The plant, a subsidiary of the Houston-based company U.S. Concrete, could open by the end of November in Red Hook’s city-designated industrial business zone.
Members of Community Board 6 are concerned that the plant, which abuts the playing fields of Red Hook Recreation Center and Ikea, will create air pollution that will prove detrimental to the neighborhood.
“People in Red Hook have been organizing around this for months now,” said Craig Hammerman, CB6’s district manager. Opponents of the plan have signed a petition and staged a protest rally against the project.
Despite operating next to the park, however, said Hammerman, the concrete plant is not breaking any rules. “One might not think it’s the best place for a concrete plant,” Hammerman said, “but the zoning does allow for a concrete plant.”
Even so, residents feel it's important to look deeper into how the plant could affect the ball fields, as well as the health and safety risks it could pose to children who play there, including the possibility of asthma attacks.
Community board member and Red Hook resident Lou Sones worries for other neighboring sites as well, such as Added Value, a non-profit organization promoting sustainability in Red Hook that operates an urban farm on a patch of land near the plant.
“It might put Added Value out of business,” said Sones. “If there is cement dust, Added Value will not be able to use that land.”
For the time-being, options to close the plant are limited, said CB6 Chairperson Richard Bashner, since there have not yet been any pollution complaints.
“It’s hard to shut something down on an anticipatory assessment that there will be a problem when there isn’t yet,” Bashner said. “The whole thing is maybe not quite ready for us to look at, but given how many people are concerned about it, it’s ready for us to start asking some questions.”
Mike Gentoso, U.S. Concrete’s Atlantic region vice president, told the New York Times the ready-mix plant will minimize harmful environmental impacts. “We don’t feel we will have an issue of dust,” Gentoso said.
Also at the meeting, community board members were also asked for any last-minute nominations for board officers for 2010. As none were offered, there will be no need for an election at the December meeting; the nominees presented in October were all unopposed.
Bashner will continue as chairperson, with Ray Lohier as the first vice chair, Nica Lalli as the second vice chair, David Reiss as treasurer, and Elly Spicer as secretary.