After hearing residents’ concerns, the Hoboken City Council approved a measure that will give the city the ability to use eminent domain on the Union Dry Dock property.
The ordinance was before the council days after a subsidiary of New York Waterway purchased the Union Dry Dock property for $11.5 million, with the intention of using it as a repair facility for its ferry fleet.
Resident Bonnie Murray was one of several who urged the council to preserve the waterfront.
“For the entire community, I urge you to preserve our waterfront: it’s our cherished asset here in Hoboken,” she began.
“I normally am not a fan of eminent domain, the implication it has on all our taxes, I also don’t like the idea of taking someone else’s property, but in this particular instance, I think it’s a logical step.”
Carrow Thibault, the secretary for the Fund for a Better Waterfront board, expressed concern about NJ Transitâ€™s potential involvement with the project.
“Nothing has changed since our protests in 2012: the current New York Waterway-NJ Transit proposal is still an alarming and dreadful plan,” said Thibault.
“Not because of it’s immediate proximity to a residential community, but because it will continue to be a crude blemish on one of Hoboken’s most beautiful places.”
Another resident, Kim Heisner, was nearly in tears when pleading for the council to keep the waterfront in tact.
Prior to the vote, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said that the community should reach out to the state regarding NJ Transitâ€™s role, as well as where New York Waterway should go.
We all need to walk out of the room and know who to reach out to in the state and do what we can to insist that they can to rethink this: not only New Jersey Transit’s involvement but, quite frankly, where New York Waterway should go,” exclaimed Fisher.
“They are being pushed out of Weehawken because Weehawken doesn’t want them. Well, have New York waterway go and use their power of eminent domain in Weehawken, take that property from the current land owner.”
1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco begrudgingly said he would support the ordinance, but said major financial decisions need to be made more carefully in the future.
The measure passed by a vote of 8-0-1, with Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla abstaining.
Back in October, the council passed the first reading of the ordinance by a vote of 8-1, with only 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo voting no.
However, they also approved a measure that pushed the second reading of the ordinance until after the November 7th municipal elections: Council President Jen Giattino, Councilmen-at-Large Ravi Bhalla, James Doyle and Dave Mello, as well as Bhalla and DeFusco were on the ballot.
That vote received a 6-3 tally, with Russo, Bhalla and Doyle voting no.