In the mid-90s the Port of New York and New Jersey was faced with a variety of strategic decisions involving container port leases, rail and vehicle transportation projects, dredging requirements, labor and environmental concerns, and the potential defection of large shipping companies from New York to other ports on the East Coast of the United States and Canada. Competing plans and concerns involved authorities and agencies of both states; the cities of New York, Newark, Bayonne, and Port Elizabeth; shipping and petroleum and rail industry associations; the International Longshoremen’s Association; U. S. and foreign shipping companies; the Environmental Protection Agency, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Vice President’s Office and other federal agencies; as well as citizens, community development, and environmental action groups.
Ms. Gray was asked by a consortium of interested constituencies to assess the situation and the decision-making dynamics, and to make recommendations to the parties involved. The engagement was sponsored by the Seamen’s Church Institute, an arm of the Episcopal Church, and managed through Conflict Management Group of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
At the conclusion of her assessment, there was general consensus among the parties that her diagnostic assessment of the situation and challenges was correct, and a more constructive discourse ensued. The ultimate decisions, made by the Governors of New York and New Jersey, were better informed.