Bay Ridge — U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm hailed an agreement reached last week between the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that will allow inspections of cargo from ships arriving in the U.S. to continue at the Red Hook Container Terminal.
“I think this is a win-win for our community,” Grimm said.
Bay Ridge, which Grimm represents, and Red Hook are not neighboring communities. But the developments surrounding the Red Hook Container Terminal and the possibility of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection ceasing its inspections of overseas cargo there could have impacted Bay Ridge, the congressman said.
Officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection had strongly been considering moving the inspections apparatus to a container terminal in New Jersey.
The move would have meant that cargo arriving from overseas to the Red Hook Terminal would have had to be trucked from Red Hook through South Brooklyn, and over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, through Staten Island, and on to New Jersey.
“It would have been a nightmare,” Grimm said in a phone interview the Bay Ridge Eagle. “We already have enough traffic congestion in our community. And the security issues jumped right off the page.”
Grimm was referring to the possibility of uninspected, and possibly dangerous, cargo being transported through Bay Ridge streets and on a bridge that is used by hundreds of thousands of vehicles a day.
There was also the very real concern that terrorists would sneak a bomb into cargo that would have been able to explode on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, local officials said.
Aside from terrorism, there were economic concerns, Grimm said.
“Moving the inspections out of Red Hook would have threatened the viability of that terminal. If you’re a business that does shipping, you don’t want to have to pay extra to truck the cargo from Brooklyn to New Jersey to get it inspected. Red Hook would have lost business. Lost business means lost jobs,” Grimm said.
The closure of the Red Hook terminal would have affected mom-and-pop businesses, too, according to Grimm.
“The dock workers have coffee in the local coffee shop,” he said.
The agreement calls for U.S. Customs inspections to continue at the Red Hook facility for the next five years.
“Customs doesn’t usually give a five-year guarantee, but the Red Hook Terminal owner agreed to spend money to upgrade the facility. The Port Authority also agreed to put in some money. I think Customs was impressed by that,” Grimm said.
The agreement was also hailed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, U.S. Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Jerrold Nadler, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“This agreement protects hundreds of jobs and preserves a vital commercial port that is critical to brooklyn’s economy,” Cuomo said.
— Paula Katinas