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Harbor Camp kids aboard John J. Harvey 


Bernard Ente 


The metropolitan area loses a 

brilliant chronicler of and advocate 

for the waterfront. Read more below.

(Harbor Camp participants aboard
the John J. Harvey by Bernard Ente)



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WaterWire is your platform for getting the word out. All comments, points of view, event notices, and letters to the editor, Alison Simko, are welcome.
Events on the Waterfront
Click on the links for details about these events. A calendar of events
may be found at

April 15
 Convention: Innovation and the Global City
8a-4p, Waldorf-Astoria

April 16
Run and Fair: Earth Day
7:30a, Liberty State Park
Boating: Kayak Fishing
11a, Floyd Bennett Field

April 17
 Fair: EarthFest
12p, Pelham Bay Park

April 20
Public Hearing: Newtown Creek Mitigation Funds
6p:30p, Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Visitor Center
329 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn

April 22
Beach Campfire
6:30p, Jacob Riis Park

April 23
Clean-Up: Earth Day Marsh Clean-Up
9a, Fort Tilden
Celebration: Spring Fling
10:30a, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Celebration: Earth Day
11a-3p, One Beard St, Red Hook Brooklyn

April 24

Beach Clean-Up
2p, Great Kills Park

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To the editor:
[Re: "WAVES Rolls Into Next Phase;
130 Projects Go Forward,"
, March 18, 2011]

There's no mention in the waterfront plan of our end of Brooklyn.


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*Tides are for the waters off St. George, Staten Island on April 15, 2011. For tidal information at your specific waterfront, visit and the Urban Ocean Observatory
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TOCCONTENTS: April 15, 2011
SOS! Concern Mounts as Seaport Museum's Historic Fleet Deteriorates
Advocates step forward


Take a Deep Breath, Red Hook
Agencies agree on how to fund electrical power at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal


Disney Cruise Line will Visit New York City 
EDC study shows cruise passenger spending numbers are way up


New York-New Jersey Harbor Designated a "Great Water"

The Maritime World Loses Another Exceptional Individual
Bernard Ente, 1951-2011


Attention Waterfront Event Planners!
Send details to WaterWire for inclusion in our annual printed summer calendar


The Summer Begins to Take Shape
SAVE THE DATE: 4th Annual City of Water Day Festival is July 16, 2011


Meet Some MWA Partners



Little is Shipshape, as the Historic Fleet Rots and Rusts
After people fell through the rotting deck of the great four-masted barque Peking, South Street Seaport Museum staff placed sheets of plywood over the holes. The ship's rusted bowsprit is in danger of collapsing. Hull corrosion, frayed rigging and peeling paint are plain to see.

Waterfront advocates around the city are concerned. "Boats in general require constant maintenance, and older boats need that much more," said Tom Berton, the founder of Manhattan By Sail, a commercial operation that offers sails on the Clipper City and the historic Shearwater. "Every week that goes by where there's not competent, diligent and moneyed attention lavished on these boats, even at a modest level you're losing ground. And when you lose ground, it costs much more to fix."

Docked nearby on the East River waterfront, the Museum's Marion M., the last wooden-hulled chandlery lighter used in New York Harbor (see photo below), is not in good shape, nor is the tug Helen McAllister, a stalwart vessel busy in the first half of the 20th century. No longer in running condition, the tug is virtually abandoned. On occasion, homeless people slip through the open cabin doors and take shelter.

Two photos above by Robert Simko

The wrought-iron Wavertree languishes alongside the tug. The historic sailing ship underwent restoration at Caddell Dry Dock in 1998, but it has since deteriorated, with peeling paint and hull corrosion among the more visible problems. 

Across Pier 16 floats the Ambrose, the Museum's cheery red lightship. Below the waterline, an old leak patched years ago has reopened and more than 1,000 gallons of water has seeped into the bilge. "If the patch fails there's going to be a big hole underwater, which is a very bad place to have a hole on a boat," said Michael Abegg, the Museum's Chief Mate who was fired last Wednesday. He had been with the Museum, as a volunteer and staff member, since the early 1990s.

At the end of the month, the Museum's dockmaster, Don Boye, is resigning, following a trail of fired, furloughed or resigned Museum employees and trustees. While the museum's floundering is common knowledge, less media attention has focused on the
deteriorating ships themselves. Who will take care of these irreplaceable vessels?

"A ship not cared for is a ship headed for the bottom," said Brendan Sexton, former NYC Sanitation Commissioner, former Municipal Art Society President and currently of the Sexton Company, who has taken a strong interest in the fate of the Seaport Museum and its ships. He shared reports on each Seaport vessel, compiled this past January by marine surveyor and consultant Joseph Lombardi, who runs Ocean Technical Services. In some cases, Mr. Lombardi boarded the Museum vessels; in other cases he observed the vessels from the dock or an adjacent boat. After detailing each vessel's condition, he estimated the current market value and the cost of restoration. Value and condition varies widely -- and it's not all bad news. Both schooners -- the wooden Lettie G. Howard, built in 1893, and the iron/steel Pioneer, built in 1885 -- are estimated to be worth a quarter million dollars each and are described as in good shape. The historic Peking, however, one of the largest sailing ships ever built, which Mr. Lombardi says "should be the pride of the collection," is estimated to be worth just half a million dollars, with restoration costing up to $28 million.

A physical reminder of New York City's maritime heritage, this fleet of historic vessels is both an asset to the museum and a liability. "The Museum has ships it can't care for," Mr. Sexton said. "It's not rocket science. The Museum has to find new sources of funds and they have to figure out how to operate a set of facilities that match the revenue. Maybe there's a better home for the ships."

Peter Stanford, the founding president of the South Street Seaport Museum in 1967, insists that even though it will take tens of millions of dollars to bring the fleet up to minimum standards, this is not a financial problem. "It's a political problem that has produced a financial catastrophe," he said. "Money is not the problem; the attitude is the problem. Lack of respect for hard work and knowledge: that's a big problem."

"I'm trying to save the ships," he said. "We've got to restructure the management of the Museum and that means, first, improved relations with the public. Closely linked to that is building a real active membership and an active volunteer corps."

Last Saturday Mr. Stanford met with a group of two dozen loyal Museum volunteers at Pier 16. These volunteers have created a web site and a Facebook page, both called Save Our Ships. In association with Save Our Ships, Mr. Stanford has issued a proposal for the future of the Seaport Museum that includes these points:
  • Rededication to public engagement through an active program of meetings, newsletters, public events centered on the story of New York, a city of the sea, which brought us our people, diversity, wealth and freedoms;
  • Developing an active membership to whom a reconstituted board of trustees should be accountable through elections, and who must be informed of trustee decisions. 
  • Focus on public demonstrations of ship operations. Successful museums built around historic ships, as South Street was, thrive today. We must bring our ships to life with sail-handling and sailorly arts used in crew training -- with visitors helping to handle line -- telling their own stories and advancing a cultural heritage vital to the city's story.
  • Immediate appointment of an interim director to launch these measures under trustee direction, guided by an Advisory Committee of respected ship museum leaders.
The document is also signed by Robert Ferraro, Kent Barwick, Sandy Eames, Mike Abegg, Robert Rustchak and Michael Yamin. The group says a financial plan will be available soon.

For advice and assistance, Mr. Stanford has called upon executives at successful maritime museums in San Diego, Mystic, CT and Erie, PA. He's also relying on the loyal band of Seaport volunteers. "God, they're good," he said. "They've got a skilled ship's carpenter and electricians. The people of New York have immense resources, including money!"

Seaport Museum Board chairman Frank Sciame and executive director Mary Pelzer are said to be aware of Mr. Stanford's plan and, separately, Mr. Sexton's ideas and vessel surveys, but neither was available for comment.

Others in the metropolitan region's close-knit maritime world are stepping forward with ideas and proposals, among them, Tom Berton.

"These boats should be preserved," he told WaterWire. "They should be kept in New York. It's hard not to criticize when you see the opportunities and the assets that the Seaport Museum has squandered. I can't buy those boats, but I could operate them. I could activate the Lettie G and the Pioneer this year with public programning. I could make sure the boats were safe and well-crewed. They should at least get these boats operational."

(back to top) 

Next Year, That Haze of Diesel Exhaust Should Start to Lift
Cruise ships emit great quantities of exhaust and soot even when docked, a fact well known by the residents of Red Hook who have complained for years about idling ships and poor air quality around the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Environmentalists say that a ship idling for one day emits as much exhaust as 10,000 cars in the same time period.

Photo of the Queen Mary 2 at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal by Robert Simko

The answer is to plug in to electrical power when docked. Last year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey set aside $12 million for building electrical infrastructure at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contributed $3 million more. Cunard and Princess, the cruise lines that dock at the terminal, agreed to spend millions to retrofit their ships. The hold-up has been an agreement on which agency -- New York City? New York Power Authority? -- will pay how much for the necessary power subsidies. 

On April 13, Mayor Bloomberg announced that a competitive rate had been negotiated with the state Power Authority, and both the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the Authority had agreed to subsidize part of the cost of the power. Construction of the electrical grid will begin this summer and is expected to be complete in 2012. This agreement will make Brooklyn home to the first East Coast terminal to provide shore power.

The good news was a long time coming to Adam Armstrong, a father of two young children who lives down the street from the Terminal. "After 6 years of being exposed to the dangerous but avoidable smokestack emissions from the idling cruise ships, we, the residents of Red Hook and beyond, will finally be able to breath easy, knowing that these carcinogenic, asthma-inducing and otherwise harmful substances have been removed from our air," he wrote in an email. A community advocate through his blog, A View From the Hook, Mr. Armstrong rallied his neighbors and government representatives to push hard for shore power. He calls this plan the first step. "The use of shore power in Brooklyn should set the example for the rest of our city's ports where similar 'green' practices could and should be implemented, with resultant health benefits for all New Yorkers," he said. "So, bravo Brooklyn, and let's keep pushing towards a healthier, cleaner and greener future - for our ports, for our city, and for all of our residents." (back to top)
New Study Indicates Numbers are Way Up for Cruise Passenger Spending

One year from now, Disney Cruise Lines -- in the form of Disney Magic -- will begin making calls to New York City. 

As announced by Mayor Bloomberg on April 6, Disney Magic -- the sixth major cruise line to make New York City its homeport -- will bring an estimated 45,000 new passengers to New York.

The cruise industry in NYC is surging. This past January, the NYC Economic Development Corporation released results of an economic impact study undertaken last fall, showing that cruise passengers and crew spent an estimated $144.6 million in New York City in 2010, far exceeding the $93.8 million spent in 2009. Download the study here, at the New York Cruise web site.

We Locals Knew It All Along,
But this is National Recognition
Last year, water restoration advocacy groups from around the country came together to establish America's Great Waters Coalition. The purpose: to advocate for greater federal funding for wise environmental and economic management of the country's major bodies of water, and to raise awareness with a united voice. Great rivers such as the Ohio, the Colorado and the Mississippi were designated Great Waters, as were huge freshwater ecosystems such as the Everglades. As announced in late March, the New York-New Jersey Harbor has now been designated one of America's Great Waters, joining other large coastal ecosystems of the nation including Puget Sound and Chesapeake Bay.

"America's Great Waters are essential to our nation's growth and prosperity," said Malia Hale, co-chair for the America's Great Waters Coalition and director for national restoration and water resources at the National Wildlife Federation. "For example, a recent report by Mather Economics found that every $1 invested in Everglades restoration generates $4 in return. In addition, a recent study by the Brookings Institution found that restoring the Great Lakes will bring the eight-state region at least $2 in economic benefits for every $1 of federal investment."  

"We cannot afford not to protect our Great Waters," said Theresa Pierno, co-chair for the America's Great Waters Coalition and executive vice president for the National Parks Conservation Association.  "The health of our Great Waters is directly linked to America's economic recovery and the creation of jobs. Millions of jobs are dependent on our Great Waters and contribute trillions to our nation's economy."


To read about all 19 Great Waters, click here. On March 15, more than 100 member groups of the coalition signed a letter to Congress urging Senators to reject reductions in funding of restoration efforts. To read it, click here. (back to top) 

enteBERNARD ENTE, 1951-2011

Photo by Cindy Goulder

Brilliant Photographer, Waterfront Advocate
Bernard Ente, a gifted photographer whose images of the metropolitan waterfront graced many a web site and publication, died on April 8. A vital member of the boards of the Newtown Creek Alliance and the Working Harbor Committee, Mr. Ente was generous with his photographs, allowing their use by many organizations, including the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. He can be seen here, narrating a documentary about Newtown Creek. Last year, the U.S. Postal Service dedicated a stamp to the State of New York that bore an image of the fireboat John J. Harvey rendered from one of Mr. Ente's photographs. Below, friends and colleagues pay tribute to Mr. Ente.

Katie Schmid of the Newtown Creek Alliance: "He documented the life and movement of the Creek, administered the NCA website, and was a gracious liaison to the Borough of Queens, the bridges of Newtown Creek, and the community of committed advocates for New York's maritime industry. His knowledge of Newtown Creek history led us all to discover what a treasure the Creek is, and his insightful grasp on its present challenges created the core of the Alliance's agenda."

Photographer Mitch Waxman: "Master photographer, historian, community leader, advocate for Newtown Creek and all things maritime. His sense of humor was legendary, and he was one of the most honest people I've ever met- possessed of an incontrovertible sense of right and wrong.

Photographer Jonathan Atkin: "Bernie: a colleague, a dear friend, a schmoozer; a story teller of the highest order. We covered deeply a range of mutually enjoyable topics from all aspects of NYC -- maritime of course, eats, Hasidic Jews, Newtown Creek, bridges, trains, historical photos of NYC, the art and business of photography, each other's noses, Judaica, pastrami, helicopters, and with his own refined sense of borscht belt humor of which he was a master."

Zhennya Slootskin of Going Coastal: "This has been a year of true loss for the waterfront. Bernie generously shared his photographs for Going Coastal's guidebook and his skills in helping me to become a better photographer."

Roland Lewis of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance: "Bernie's incredible talent as a photographer and love of the harbor was met by his generous spirit. For all sorts of Harbor-related efforts Bernie lent his artistry. MWA was the grateful recipient of many of these images, most memorably the rapturous faces of settlement housing kids enjoying the thrill of being on the water, on the John J. Harvey. That picture perfectly captured the spirit behind the MWA Waterfront Action Agenda and our mission. Bernie's untimely passing is a terrible loss to all who knew and loved him. We have his art and his memory as a lasting blessing."

John Doswell of the Working Harbor Committee: "Bernie brought his unique style and smile to everything he did - from his extraordinary photographs chronicling the growth of the Working Harbor Committee over the past 7 years, to his innovative and highly successful specialty tours: Newtown Creek, Rail to Water, Bridges, and Circumnavigation of Staten Island. And let us not forget his walking tours to explore those hard to reach places on our working waterfronts. 


Mary Habstritt of the Lilac Preservation Project: "Whenever I asked to use one of Bernie's photos to assist a preservation effort or illustrate a history, he never said no-he'd send a better, higher resolution one. It wasn't just that he was generous with his work, he really delighted in sharing it."

(back to top) 

  Photo by Bernard Ente


Colorful, Glossy, Perfect for the Fridge; Make Sure YOUR Event is Listed!
It's time to think about sending your summer event listings to MWA. Our bi-annual printed newsletter, due out in early June, will feature a four-color calendar of waterfront and on-water events taking place around the City in June, July and August. Deadline for sending listings is April 30. Click here to send event information. Thanks, and see you this summer on the water! (back to top)
 Play, Learn and Help Revitalize the Waterfront at this Free Event
CWD 2010 East River CREW tableCity of Water Day is a free day of entertainment, education and adventure produced by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance that City of Water Day 2008celebrates the potential of our waterfront. Hundreds of organizations participate, offering free boat rides, fishing, games, films, performances, readings, crafts and much more -- and thousands of people join in. On July 16, 2011, make your way to Governors Island and Liberty State Park for the 4th Annual City of Water Day Festival.

To find out more about City of Water Day, click here. Volunteer opportunities are available, especially for City of Water Day in Liberty State Park (New Jersey), when volunteers will be needed before, during and after the event. For all opportunities and to sign up, click here(back to top)
Expanding every week, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance is more than a coalition; it's a force. We are ferry captains, shipping executives, park directors, scientists, sailors, paddlers, swimmers, teachers, urban planners, architects and more. Together, we advocate for the best possible waterfront in the best possible city, a waterfront that is clean and accessible to all, with a robust maritime workforce and efficient, affordable waterborne transportation. Join us! Contact Louis Kleinman at

MWA extends a hearty welcome to these new partners, all of which joined on April 1, 2011
  • Fairway Market
    Groceries and provisions at affordable price.

  • Kayak and Canoe Club of NY 

    One of the largest whitewater clubs in the East, and despite the name, serving New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut as well as New York, where the club was formed in 1959. KCCNY features a whitewater paddling program with novice, intermediate, or expert trips planned for each weekend of the paddling season, though the die hards paddle year round!  

  • Oak Cliff Sailing 

    Oakcliff scholarships select 18-30 year old sailors, athletes who have shown aptitude in the sport and provide a development path towards excellence in national and international competition, sportsmanship and stewardship practices. Oakcliff hosts and sponsor national and international regattas. Oakcliff is open to the public via donation. Oakcliff provides training, coaching, and charters via donation to athletes, crews, and boat owners.

  • Tern Group

    Tern Group LLC, are leaders in environmentally responsible development, with a vision to create projects that are environmentally conscious, unconventional, and emphasize public transportation and individual mobility.  (back to top) 

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