Watch a video on Baker Street Park's opening
It’s no secret that the playground equipment for the new Baker Street Park in Long Beach was made possible with the help of a $100,000 donation from Long Beach Container Terminal, a tenant at the Port of Long Beach since 1986.
But what isn’t well known is that LBCT and its parent company, Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd., paid for the contribution with money OOCL saved from participating in the Port’s Green Flag/Vessel Speed Reduction Program. The program offers shipping lines a discount on dockage fees if they voluntarily slow at least 90 percent of their vessels when entering and leaving the harbor over the course of a calendar year. OOCL ships have maintained nearly 100 percent compliance since the voluntary program began in 2005.
In other words, LBCT and OOCL did “the right thing” with savings they earned by doing the right thing in the first place.
“Reducing ship speeds to cut emissions was right regardless of whether it came with an incentive,” said Anthony Otto, president of LBCT, who joined community members and city and county officials for the park’s May 4 grand opening celebration. “We decided to take that savings and reinvest it in the community.”
“Instead of pocketing the money and walking away, OOCL generously gave Long Beach residents a much-needed green space,” said Mayor Bob Foster. “A new park means that people will have more opportunities to be active and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. This invaluable investment in the community will benefit generations to come.”
Doing what’s right is the norm for LBCT and OOCL. LBCT, which has embraced green practices for nearly a decade, was an early participant in a number of Long Beach’s Green Port programs, such as retrofitting and replacing yard equipment with the cleanest available technology and helping the Port test new systems, including the first hybrid diesel-electric yard tractor, a rubber-tire gantry crane with regenerative power capability, and the first yard tractors powered by liquefied natural gas used at the Port.
In 2012, OOCL signed a $4.6 billion, 40-year lease to operate Middle Harbor, which when complete will be the most technologically advanced and greenest terminal in North America. The terms include environmental covenants that exceed state requirements, such as plugging in container ships at berth to shore power 100 percent of the time when the terminal is fully operational, equipping OOCL vessels with pollution reduction systems such as slide valve technology, and minimizing idling for trucks at the terminal.
OOCL’s own $500 million investment in Middle Harbor includes 14 new ship-to-shore cranes and 70 stacking cranes, believed to be the largest one-time purchase of container-handling equipment for any terminal at a U.S. port. The equipment is fully electrified, said Otto. “We’re cutting emissions to zero wherever possible.”
The Port is investing $1.2 billion in the new state-of-the-art terminal, whose features include shore power infrastructure, more efficient on-dock rail, solar panels for clean generation of electricity, and green (LEED-certified) buildings. Construction to create a modern 304-acre facility from two older terminals is ongoing and due to be completed in 2019.
The newly opened 1.25-acre Baker Street Park sits in the heart of Wrigley Heights, a residential neighborhood near the intersection of two major freeways (the 710 and 405) that are key routes for drayage trucks moving to and from the harbor district. The project was also made possible by Los Angeles County, which contributed $500,000 in park funds.
The park, whose amenities include picnic areas, a universally accessible playground and a walking path, is one of three projects to benefit from the commitment of LBCT and OOCL to reinvest its savings in the local community. In 2008, the terminal operator and its parent company donated $40,000 to fund a middle school computer lab at Hudson K-8 School and a language lab at Poly High’s Pacific Rim Academy.
The ripple effect has been closer ties between the community and LBCT, which is sponsoring a year-end PTA cultural festival at Birney Elementary School, attended by many of the children who live in the Baker Street Park neighborhood. LBCT also benefits because so many of those who work at the terminal live in the harbor area.
“The Port of Long Beach has done a lot to reduce emissions, and business is part of the solution,” Otto said. “Supporting the community in which we work and live is part of our corporate values, and LBCT and OOCL are happy to play a leadership role.”