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Red Hook residents and merchants who have been eagerly awaiting the results of a major city-sponsored study on the future of the working waterfront will have a lot longer to wait.

Maybe, forever.

Officials with the city Economic Development Corp., which co-sponsored with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey the $400,000 taxpayer-funded study of the best uses for Piers 6-12, said they will not release the results to the public.

Michael Sherman, an EDC spokesman, told The Brooklyn Papers, “There are no such plans at the moment,” when asked about the study’s release.

“It was always just going to be for our internal use,” he said, adding that an executive summary or “highlights” of the study might be released “at some point.”

“Our thinking is that we’re just using the information to clarify our position on the piers,” Sherman said.

A study on the feasibility of bringing the cruise ship industry to one or more of the Brooklyn docks will also meet the same fate, Sherman said.

That news came as a shock to the many community groups and elected officials who have continually criticized the study’s consultants, Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler, saying they ignored community input throughout the process and came in with a preconceived agenda to squeeze the working ship port out.

Results of that study, which community members were led to believe would be made public, were originally to be released last August but were repeatedly pushed back.

“By denying access to this important information that was gathered with taxpayer money, the EDC has blocked the public from making its own decision about the future of the port,” said Evan Thies, a spokesman for Councilman David Yassky, chairman of the Waterfront Committee.

The Brooklyn Papers this week drafted a Freedom of Information Act request asking that EDC turn over a copy of the study.

“I think that will come as news to all of us who participated in what we thought was a transparent and public process,” said Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6.

Asked about EDC and the Port Authority using the study only for “internal use,” Hammerman said, “I think they would be hard pressed to find a soul from this end of the world who ever heard that statement uttered.”

Community Board 6 has advocated for continued maritime use on the piers, which straddle the Columbia Street Waterfront District and Red Hook waterfront from Atlantic Avenue down to Pioneer Street.

As for community input, the board, which represents Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, the Columbia Street district, Gowanus, Park Slope and Red Hook, called the public participation process “crucially flawed” in a report issued last October.

“I guess they didn’t release it because it’s an incomplete study,” said Sal Catucci, owner of American Stevedoring, which operates a container port out of all but one of those piers.

“It’s just a sham,” said Catucci, who clashed with John Alschuler, the lead consultant on the project, at several of the public meetings.

In response to growing interest in the piers from potential tenants, the Port Authority issued a request for proposals last year to explore other options for the property.

The piers study kicked off last summer, supposedly in time to determine the future of the piers before Catucci’s lease ran out. But that lease expired on April 30 and the company is currently still negotiating with the city for an extension.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district cuts across from Manhattan to Brooklyn and includes the piers, also criticized the study.

“We disagreed with a lot of the premises on which the study was started,” said Robert Gottheim, Nadler’s Brooklyn director of operations.

From the beginning Nadler, a working waterfront proponent, criticized the city for embarking on the study instead of negotiating with American Stevedoring for a new lease.


Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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