront 'going green',” McCormick added. 

SBIDC: The Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC) is pleased to celebrate PortSide New York’s 10th anniversary and the Mary A. Whalen tanker’s long-term home at Atlantic Basin, said David Meade, SBIDC Executive Director. “SBIDC has served the industrial and manufacturing businesses along Southwest Brooklyn’s waterfront for close to 40 years, and we know firsthand the benefits of having an advocate for our working waterfront like PortSide NewYork.  Through its care and maintenance of the historic Mary A. Whalen Tanker, PortSide NewYork provides an invaluable educational experience for the Red Hook and larger New York City community to learn about Red Hook’s industrial and maritime waterfront.

Burchenal Green, President, National Maritime Historical Society:  “The National Maritime Historical Society congratulates Brooklyn on having the historic tanker Mary A. Whalen get a long term home in Atlantic Basin. New York City, the state and then our county itself, were developed from this port. Historic ships tell the important stories of that development and enrich the port, and the community, with the opportunity for hands-on experiences and programs. I have met many young people who say they fashioned their career after a visit to a historic ship that visited their port. Here, Atlantic Basin now has its own historic tanker whose story and programs and message, led by Carolina Salguero, will reach and ennoble thousands of Brooklyn’s citizens and guests. I say “Good job!” to all those who made this possible.”

Rick Spilman, noted maritime author and blogger of The Old Salt Blog:  “The tanker Mary A. Whalen is a vital bridge between our past and future. She is an important reminder of our maritime heritage -- of the rough and boisterous years when tugs, steam ships and tankers, like the Mary A. Whalen, plied the harbor and our coastal waters. Now, as the last of her kind, the historic ship provides a glimpse of a sustainable future through the varied programs of PortSide NewYork, which help draw the citizens of this great port city back to the water's edge.” 

John Burkard: The recently deceased historian of Red Hook John Burkard had this to say in 2012: “I truly believe that something like PortSide should have started 50 years ago....If it did, the Village of Red Hook would not be up and coming,, It Would Already Be!”

Chiclet: The ship cat aboard the Mary A. Whalen Chiclet expressed her pleasure at being able to return to full-time work by rolling around on her back with her paws in the air. “Being the Official Greeter has little importance when there is no one to greet,” said shipcat Chiclet.  “Now that people can get to the ship, I expect to be very busy. Plus, I have been told there will be more work on board to supervise. I can’t wait!”

About PortSide NewYork www.portsidenewyork.org

PortSide NewYork is a living lab for better urban waterways.  PortSide shows how to combine the working waterfront, public access and community development. We bring the communities afloat (maritime) and ashore closer together to the benefit of both.  PortSide NewYork works to activate NYC’s waterfront, especially the BLUEspace or water part of it. 

Since superstorm Sandy, PortSide NewYork has been a key player in recovery and resiliency work.  Our Sandy recovery work in Red Hook won us a White House “Champions of Change” award and honors from the New York State Senate. Our President Carolina Salguero was on the Red Hook committee of the NY Rising Program and contributed many elements to its Red Hook’s resiliency plan.


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.

New Board Members and Advisors


PortSide has two new Board members & four new Advisory Board menbers

Board members added:

Raymond Howell is the owner and manager of Travel Express.  He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. During the Cuban Missile crises, he co-commanded 3 Nuclear war heads and carried the US top secret war codes.  A former EVP at two major regional banks in Omaha and New Orleans, and the French Bank in New York.  He served on the boards of a major symphony orchestra and a major opera company, and was a founding Director of the Louisiana Nature Center. Prior to moving to NYC in 1985, he lived in New Orleans and was a member of the Southern Yacht club. Soon after arriving in NYC, he co-founded the Gowanus Dredgers canoe club which introduced boating to Brooklyn’s toxic Gowanus Canal and helped spur canal clean-up efforts.  As a result, he was one of the winners of MWA’s 2012 “Heroes of the Harbor” award given to paddling groups.


Domenic Venuto is a senior person in the media/marketing world of digital agencies. He is Principal of Domenic Venuto Consulting and a member of The 614 Group’s Advisory Board. He was previously the Global President of Data, Technology and Partnerships at VivaKi where he was a key contributor to VivaKi’s global growth and digital dominance strategy. During four years, Domenic was responsible for all aspects of product development, from strategy and technology to user experience and data. He also over saw the development of SkySkraper: a powerful, centralized solution for standardizing global media spend and performance data at Publicis agencies, one that drives performance and fuels strategic thinking.  Prior to VivaKi, Domenic was Managing Director of Razorfish’s New York office where his work shaped the online products of Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal and Condé Nast’s portfolio of magazines. Before joining Razorfish, Domenic was a Senior Manager in Arthur Andersen’s Business Consulting division where he was responsible for implementing ERP solutions for multinational clients.  Domenic holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne and an MBA from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (R.M.I.T.).

Advisory Board members added:

Captain Jonathan Atkin’s diverse work experience includes museum work, performing arts, travel and maritime photography. He has completed over 850 assignments for the New York Times.  Jonathan is currently a maritime photographer specializing in aerial and ship-to-ship media for vessels from cargo and cruise ships to tugs and barges.  He has been commissioned by the world’s leading media and major corporations that include cargo lines, cruise lines, and towing companies.  At 19, Jonathan sailed as an ordinary seaman aboard a bulk cargo vessel from Texas to Israel and back.  While pursuing an MFA at the Rochester Institute of Technology, he briefly creating his own dance group. During the mid-1970’s, Jonathan was Program Developer for the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the nation’s oldest children’s museum, where he developed comprehensive media, marketing and graphics identities, and directed the museum’s public relations. His larger Brooklyn responsibilities gave him a role in the process of separating the member organizations of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts & Sciences (Brooklyn Museum, BAM, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Children’s Museum) into the independent entities we know today.  Jonathan’s passions converge in his advocacy for historic ships for which he conceived the Hero Project where he photographs world class dancers aboard historic ships. The Hero Project creates a powerful visual duet of dancers and ships that bring visibility to our nation’s maritime legacy in a new ways that reaches new audiences.


Craig Gundry, SVP Operations of the firm Consorzio IDC. Craig’s career has primarily focused on the commercial side of various organizations’ technical efforts serving in hybrid positions of operations, business development, and project management. While working within the Cruise and Offshore Oil & Gas  markets, he has been involved with technical commodity supply,  maintenance/re-power/new-build projects for power generation, wastewater treatment system maintenance/installations, and passenger space refurbishment/conversion/additions.  Currently, he is SVP Operations of the Italian firm Consorzio IDC which has offices in the USA.  IDC has worked on the famous COSTA CONCORDIA salvage job and is heavily involved with providing EPC services to the Cruise industry, along with engineering and design support to Offshore Oil & Gas.  In his free time he enjoys golf, fishing, and is an avid networker within the maritime industry. Craig is the section chair of the South East Section of SNAME (the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers), has been an active "Big" with Big Brothers and Big Sisters for 7 years, and is a member of South Florida Maritime Lions Club.  He has a B.S. from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.


Barry E.A. Johnson, Principal & Head of Inbound Investment & Global Market Access 32 Advisors, LLC Barry E. A. Johnson leads the Inbound Investment & Global Market Access advisory practice of 32 Advisors LLC. He uses his 55-country network and 25 years of multidisciplinary work experience as a corporate business executive, entrepreneur, and economic diplomat to help companies and governments, accelerate cross-border growth and development. His practice bridges major business, policy and culture gaps that challenge international corporations wishing to enter the US or other markets.  He is a also a Fellow in the University of Texas- Austin's Institute for Creativity and Capital , the innovative “think and do” tank helping to catalyze regional economic development through cross-society collaboration. Previously, he served the Obama Administration, first as as Senior Advisor for Economic Development in the U.S. Department of Commerce; then as founding Executive Director of SelectUSA, the first White House initiative to promote and facilitate inward investment.  Prior to that Barry, worked in the private sector in investment banking, real estate and entertainment industries with a specialization in new business formation. He built a strong track record of launching successful “intrapreneurial” businesses at companies that include Disney, Bertelsmann and Sony; and he was founding President of MSBET, the joint venture between Viacom’s BET Networks and the Microsoft Corporation. Barry also serves on the Board of Directors of the Corporation of Yaddo and is a co-founder of the non-profit organization Global Act. Barry has a B.A from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.


Phil Reed is an accomplished Salvage Master, Salvage Engineer, Marine Engineer, Naval Architect, Naval Engineer.  He worked for Titan Salvage for over 20 years on many and high profile, complex salvage jobsHe was one of six Salvage Masters on the famous COSTA CONCORDIA Wreck Removal Project and was one of the principal authors of the Titan-Micoperi bid tender and was involved throughout the project including parbuckling, refloating and the redelivery of the wreck to Genoa.   In December 2012, he launched his own salvage consultancy Reed Maritime LLC which offers services worldwide to salvors, vessel owners & operators, underwriters, P&I clubs, government agencies and solicitors including Special Casualty Representative (SCR), Salvage Master, Project Management and Salvage Engineer. He is also a US-based member of Lloyd's Panel of Special Casualty Representatives (SCR).  In 2015, he did salvage work in New York Harbor in the matter of the GREY SHARK which was brought, while afire, to the Homeport pier in Staten Island. Phil has a BS in Marine Engineering / Marine Transportation from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, and a MS in Ocean Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology.


PortSide NewYork testimony on South Brooklyn Marine Terminal Master Lease between EDC and SBS

EDC photo of south brooklyn marine terminal (sbmt)

EDC photo of south brooklyn marine terminal (sbmt)

Starting in January 2015, the subject of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) on the Sunset Park waterfront has prompted a lot of consternation - and confusion. The media coverage added more confusion than clarity with stories that were short on information and long on political speculation. 

The media muddle

New York City is the media capital of the nation, and it is also a city where none of the major media, as far as we can tell, has a waterfront reporter.

The reporting on waterfront issues shows signs of that lack, notably in the case of SBMT.  We try to fill some gaps in the story below.  The major media spent little time exploring why the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) sought a long term lease from the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) nor illuminated what the relationship is between those two sectors of New York City's own government vis a vis the waterfront. PortSide has been looking into that and will report back in the future.  For now, below, is what we understand to be the essence of the 2015 SBMT story thus far:

The Real Deal in Question

Map from website from the axis group, the first sbmt operator selected by the edc which went bankrupt.

Map from website from the axis group, the first sbmt operator selected by the edc which went bankrupt.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) sought a long term lease from the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS). This is the "Master Lease" often referred to, whereby control over the site was moving between one part of City government to another. "Master Lease" here does NOT refer to the EDC's leasing the site to an operator (a private-sector business) in this go-round. A prior lease was made with the Axis Group that was to run car importing on site, but Axis went bankrupt. Their webpage for SBMT was still live as of this May 20, 2015 here

The local Councilperson, in this case Carlos Menchaca of the 38th District, has, via the City Charter, the function of approving or disapproving such a transaction.  

Menchaca did not approve on round one because he felt that SBMT should not be planned singly, that its development should be considered along with other major developments in the area (such as Industry City) and that the multiple EDC sites in Sunset Park (which all tolled amount to an area as large as many neighborhoods) should be considered as a collective, and that the SBMT development should be planned to benefit the adjoining community in some fashion, and that a mechanism or new governing entity for ensuring that should be created.  The latter concern was because, at some sites, the EDC's metric for success has been rent/revenue earned directly by the agency, an economic benefit which does not necessarily advantage the host community of the EDC site.   Menchaca also felt that the EDC had some unfulfilled commitments in the 38th District and said he would withhold approval of an SBMT deal until those commitments were met.  A home for PortSide NewYork was one of the commitments that Menchaca sought and secured.  

The resulting agreement between Menchaca and the EDC is memorialized in a Letter of Intent (LOI).  Thefinalizing of this LOI is what greenlighted the City Council to have another hearing on the SBMT matter, following up on the December hearing, the first. 

A City Council hearing regarding SBMT was held on Tuesday, May 19, 2015.  This was a hearing of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses.  To watch the video, look for the link VIDEO on that page.  The LOI between Menchaca and the EDC figured largely in the discussion.  Our President Carolina Salguero testified for PortSide NewYork. We outline our understanding of the contents of the LOI in the Appendix at the end of our testimony.  We copy our testimony in full below, or you download it as a PDF here.

The five council members present voted to approve the Master Lease between EDC and SBS. Other councilmembers were present earlier in the hearing, some commented, some did not.  This will be voted on by the entire City Council at the Stated Meeting scheduled for May 27.

PortSide NewYork testimony about SBMT

Testimony of Carolina Salguero
President, PortSide NewYork
May 19, 2015
Testimony to New York City Council

Re:     NYC Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses
LU 0224-2015, proposed maritime lease between the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) for South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT)

PortSide NewYork understands that the EDC-SBS lease discussion led Councilman Carlos Menchaca to work out a Letter of Intent (LOI) with the EDC that includes many terms beyond the SBS-EDC lease and the SBMT site itself. We summarize our understanding of that LOI in Appendix A, and our comments below reflect that understanding.

We commend all parties who participated in the creation of the LOI: Councilman Carlos Menchaca for his vision, steadfastness and willingness to bring multiple parties to the table of future collaboration; and the EDC for listening, for evolving, and for making a strong staff commitment to the Sunset Park waterfront in their new restructuring.  The Sunset Park waterfront is a regional asset that merits such focus.  We applaud the EDC’s commitment to rethink the way it operates in communities where it has assets.

PortSide NewYork’s Credentials

PortSide NewYork is a living lab for better urban waterways.  PortSide NewYork works to activate NYC’s waterfront, specifically the BLUEspace, the water part of it.  PortSide shows how to combine the working waterfront, public access and community development. We bring the communities afloat (maritime) and ashore closer together for the benefit of both.  We think it is key to state that the word “community” also applies to maritime, a constituency that can only be at the waterfront, not just the residential community ashore. PortSide’s Sandy recovery work won us an award from the White House and honors from the New York State Senate.

New template for waterfront management, development and community relations

The LOI is an exciting road map for the future of Sunset Park and of Brooklyn, and it may prove an example for The City. 

We applaud its commitment to holistic planning that will consider the whole suite of EDC sites in Sunset Park and that will integrate developments inside a site fence with what is outside it.

PortSide applauds the development of a task force to influence the RFP for the SBMT site. We are excited that members of the shoreside community will be joined by maritime experts in this task force to help foster the creation of an RFP that reflects maritime market realities.

NYC’s piers have lain fallow for a long time while the maritime industry, which includes non-profits like ours with historic ships, has strained to grow.  All sectors of the maritime industry have been seeking space. The brownwater sector of tugs and barges; charter, excursion and diner boats; ferries and historic ships seeks space.  The Sunset Park waterfront has also attracted strong interest from the bluewater sector, ocean-going vessels that import and export. In fact, there have been two offers to build a containerport in Sunset Park since 2001: Hanjin, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, offered to build such a port if they could run it, and a European concern proposed an automated port.

Elements of this LOI reflect an exciting return to the spirit of Vision 2020, NYC’s comprehensive waterfront plan, created in 2010, which embraced the waterways and called for activating them for multiple stakeholders.

Maritime activation improves resiliency

The spirit of Vision 2020 was at risk of being drowned by Superstorm Sandy which turned water into a frightening force. The resulting flood of federal dollars for resiliency grew a defense-against-water mentality. Fortunately, there is a corrective as the resiliency planning conversation turns towards economic resiliency, and that conversation should foster activation of the waterfront for water-dependant and water-related uses which will grow economic, educational and cultural activity.  

Given the 9/11 waterborne evacuation of Manhattan (350,000-500,000 people) and the one during the 2003 blackout, plus the 2012 lessons of Sandy, planners should bear in mind that the most resilient pier is one that can host many uses, particularly boats, and that supports various emergency functions of evacuation and supply by water. Activating SBMT is a plus in this regard. 

Activate SBMT to work with other major marine & marine rail developments

The Port Authority is making a large investment in the Cross Harbor Project which has rail float bridges near SBMT and a rail line running to SBMT.  SBMT is a regional marine rail transportation asset that should be developed with Cross Harbor in mind.

Indirect economic benefits of waterfront activation

We applaud the evolution in the EDC’s metric for success. PortSide has long advocated that the maritime industry and waterfront activation can offer substantial indirect benefits to the adjoining inland community.  The LOI is a recipe for achieving such goals thanks to commitments to workforce development, the creation of a RFP task force, the installation of better fendering for the north side of the Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT) Pier 4 which will allow more maritime activity on site, the aforementioned holistic planning, and funds from the SBMT lease to support local programming.

PortSide NewYork’s role going forward

PortSide looks forward to participating in the promises manifest in the LOI.   

•    One of the LOI terms is a home for PortSide on Pier 11, Atlantic Basin in Red Hook with a three year contract.   We thank Councilman Carlos Menchaca for his role in getting us our first real estate stability after a ten-year search for a home.
•    We would like to return to BAT Pier 4 and help activate the site for programming.
•    PortSide would welcome an opportunity to join the RFP Task Force.  
•    PortSide has ways to grow indirect benefits of maritime activity including ways to make the maritime industry a neighborhood attraction and an educational amenity via PortSide’s “learn our infrastructure” ethos.  
•    PortSide can share our Waterfront Policy Recommendations which further explains the ecosystem of the maritime industry and its needs.  

Appendix A - summary of the loi

PortSide NewYork understands the SBMT LOI to include the following:

  • 39-year Master Lease between SBS and EDC.
  • The EDC commits to restructuring with a new Executive Vice President position focused on Sunset Park assets, coordinating within the EDC and pulling from all departments and operating from an office in Sunset Park. The department will consider the effect of all EDC assets in Sunset Park; those are Brooklyn Army Terminal which includes BAT Pier 4, SBMT, Bush Terminal (the industrial park), the Meat Market and Bush Terminal Park.
  • A mechanism to involve the landside community and maritime experts in the creation of a Sunset Park Waterfront Planning and Jobs Task Force that will shape the structure of the RFP to find an operator for SBMT.

Community amenities

  • A customized workforce development program in Sunset Park created in partnership with local community organizations to connect residents to jobs created through activation of SBMT.
  • Commitment from the City to provide full funding for the design and construction of a southern entrance at Bush Terminal Piers Park 
  • Amenities at BAT Pier 4 consistent with the 197a plan
  • Installation of fendering on the north side of BAT Pier 4 which will allow for more docking of vessels on site
  • A planning process to understand the scope and costs of building an eco-pier and children’s playground at Bush Terminal Park 
  • Space for the docking of PortSide NewYork on Pier 11 in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook.
  • Creation of a dedicated fund, from the leases on South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, to support local programming

Pitch in during "Get MARY ready for the public" work

Sanding and painting needed in this executive suite asap.  a false plywood floor has been cut and painted and needs to be installed after other surfaces are painted.

Sanding and painting needed in this executive suite asap.  a false plywood floor has been cut and painted and needs to be installed after other surfaces are painted.

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!

To get involved, call 917-414-0565 or email portsidenewyork@gmail.com. More about volunteering in general here.

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.

this is the fidley after yesterday's move of office from shore to ship. all t his has to get put away and the fidley deck  needs a second coat of paint.

this is the fidley after yesterday's move of office from shore to ship. all t his has to get put away and the fidley deck  needs a second coat of paint.

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.

Crude Woodworking

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.





PortSide NewYork 2014 year-in-review

We have been so busy that our communications have not kept up with all we did in 2014!  Here is a recap of the year to bring you all up to date and bring it all into focus.


Helping communities plan for the future

Our most sustained endeavor in this department was our eight months of work (begun in 2013) for New York State’s NY Rising resiliency planning process.  Our Director Carolina Salguero was on the Red Hook NY Rising committee, and PortSide staff and interns supported her work by creating a 17-page document of policy recommendations, and multiple blogposts and webpages with info to help the layman resident or business person make sense of the slew of resiliency plans.  Some exammples at these links:

Our Director Carolina Salguero had a strong impact on Red Hook's final NY Rising plan It was her idea to fund solar-powered emergency lights in Red Hook’s NYCHA housing, an idea that looks as if it could be adopted citywide, and much of her writing and photography is in the plan.

PortSide’s fall fundraiser was also used to help educate communities, planners, policy makers and the media by having Mary Rowe of Municipal Art Society speak (pithily) about resiliency and by highlighting the Red Hook Sandy Recovery work of three individuals and IKEA.

Photo by Dan Wiley

Photo by Dan Wiley

On BLUEspace issues harborwide, PortSide is increasingly called for advice or to speak to communities about the waterfront (video by Dan Wiley).  Our Director Carolina Salguero was asked to represent NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery at a roundtable about challenges faced by small businesses getting Sandy recovery aid. PortSide provides information about waterfront operations as well as civic and political process.  Here are some of the 2014 blogposts that capture that work:

Digital Education

During 2014, PortSide diversified and deepened our rich digital output with content to help people better understand the BLUEspace (the waterfront and waterways).

Our website delivers info about NYC's waterfront, and has extensive content about Sandy recovery and resiliency plans on several pages. 

Our blog has waterfront policy, oral history, reports on community waterfront planning meetings and in-depth descriptions of our ship restoration work.

The Facebook page for MARY A. WHALEN is set up as a person to maximize personal interaction with you! You can really feel the waterfront with multiple posts a day of images/updates about work/daily life on and around the MARY and our shipcat Chiclet.  We also share content from many friends who are mariners on workboats and historic ships and offer an insider's perspective. The Facebook page for PortSide is an organization page, so it cannot share content from the accounts of individuals and has a more formal, institutional voice. 

Our Twitter account shares some of the above and has extensive re-tweeting of content including the following hashtagged themes: #maritime, #ship, #marinelife, #oceans, #waterfront, #urbanplanning, #Sandy, #recovery, #resiliency, #RedHook.

We launched BLUEspace News in 2014, an electronic newsletter to get “news you can use” to the waterfront community (as opposed to our regular newsletters that focus more on our own activities.)  Issue one of BLUEspace News led to several offers of support and many emails and calls of appreciation. We plan to grow BLUEspace News in 2015.

Bringing culture to diverse venues & audiences

PortSide is providing editing advice, promotional support and community outreach to Jonathan Atkin’s “Hero Project,” an exquisite body of work where Jonathan photographs dancers on historic ships as a way to raise awareness of America’s maritime heritage.  We are designing events to bring youth dance programs in contact with this extraordinary body of work that says as much about dance as it does about ships.

We are furthering plans for a major 2016 performing arts event to exceed the standards, success and buzz of our 2007 endeavor.  Can’t say more yet!

Saving history

The historic ship that is our ambassador to the BLUEspace and signature asset, the MARY A. WHALEN, became the last of her kind with the scrapping of another coastal oil tanker, the JOHN B. CADDELL.  The damage done to the JOHN B. by hurricane Sandy underlined the strength of PortSide’s stewardship and good maritime skills; we kept our ship from harm in the storm. Our MARY is the only oil tanker in the world re-purposed for public programs. We thank DonJon Recycling, a business operating on Staten Island for over 50 years, for donating parts of the JOHN B CADDELL to us.

We grew our collection of NYC maritime historic artifacts in other ways.  We received donations from Gary Baum, and we curated and culled from the Cowhey collection – building on our getting their 1941 Hyster crane, which we now have, deemed eligible for National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

We renovated the galley of the MARY A. WHALEN, and we inaugurated the re-purposing of the cargo tanks of the ship, by converting tank P2 into a storage space for our collection of artifacts. The eight cargo tanks represent 2,800sq ft of space we plan to adapt for various purposes.

Moving that collection aboard brought volunteers from many other historic ship projects, a tremendous show of support since ship groups are always stretched thin.  Thanks to the following for sending personnel and telling their volunteers to help our project: the Waterfront Museum Barge, the South Street Seaport, the LILAC, the SS UNITED STATES.

We grew our WaterStories oral history collection with a day of video interviews with the compelling Don Horton, who was a young merchant mariner during WWII.  His visit to Red Hook from North Carolina included an interview with Sunny Balzano, of the famous waterfront bar “Sunny’s.”   On another day, we video interviewed Joe Cowhey, whose firm donated their final inventory to us in 2005 after some 140 years of operating in Red Hook as a firm with a harborwide reputation.

We located more “Mary Whalen alumni,” people with historic connections to the ship as crew, people who repaired her or who worked at Ira S. Bushey and Ekloff, two firms which ran the tanker and have since closed.

Educating & training both youth & adults

We became a training site for a union program. They have been working on the MARY A. WHALEN, and their labor will revolutionize this ship in 2015! We can’t say more at this point!

We completed the first year as a job site for the  CUNY Service Corps, a program where interns are paid to work a full academic year with selected sites.  We are pleased that “our CUNY’s” stay in touch, as do many of our prior interns.  We are proud to be making a difference in the lives of young people.  

We gave Air Force vet Erika Renee Stetson a crash course in steel workboat maintenance during the galley renovation, and she said that experience gave her an edge up when she started at SUNY Maritime in January

Middle School 477, the Math & Science Exploratory School, asked us to speak to several classes studying whether Brooklyn was having a renaissance. We created a place-based discussion on the Red hook waterfront.

Growing ourselves

This represents a lot of work that is hard to see but that will have such a big impact on our 2015.

Real estate negotiations – we expect to soon confirm word of a 3-year berth for the MARY A. WHALEN in Atlantic Basin, Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Profuse thanks to Councilman Carlos Menchaca for getting involved and speeding the negotiations along.  A three-year berth will PortSide, for the first time, stability and the ability to make longer term plans.

During 2014, we spent considerable time reviewing internal policies preparatory to growing the board and other major changes. We talked to consultants, other non-profits, and lawyers, and overhauled our by-laws, instituted new board policies and reworked our brand language to clear up, we hope, the confusion about PortSide’s relationship to the historic ship MARY A. WHALEN. No, we are not a preservation or ship project, we are (and what do you think of this new language?) “A living lab for better urban waterways.  PortSide will create a viable model that combines the working waterfront, public access, community development and economic opportunities.”

We continued plugging away on hurricane Sandy aid paperwork, with great support from a consultant from NYS OEM, and are applying for our approved FEMA Project Worksheet funds to be used for an “Alternate Project” available to non-profits to make them more resilient (as opposed to replacing like with like). We will use the funds to adapt the MARY A. WHALEN to make her more resilient and able to dock at more communities. We recommend that all Sandy-damaged non-profits look into FEMA Alternate Projects.

We ran two successful and distinctive fundraisers, the July "Heavy Metal Sale" during which we culled the choice items from our collection of Cowhey maritime hardware, and the October event "Resiliency is our Hook" at Hometown.

At at Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce non-profit event, we proposed that a Match.com type of service to match Brooklyn non-profit organizations with new board members. This proposal was greeted enthusiastically and Rick Russo of the Chamber said that this is a project the Chamber will commence in 2015! 

And to top it all off, we had fun!

NYC EDC RFP for Red Hook Integrated Flood Protection System Feasibility Study


This morning, the NYC EDC (Economic Development Corporation) released an RFP for Red Hook Integrated Flood Protection System Feasibility Study.

Here is info from their RFP announcement email:

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), on behalf of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR) and the City of New York, is seeking a consultant or consultant team to conduct a feasibility study for an integrated flood protection system for the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook

To download a copy of the solicitation documents, please visit www.nycedc.com/RFP.

The RFP is also available for in-person pick-up between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, at NYCEDC, 110 William Street, 6th floor, New York, NY (between Fulton and John Streets).

Please be aware that all potential updates and notifications will be sent via email to respondents who have accurately and completely filled out the download form or have picked up the relevant documentation.

In addition to downloading the RFP, you may also be interested in signing up to be listed as a potential subcontractor or supplier for companies responding to our development and procurement opportunities.

Additional Info provided by PortSide NewYork

PortSide webpage summarizing various City, State, Federal post-Sandy resiliency plans here

Analysis of the SIRR report proposals for Red Hook coastal protection by City Atlas

NYC's full SIRR report here

Donate to support PortSide NewYork reporting like this

Please consider making a year-end donation to support PortSide NewYork. Click the donate button to send a contribution via PayPal or visit our DONATE page for info on other ways to donate.


Good BLUEspace News! Ferry Service in Red Hook expands via New York Water Taxi!

PortSide New York was pleased to part of the team sharing good BLUEspace news at a press conference today at 1pm at Hometown Bar-B-Que.  Ferry service is expanding significantly in Red Hook with more New York Water Taxi service!

press release

Our Director Carolina Salguero made some remarks at the event and PortSide has a quote in the press release which said "As a living lab for better urban waterways, PortSide NewYork celebrates expanded ferry service for Red Hook as good policy for the city and great for everyone who lives, works, plays and shops in Red Hook," said PortSide New York Director Carolina Salguero.  "Expanded ferry service fulfills our contributions to Red Hook’s NY Rising plan, and aligns with PortSide’s model for combining the working waterfront, public access, community development and economic opportunities."


Questions by PortSide. Answers from Councilman Carlos Menchaca's office

What does expanded service mean?
Instead of just landing at the Van Brunt Street Dock on the IKEA boat during the summer, we are expanding service to that location 365 days a years. This is made possible by the collaboration between NY Water Taxi and IKEA. And people can see that schedule here:  With this people will be able to ride to Van Brunt or Lower Manhattan for $5 each way.

Additionally, we are adding Van Brunt Street as a stop on our All Day Access Loop and introducing a one stop pricing structure. With the new pricing structure, people will be able to get to midtown (West 39th Street) 365 days a year for $9. That schedule is here:

Is it commuter service? Evenings only? Weekends only (like the Red Hook Summer Ferry)?
We will not run during morning rush hour, but based on the schedule it is available during afternoon rush hour.

Where is the stop(s)?
In Red Hook, we will land at Van Brunt Street and will connect people to Pier 11 (Wall Street) in Lower Manhattan and Pier 79 (West 39th Street) in Midtown West.

Who is financing this?
This is being funded by NY Water Taxi with collaboration from IKEA on that service. There is no subsidy for this expansion.

Ticket price?
$5 each way from Pier 11 to Van Brunt Street and $9 from Van Brunt to Pier 79 (the boat does not go directly from Pier 79 to Van Brunt)

Additional Info from Brooklyn Paper article

Brooklyn Paper article

re: schedule "Only one boat will make each round trip, so the ferry will swing by Fairway every 90 minutes between 10 am and 10 pm. But McCabe said that when temperatures warm in the spring and demand increases the trips could increase to a boat leaving every 30 minutes."

re: ferry subsidy/ticket price  "Ikea started subsidizing ferry service to its dock since 2008, but it soon grew tired of non-shoppers mooching free rides, and the following year started requiring receipts showing purchases of $10 or more to be reimbursed for the price of a boat trip. The new service is entirely funded by New York Water Taxi, but Menchaca said he and other pols are looking into sources of public funding to bring prices down."

Donate to support PortSide NewYork reporting like this

Please consider making a year-end donation to support PortSide NewYork. Click the donate button to send a contribution via PayPal or visit our DONATE page for info on other ways to donate.

Sandy recovery work of our honorees at 10/28/14 "Resiliency is our HOOK" fundraiser

PortSide NewYork won a White House “Champions of Change” award in April 2013 for our hurricane Sandy recovery work and honors shortly thereafter from the New York State Senate. 

A huge part of our Sandy recovery work depended on the generous actions of three people PortSide honored at our fundraiser just before the two-year anniversary of the storm on October 28, 2014 at Hometown Bar-B-Que. More on them below.

Blogpost about the fundraiser in general

Blogpost about our special good neighbor award to IKEA

Victoria Hagman of Realty Collective

Victoria Hagman is principal of Realty Collective. So much of PortSide's recovery work after saving the MARY A. WHALEN was enabled by her generosity.  Despite Victoria's home having been flooded along with the basement contents of her Red Hook business location, Victoria, without hesitation and no strings attached, allowed PortSide to use the 351 Van Brunt storefront as an aid station. 

That offer included free electricity, heat, (and telephone and internet once those were back up.)  This became Red Hook’s first small business recovery center, before the location at IKEA, hosting different groups.  The storefront housed a gallery at that time, so PortSide had a stylish aid station, and the fact that the gallery was there is a testament to the trust that Victoria offered in making the space available.  Several Sandy survivors commented that the white gallery space and bright art was uplifting. 

Victoria helped set up a meeting for homeowners to get resilient rebuilding advice from Jim Garrison an architect from Pratt Institute and more.  She continues to do work for Red Hook Sandy recovery and resiliency efforts via multiple groups by participating in NY Rising, in special events promoting red hook, a zoning working, being on the CB6 board and the Gowanus CAG, Ready Red Hook emergency response plan… Safe to say, that if there’s some group working to improve Red Hook, Victoria’s probably in it.

 Danny Schneider of Schneider Electrical Contracting

James Hill (left) of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce presents the award to electrician Danny Schneider

James Hill (left) of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce presents the award to electrician Danny Schneider

Danny Schneider, the principal of Schneider Electrical Contracting in Park Slope, walked into PortSide's Sandy aid center "351" within days of the storm and offered free electrical services.  He had heard through his wife's Facebook page that electricians were needed in Red Hook.

PortSide offered to coordinate his work, and word of the “electrician sign-up sheet” at 351 spread like wildfire in Red Hook. PortSide amalgamated requests by phone, email and text and conveyed them to Danny, who worked off the sign-up sheet.

Danny reports that he inspected and certified sixty buildings (which means many more families than sixty) for free, and repaired some two dozen for the cost of parts.  When electrical parts were getting hard to source, he passed that info to PortSide who began hunting for parts in bulk. He battled hours of traffic each day to get to Red Hook; and in the middle of all that, his license was up for renewal so he battled traffic and lines downtown to get that renewed, and came back to help. He also did volunteer electrical repair in the Rockaways. Video of 
Danny Schneider receiving his award  He also speaks at the end of the video with honoree Victoria Hagman.

Peter Rothenberg, Historian & Curator, PortSide NewYork

Peter Rothernberg (lefti holding his award, and Carolina Salguero (right) 

Peter Rothernberg (lefti holding his award, and Carolina Salguero (right) 

Peter Rothenberg is PortSide’s Historian and Curator. His recovery work includes prevention, restoration of historic artifacts and direct service to Red Hook Sandy survivors, as well as reassuring ministrations to ship cat Chiclet. on our ship during the storm.  See video of Peter receiving his award here.

Within the crew of rambunctious wits that is PortSide NewYork, Peter is a quiet, private worker and just the kind of steady guy you want around when a storm is coming and things are going to hit the fan.

Peter helped PortSide prepare the tanker Mary Whalen for Sandy for four and a half days, and he rode out the storm on the ship with PortSide Director Carolina Salguero and Chiclet.

Peter came armed with foul weather gear and four gallons of corn chowder left over from a Brooklyn Botanic Gardens event (after three days of corn chowder, that taste will forever be associated in our minds with the hurricane). He also came armed with a tender heart for Chiclet who had that knowledge animals have that something bad is coming and washed herself steadily for many hours. Peter made Chiclet a tuffet of pillows so she could see out the tankerman’s cabin porthole

During the storm, Peter joined Carolina working outside easing lines… putting a chimney cap on the stove… putting another line around the tarp covering the wheelhouse windows… and the epic job of tying together every dockline not already in use and dragging that through the water to the pier 265’ to the north.   That line was to prevent the MARY A.WHALEN from floating up onto the pier, and maybe rolling or impaling herself on a bollard or wreaking any havoc.  As the surge waters rose around him, Peter crawled on hands and knees across the jersey barriers along the bulkhead back to the ship.

After the storm. Peter helped rinse out and dry our flooded electrical transformer (which we are still using); and when he found out that Carolina Salguero had forgotten to get our collection of historic documents out of the shed, he set to drying out the collection. Within hours, he had every horizontal surface aboard the tanker covered in wet historic papers, interleaved with whatever we had at hand (sheets, towels, paper towels, wax paper). The stevedores' lounge in the shed was also covered with this project for several weeks.

Peter and Carolina came ashore and set up and ran the aid station at 351 Van Brunt for several days until Dan Goncharoff could make it in from Manhattan to join us. Peter spent much of his time at 351 helping people who did not know how to use computers apply for aid and do other work on the internet.


PortSide surprise award to IKEA "Good neighbor Award for Sandy Recovery Work"

At our October 28, 2014 Fundraiser "Resiliency is our HOOK," PortSide went off script, as we are wont to do, and gave the Red Hook IKEA store a surprise award.

We presented IKEA with a "PortSide Good Neighbor Award for Sandy Recovery Work" in recognition of the varied, inventive and generous aid they provided for over a year.

We gave this award because we think IKEA deserves recognition at the community level for what their Brooklyn store did for Red Hook after Sandy.

We also gave IKEA the award because we are an educational organization, and we think there are some important lessons in the IKEA Sandy story.


1)  IKEA was able to help because they built a resilient building in the first place with the store set high up on a second floor (the garage beneath the store is flood-able space) with elevated electricity and mechanicals. The rectangle of the building was also angled so that a corner faced the water so that it could part waves as does the bow of a ship.  Given the surge in resiliency planning talk after Sandy, we think people should be looking at a design that worked and a company that thought to build that way nine years before Sandy.

2)  The absence of reporting about IKEA’s large-scale, diverse and prolonged recovery work says something about the media.  It shows how reporting clusters around themes, how reporting can be an echo chamber reiterating earlier stories. That a big box store could turn its cafeteria into and aid center and NOT have that generate a single feature story is a remarkable absence. The Fourth Estate can help the discussions of what worked and failed in the recovery period and is going to foster intelligent discussions of resiliency planning, so we ask them to look more closely.

3)  Looking to the future, it is important when making recovery and resiliency plans to understand who really did what in the wake of Sandy.  We encourage everyone (the Red Hook grassroots level, the consultant/planner/think tank contingent, elected officials and the media) to think about what gaps in reporting about Sandy may exist and research those gaps.  PortSide raised awareness of some knowledge gaps in the article “PortSide NewYork & other hidden Sandy Stories” that we wrote at the invitation of the local paper, the Red Hook Star Revue. 

Activities of the IKEA Brooklyn store in Red Hook

IKEA Brooklyn donated furniture to over 25 small businesses.

IKEA Brooklyn donated products directly to local non profits.

IKEA opened its Red Hook doors to National Disaster Organizations (FEMA & SBA, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and others which used half of the cafeteria and other spaces for their operations.

IKEA Brooklyn worked with Tunnel2Towers who brought about 16 box trucks full of donations for their co-workers and Red Hook neighbors for two weeks.

IKEA Brooklyn held a hiring event for displaced workers as a result of Sandy, offering temp work until their home businesses were back on their feet.

Additional work occurred at IKEA Elizabeth, Paramus, & Long Island with each store each working with their local communities.

IKEA provided $250,000 so that GlobalGreen could implement the “Solar for Sandy program” which installed solar power in the Red Hook Rec Center, so Red Hook has one off-the-grid community emergency center. The ribbon cutting was October 23, 2013 just before the first Sandy anniversary.

IKEA Brooklyn subsidized free Red Hook Summer Ferry in 2013 and 2014.

IKEA Brooklyn provided great support for their co-workers:

They brought in 3 counselors to help co-workers cope with the situation.

IKEA converted its large conference room into a makeshift shelter for co-workers and their families.

IKEA US organized a co-worker to co-worker donation program to help those IKEA co-workers who lost their homes or personal belongings.

IKEA received donations from other IKEA stores to give to our co-workers & their families (The store in Virginia sent a truck full of donations, driven up by two of their co-workers).

In addition, there were IKEA national initiatives

IKEA US donated over $500,000 in products for the NY/NJ area to disaster relief via the Red Cross.

IKEA donated furniture to firehouses, senior centers, & public libraries after Sandy

IKEA donated home furnishing to a Family Head Start/Early Learning facility in Brooklyn affected by Hurricane Sandy as part of the Life Improvement Project.

IKEA together with Tunnel2Towers:

donated furnishings for those in need in Staten Island and Brooklyn. Beds, mattresses, dining tables and chairs, chest of drawers, sofas. Value approximately $300K at retail dollars.
Product to be delivered to Staten Island and Gerritsen Beach locations.
Donations benefited between 500 to 1000 families in need.

IKEA teamed up with Save the Children and UPS to help refurnish 39 early childhood development centers in New York and New Jersey hit by Hurricane Sandy.

IKEA donated more than $100,000 worth of items, including bookcases, children's tables and chairs, cribs, desks and blankets to devastated child care centers Save the Children is helping to restore, as well as to the charity's Brooklyn field office. UPS is donating delivery services.

IKEA held special Sandy Recovery marketing events:

20% off Kitchens in January to help people rebuild
IKEA Brooklyn discounted moving boxes (Samla) in the months after Sandy

Success & good times at PortSide NewYork "Resiliency is our HOOK" Fundraiser

Profuse thanks to everyone who made our October 28 fundraiser a big success and lots of fun!  Below are photos and videos of the event. We were told that the speeches were by turns "hilarious, in that Red Hook way, and moving." 

PortSide sought to celebrate positive actors, deeds and lessons associated with Sandy, and the laughter and happy vibe said we nailed it.

The event brought together old friends, new friends, and many people from outside Red Hook who joined with the locals to create a strong feeling of community in the room.  The crying two-year old Ruby was quieted by being invited on stage before our first speaker, so yes, it was a family affair.

PortSide invited Mary Rowe, Director of Urban Livability and Resiliency at the prestigious Municipal Art Society to share her resiliency wisdom accumulated since  post-Katrina work in New Orleans.  

Mary Rowe  praised Red Hook's inventive recovery energies, underlined the need for local-level resiliency because big engineering systems fail and got very real when she pointed to the need to get past a standard recovery stage "where we really can't stand each other." She concluded by asking  "how do we keep ourselves really ambitious about what can be Red Hook not only for Red Hook" but for the borough, the city, the region. MORE

Our three honorees (Victoria Hagman, Danny Schneider, Peter Rothenberg) where moved by receiving their awards, to the point that Danny Schneider bounded back on stage to make some remarks.  

More about the generous recovery work of those three including videos of them receiving their awards, here...

PortSide NewYork presented a surprise "good neighbor" award to IKEA for their diverse, inventive and sustained recovery work. More... 

The elected officials who attended were Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, NYS Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, Councilman Brad Lander and Councilman Carlos Menchaca.

The elected officials who spoke (Felix, Brad, Carlos) had warm praise for PortSide and also contributed some laugh lines to the evening.  Nydia was under the weather and bowed out early.

Thank you Hometown Bar-B-Que for the fab BBQ praised by many.

Thank you Red Hook Ramblers for the great jazz also praised by many.  

Thank you Marsha Trattner of She-Weld for creating the fantastic awards (see photo below), and thanks to Red Hook Initiative for the youth who shot the videos of the event.  

Thanks to our great host committee for the support that brought so many guests and new friends to PortSide at this event.

Thanks to our old and new friends who were the event sponsors!

Volunteers needed! Moving more vintage marine stuff! We need to wrap this up 11/17!

Volunteers Needed for Weekend 2

Saturday 11/15/14 9am-5pm
Sunday 11/16/14
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 portsidenewyork@gmail.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.

Paul Strubeck pulling out some pistons while Mike Abegg wears part of our Operation Christmas Cheer paraphinalia.

Paul Strubeck pulling out some pistons while Mike Abegg wears part of our Operation Christmas Cheer paraphinalia.

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.

PortSide Veteran's Day update on forgotten merchant mariners of WWII

Don Horton's mother on a barge during WWII

Don Horton's mother on a barge during WWII

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?

Don Horton at work on a barge during WWII.

Don Horton at work on a barge during WWII.

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.

Volunteers Needed! Want to use your rigging skills or learn some? Care to help move vintage maritime stuff?

Volunteers wanted!

In preparation to leave the containerport and to make way for a tenant in the shed, PortSide NewYork is clearing everything out of the Pier 9B shed. Everything must be out by 11/17!

Care to spend a nice fall day moving interesting antique marine hardware and vintage engine parts? Want to learn some rigging? Or practice the rigging you already know?  Know how to drive a forklift? We could use you this weekend!

Saturday 11/8/14 9am-5pm
Sunday 11/9/14
Pier 9B, Red Hook Container Terminal, Brooklyn, 11231

Free pizza in return!

Pizza is on us afterwards.  We can eat in the galley all cozy 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 portsidenewyork@gmail.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!

Work plan

Saturday work will be led by Captain Matt Perricone who owns the historic tug CORNELL and other vessels and is a principal at Diamond Marine Services. He is also a licensed  marine engineer. 

Sunday work will be led by Nobby Peers, principal of Whitworth Marine Services, a world sailor and engineer who specializes in repairing and restoring vintage engines afloat and ashore.

Most stuff will come aboard the tanker MARY A. WHALEN.  Things to move include replacement parts for the engine on the tanker MARY A. WHALEN, vintage maritime hardware and artifacts for exhibits we will save, and hardware and artifacts we will sell. There is one trip to the scrapyard to finally get rid of  stuff hurricane Sandy flooded, so a volunteer with a pickup would be really appreciated!

We will use the boom from the MARY A. WHALEN to lift things onto the deck, at that point some of it heads to the engine room and most of it goes into a cargo tank. 

Saturday: Matt Perricone will cut a hole in the deck plate so we can lower in full pallet loads of stuff.  On a subsequent trip, he will make that plate a lift-able cover so that we can get in there again easily.  On Saturday, we will focus on getting things into that newly opened cargo tank.

Sunday: Nobby Peers and crew will focus on getting things into the engine room.  The engine heads will be installed on top of the cylinders in the engine room. The pistons have not yet had restoration work to revert the Sandy-damage done to them, so they will not go in the cylinders on the ship. They will be greased, wrapped and stored. 

Davits will stay on the pier. Spare cylinders, lower engine block and fuel pump are headed to another shed.

Slide show of what we are moving

Mariners, please share your Sandy stories here for the benefit of all

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.

Sandy aid (grant & loan) for homeowner repairs

Van Brunt at Pioneer Street, image courtesy of  Erinmelina  , from Gotham Gazette, used under Creative Commons license.

Van Brunt at Pioneer Street, image courtesy of Erinmelina, from Gotham Gazette, used under Creative Commons license.

Sandy aid for Homeowner Repairs

Combo of $15,000 loan for 5 years at 2% and $15,000 grant = $30,000 with both.

We heard that the deadline for this is approaching. If you know or find out when it is, please post that as a comment!

Thank you Andrea Sansom for providing this info!

Authorization for Credit Report (Non-Borrower)

ER loan grant package

Contact person:

Raquel Colon, Senior Housing Counselor

Asian Americans for Equality CDF

111 Division Street

New York, N.Y. 10002

Tel: 212 964-2288

Fax: 212 964-6003

email: raquel@aafecdf.org