February 17, 2012
Posted by Carolina Salguero
Here is some urgent news and a call for your support so that PortSide NewYork can stay open
and the tanker MARY A. WHALEN can be saved. Please read and forward this flyer about our meeting on Monday 2/27/12:
Conference Rooms A & B
339 Hicks Street, Brooklyn NY 11201
After that, until 10:30pm at Montero's Bar
across Atlantic Ave from LICH just south of Hicks.
The Bad News:
We will not be getting a
home in Atlantic Basin in time to keep us in business. After six years of working on getting a home, and 3+ years working on
Atlantic Basin, we finally need a place.
PortSide needs to have a home confirmed by April 30th, or we will close and the tanker MARY A. WHALEN
will likely be scrapped, as there are few commercial uses for her.
You may wonder why we
cannot continue with the MARY A. WHALEN docked in the Red Hook
Containerport. PortSide is very grateful
for that berth, but the need to secure the port means there are Homeland
Security regulations and Port Authority rules that prevent us from using the
ship for programs or revenue generating activities there. More on that at
bottom of the post.
Without a location where
YOU can visit us, PortSide cannot meet its goals for the community, or earn
money with the ship, and cannot continue.
Some Good News:
We have have identified
several locations that we think could work for us, including some nearby. We are fully engaged in reaching out to those
Help us continue programs like these!:
We created the public
performance in a local container port, with the TankerOpera. We created the first cultural program in GMD
shipyard in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We
introduced the Dutch Flat Bottom
Fleet to Atlantic Basin and created the first public programs there
including 44 events during July and August 2010 and the free sails on the
Clipper City earlier in the year. We
created the first free, public, bilingual
historic ship tours in NYC during Concierto Tipico, a salsa concert in
We are redesigning the BoatBox used by
the Red Hook Boaters in Valentino Park to make it an amenity for the whole
community. We invented Kayak Valet, now an
established harbor term.
We created an important
9/11 exhibit about how the marine industry evacuated hundreds of thousands
of people on 9/11 and went on to help NYC recover from the attacks.
And, PortSide NewYork is the
first - and only - group to save a tanker ship in the USA for public use. We did the paperwork to have the MARY A.
WHALEN deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
More good news:
PortSide does not need to
be in the new home by the end of April (though that would be a blessing); we just
need it confirmed to enable fundraising.
How real estate affects funding:
Funders want to see that an
organization has a stable base of operations and that programs can occur on a
predictable basis. Up until now,
PortSide has been forced to negotiate permits for every event we have ever
done, and we have never received permission on more than 3 weeks notice! After months of planning, one big event, the
Dutch Flat Bottom Fleet Open House of 2009, was approved only nine days in
advance. Our summer 2010 permit for Atlantic Basin took 7 months to negotiate and was only cleared 20 days in advance.
PortSide has been
negotiating for a publicly accessible home for almost seven years.
As you all
know, homelessness is an exhausting proposition. It makes it hard to get things
I am sharing this news with you in the hope that you will support
PortSide and help us bring this real estate hunt to a speedy conclusion. PortSide needs a real home for our ship so we
can deliver the programs we have promised and I keenly want to deliver.
It’s been six years and
nine months since we did our business plan funded by the Department of Small
Business Services (SBS). It is four
years and five months since we responded to the EDC RFEI for Atlantic Basin, and
five years since we responded to an EDC RFP for Atlantic Basin.
In late 2008, the EDC
announced that PortSide would have a home in Atlantic
Basin. They asked us to do programs there every year, which we
did, but without the security of an underlying ongoing lease agreement, we did
not have the ability to apply for grants, seek major donors and conduct
fundraisers based on a known schedule of programs. Under those conditions, planning and doing
programming is not sustainable and we need to get into a situation that allows for proper capacity building.
Note that Atlantic Basin is owned by the Port Authority, and the EDC leases Atlantic Basin from the Port Authority which has ultimate say about activities there.
What we did do in Atlantic
Basin and all our other temporary outposts is provide a taste of what we will
do when we have a place where we can flourish.
If PortSide can do as much as we have while homeless, imagine how much
more we can do with a proper home!
We have plans and the
capability to do more for you in the future; we just need a place to do
it. I ask you to please come to
PortSide’s meeting at 6:30pm on Monday 2/27 at LICH and help PortSide by
speaking up and stepping up.
Details about why staying in the Red Hook Containerport is not viable:
For example, if you don’t
have a Homeland Security ID, a TWIC card, we have to escort you five blocks
from the gate to the ship. Since the onset of TWIC cards in March 2009, each
card holder could only escort five visitors who did not have a TWIC. It is
pretty hard to get a school group here under such circumstances; and large
audiences such as attended the 2007 opera are impossible.
As of new rules effective
Monday February 13, I am now the only person at PortSide NewYork who can escort
any visitors at all. That means only five non-TWIC card holders can come to a
meeting at our office on the ship, or tour the boat, or work on a volunteer day.