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Borough Reacts to Cruise Ships

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Local residents and business owners generally had a good reaction to news that the cruise industry and their most infamous giant ship, the Queen Marry II will dock at Pier 12 in Red Hook. Those interviewed, however, also said that American Stevedoring Incorporated (ASI), the last maritime cargo ship operation in the borough, should be allowed to stay and prosper. ASI currently employs about 400 people and operates on Piers 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10. “I love it,” said Greg O’Connell, a long time Red Hook developer. “The idea that the Queen Mary is coming to Red Hook alone is astounding. Everybody thinks of Manhattan as the place. Now everybody will start thinking of Brooklyn and Red Hook as the go to place.” O’Connell, when he first came to Red Hook 30 years ago, said he had to fight to bring business to the area. “Now it will be known around the world and will be a major change for people here,” he said. O’Connell said there’s room to balance both the cruise industry and the ASI operation. “The working waterfront is exciting. I never tire from seeing cargo ships come into Red Hook to unload,” he said. ASI Spokesperson Matt Yates said he too is pleased with the announcement. “We are very pleased with the announcement. Cruise and containers are a perfect fit, just as they are in Miami and Fort Lauderdale,” said Yates. “The existing hundreds of jobs at the ASI container port will allow the additional maritime business [the] cruise [industry] brings to get maximum benefits for the Brooklyn water front. We truly can have our cake and eat it too,” he added. Steve Deptula, owner of the Liberty Heights Tap Room, 34 Van Dyke Street, said cruise ships coming to Red Hook should have been done a long time ago. “The Ikea should have been done a long time ago and it looks like the Fairway [supermarket] is starting,” said Deptula. “It’s about time for the cruise ship line.” Red Hook Civic Association co-chair John McGettrick said while he remains opposed to the Ikea in the neighborhood, the cruise industry represents a tremendous opportunity for the community. “We’re hoping it will serve as a catalyst for the long overdue commercial and residential revitalization of Red Hook,” said McGettrick, adding the cruise industry will also provide good jobs for residents in the community. Steve Tarpin, who owns Authentic Key Lime Pies said it won’t affect his business one way or the other. “Red Hook is a divided community with very divergent opinions,” said Tarpin. “For those it affects directly it’s good for them, but for those who feel they will be stepped on, it won’t be. As for me, I don’t care.” Former Olympic gold medallist track star, Diane Dixon, who was born and raised in Brooklyn and currently lives near the piers in Cobble Hill, said the Queen Mary coming is great - but had a suggestion. “They should give free passes to the residents as a welcome home to Red Hook and also slash their prices, because they are docking near an affordable housing complex,” said Dixon. “They should have affordable housing prices and then they can dock all they want.”

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