Port Authority Chief Lays Out His Vision for Brooklyn Waterfront

Chris Ward, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is stepping down at the end of the month. But, before he leaves his post, he had some final policy recommendations for the Brooklyn Waterfront and Governor’s Island.

He thinks the city should revitalize the Brooklyn waterfront by replacing Red Hook's maritime businesses with a high-capacity ferry to further developed Governor's Island.

Ward said, "I will state here today, as the outgoing director of the Port Authority, that Governor’s Island will never realize its full economic potential so long as the Red Hook Container Terminal remains a container terminal."

He said the Red Hook waterfront should instead serve as a mass transit connection to Governor’s Island.

As for the island, Ward said some parkland and historic structures should be preserved, but the rest of it should be developed in a way that would make it self-sustaining "or you will face infrastructure and operating costs of $65 to $100 million a year in a city which is desperately trying to close its budget."

The irony is that Ward used to be CEO of American Stevedoring, the chief maritime business in Red Hook. Now he’d like to see those kinds of operations concentrated in Sunset Park and Bay Ridge.

"There’s a tremendous amount of nostalgia for the Brooklyn waterfront, driven by the idea that container terminals create huge amounts of jobs," he said. "We have the image of the Brooklyn waterfront of men leaving their homes, kissing their mothers and wives goodbye, carrying their lunch, thousand of them, working on the waterfront. That model is no longer the case."

Ward made his suggestions at a speech at a Municipal Arts Society conference in Manhattan on Thursday.