By Dennis Holt
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BROOKLYN — Remember the Keystone Cops from the old silent movies? We now learn that the U.S. Customs people want to create the Keystone Shippers based in Red Hook.
Reports this week say the U.S. Customs Bureau wants to shut down its operations in the Red Hook Container Terminal because so little product comes into that facility — about 110,000 containers a year.
Last year, 59,223 containers came into the port, only 3,739 of which were inspected by Customs. So it doesn’t make sense to close that function down. It makes sense for Customs perhaps, but not for anybody else — not for banana and beer shippers or people who buy those or other products, nor the city as a whole. It probably would force the closing of this small shipping facility and end any hope of a larger container port later on in Sunset Park.
The folly of such a proposal by Customs is that everybody knows that the Red Hook Container Terminal is uneconomical and inefficient and always has been. The city has wanted to close it down for years, but keeps failing to provide anything else on the site that makes sense. In addition, a case can be made, and has been made, that there is a practical reason to have a more efficient container terminal on the Brooklyn waterfront, and that prematurely closing Red Hook down would be a mistake.
So in the larger picture, Customs cutting and running makes no sense. Red Hook-bound containers might as well be thrown overboard so that tides can bring them onto shore. Because Customs seems to have gotten some cold feet, so there is probably time to defer this thinking and this proposal.