Today’s news:

Concrete man: trucks no problem

A few more trucks a day shouldn’t faze Red Hook residents, an executive with a concrete firm intent on opening a plant in the neighborhood said last week.

“The area already has a certain amount oftruck traffic — we would sort of fit in with the rest of the traffic,” assured Michael Gentoso, regional vice president with US Concrete, the publicly traded company planning to open a plant on a two-acre site at 640 Columbia Street, in the shadow of popular neighborhood ballfields, a local farm and an IKEA superstore.

As this newspaper reported back in June, those who have gotten wind of the plant’s arrival have expressed worry about truck traffic and pollution in a neighborhood already plagued with high asthma rates.

At a small afternoon meeting at the Red Hook Community Justice Center last week, the company insisted it would be an asset to the neighborhood, and promised to work with elected officials and local groups.

“We think we can alleviate any concerns,” Gentoso said afterwards.

Gentoso vowed the plant would keep a tight rein on dust, and would adhere to stringent safety requirements. “Particulate matter from the plant is extremely well controlled,” he said. The plant will be operated by Eastern Concrete Materials, a subsidiary of US Concrete, which has lost 64.2 percent of its stock value since August 2008.

According to a fact sheet distributed by the company, Eastern Concrete will operate a 24-hour business that could be adjusted by “customer and traffic patterns” in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Between 15 and 25 concrete trucks daily will rumble along existing routes on Columbia and Bay Streets, and deliveries will arrive at any time during the day.

The plant is also not being welcomed by local concrete businesses like Quadrozzi Concrete, whose president, John Quadrozzi, Jr., said US Concrete will likely disrupt a depressed, but nevertheless stable market, undercutting rivals to stake a claim in the lucrative region.

Gentoso said the company’s interest in the region is similar to its competition. “The reason we are here is why they are all here: proximity to Manhattan.”

“We have a marketing program we think will still give us pretty good business,” he said, adding that the focus will be the subsidiary’s environmentally friendly products.

The Texas-based firm has already hired the powerful lobbyist Capalino Company to presumably ease its entry into the neighborhood. The August 6 meeting was brokered by City Councilmember Sara M. González.

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