Investigation of stowaway claims in Port Newark turns up empty

Stowaways Suspected In Container Ship Docked In NJ
I opened this link dreading a scene from Season 2 of The Wire, but after a full day of searching, no evidence of stowaways has been found.

Dock workers rushed to unload stacked containers from a cargo ship that arrived in New Jersey from the Middle East on Wednesday after a Coast Guard inspection team heard knocking for about two hours that suggested stowaways might be inside one of the boxes.

More than a dozen ambulances and law enforcement officials met the 850-foot Ville D’Aquarius when it docked early Wednesday at Port Newark, one of the nation’s busiest ports. Large mechanical cranes began unloading containers from the ship.

By midday Wednesday, all but one ambulance had quietly left the pier. Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe said officials have inspected 80 of the 200 containers authorities believe could be carrying people. The ship has 2,000 containers altogether.

Update: Search at Port Newark is completed, no stowaways found

Newark Competes with NYC for Produce Distro

The city is actively courting the Hunts Point wholesale produce market, offering incentives to move its warehousing facilities into the Port: New Jersey lures Hunts Point market. If successful, Newark could see upwards of 8,000 jobs moved into the city limits — though it’s unclear how any of those might be available for Newarkers. New York gets 70% of its fruit and produce through the $2 billion a year operation.

Moving might make it harder to serve Long Island customers, market officials say, but would lead to much lower construction and operation costs – even before Newark sweetens the pot with incentives.

“They want us so badly, whatever we want, they’ll give us,” said Myra Gordon, executive director for administration at the market. “My sense is that because of the money available through [Newark’s government], we could probably give them a wish list and get it approved.”

New York is trying to counter Newark’s effort, though Economic Development Corp. President Seth Pinsky would not provide details. “I think we can reach an agreement,” Pinsky predicted. “We’ve got a great location, and I think that in a distribution business, location is key.”

The market handles up to 70% of the fruits and vegetables New Yorkers eat, and is responsible for 8,000 jobs and $2 billion in annual business.

Council proposes container taxation

Council proposes container taxation
As the city seeks to derive between $2 and $4 million in tax revenues from “parked” shipping containers in Port Newark, it’s unclear if Newark residents who live with the view of the containers day in and day out will actually see relief.

The city is seeking to charge shipping companies about a quarter per container, with escalating fees if they remain for more than 30 days, not to exceed 75¢. Stefan Pryor, Newark deputy mayor for economic development, states that the city hopes to clear the land for economic development, but is quoted in the article as saying, “If the container depot is thriving and wants to remain in place, we respect and support that.”

On the outskirts of Port Newark, in the gritty, industrial section of Newark, sit stacks of orange, gray and blue containers that blend into the city’s landscape.

The containers haul millions of dollars of furniture, beer, clothing, paper and other commodities to and from the region every year. But for Newark, the empty ones that linger there for months are potential cash cows that are taking up prime real estate.

Two weeks ago, Assemblywoman Grace Spencer and Assemblyman Albert Coutinho introduced legislation that would authorize Newark to impose a tax on empty shipping containers that sit for more than 30 days. The bill is similar to a proposal that former mayor and state senator Sharpe James introduced in 2004.

“If a parcel of land were to contain a structure instead of containers, that structure would have real estate taxes,” said Stefan Pryor, Newark deputy mayor for economic development. “If it had a surface parking lot, you would have a parking tax and have parking revenue. If containers are parked on a parcel, the city currently yields no revenue other than the land taxes.”

We Don’t Need Permission: The Port

The Port
Interesting opinion piece on how Port Newark might affect Newark’s economic future. Booker has stated in several venues that he sees the port as an underutilized asset in Newark’s development. Sharif points out that it will take careful attention to bring the port out from under the control of an opaque bureaucracy.

Port Newark is the city’s most significant asset and Newarkers know little or nothing of its potential. Most have not even seen it up close. Its inner workings are cloaked in plain sight. As a result it is being largely mismanaged.

Over the next ten years Port Newark will grow dramatically with or without the help or direction of Newark residents and leaders. It is so large, rich and important to commerce in our region that development will be driven by growth, which is running on automatic. But that development might not be smart or best for Newark and its residents.