Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) and neighbors are calling for improvements at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal located at Pier 88/90 in Hell’s Kitchen. While acknowledging the recent agreement between the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and major cruise lines to address the environmental and community impacts of cruising, a letter sent by MCB4 after their full board meeting last week asks for faster timelines and more community input.
“MCB4 has long been on record for the City to recognize the urgent need to eliminate the hazardous emissions spewing from the cruise ships docked at Pier 90.” The board said in their letter. “The air in our district continually registers as some of the worst in New York City due in no small part to the ships’ giant carbon footprint left on our shores with each visit.”
The Board’s top priority is expediting the installation of shore power infrastructure, allowing cruise ships to plug into the electric grid while docked, instead of idling diesel engines. Upcoming developments will see the beginning of an $80 million upgrade to the Pier 90 service apron. This renovation includes the installation of comprehensive shore power infrastructure, which the community board urges to be expedited. With 60% of cruise ships already outfitted for shore power, they emphasized the urgency to create the connections well before the 2028 target set in EDC’s recent agreement.
“The need to speed up the timeline cannot be stressed enough,” the letter states. “We look forward to seeing the upcoming results of the Jacobs study [into shore power infastructure] along with Con Ed’s assessment on getting Pier 90 fully electric.”
Other requests from the board include more community input on using a new $1 per passenger Community Priority Fund, expected to generate $700,000 next year from the 235 cruise ship visits to the West Side terminal. The EDC plans to work with Council Member Erik Bottcher to organize the distribution of the money. The Board said in their letter that they want to ensure these dollars benefit organizations in Hell’s Kitchen near the terminal.
The letter also raises concerns about truck, bus and passenger vehicle traffic around the terminal during embarking and disembarking. The Board sees the EDC agreements as an opportunity to finally fix these long-standing transportation problems.
Far West Side neighbors joined in the appeals to fix the transportation issues around the cruise terminal. Annika Andersson, who lives near the terminal, said on Hell’s Kitchen Neighbors Facebook Group: “Lately, trucks have made a habit of overnighting on 12th Avenue along Clinton De Witt Park and Hudson River Park. They leave their engines on and stink up the whole park, the playground, the ball court, all the way across to where I am. I have asked them several times to turn off their engines, to no avail. My question is — do they have some special permission from the city to park by the ‘No Standing’ signs, block the bus stop, double park on the highway and leave their engines running for 10+ hours? If not, how do we stop them? Hell’s Kitcheners don’t have a lot of green areas to start, and I think it’s pretty disgusting to have them stink up the few green spots we do have.”
From W42ST’s observations over the past two years of the truck parking issue, each ship is serviced by up to 15 vehicles (especially the larger vessels from Norwegian and Disney). During the fall, up to three ships can be berthed at a time, which leads to trucks parking up to a day ahead of schedule anywhere they can find around the neighborhood — but mostly on the West Side Highway.
Although the City and State have strict laws about truck idling — “Idling is allowed when the engine is being used to power a loading device or a refrigeration unit.” Without inspection, it’s impossible to know whether a truck is idling to keep the cab warm/cool or the refrigeration active. The second activity appears to be legal…
In EDC’s recent presentation to the MCB4 Waterfronts, Parks and Environmental Committee, they shared that part of their new agreement with the cruise lines was to increase local provisioning. The cruise lines have committed “to develop a local vendor provisioning plan that creates contracting opportunities for NYC businesses that can be providers for goods and services associated with cruise operations at the Cruise Terminals.”