Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver (D) joined NY Waterway officials to christen the the Susan B. Anthony ferry, where she also said that she believes the private transportation company will ultimately end up using Union Dry Dock in Hoboken.
In her remarks during the ceremony before the christening, the lieutenant governor spoke about the legendary women’s rights activist.
“She was an inspiration for all of us. The women wearing white today are honoring the suffragettes who wore white in the 19th century demonstrated that one day they would have the right to vote, and do we now have the right to vote,” began Oliver.
“We know the U.S. Mint made the Susan B. Anthony dollar, but never in her wildest dreams did Susan B. Anthony ever think there would be a NY Waterway ferry named after her.”
She also credited NY Waterway’s Chairman and CEO, Arthur Imperatore, for having the vision back in the 1980s, after the waterfront’s de-industrialization when many maritime companies and freight railroads ceased operations, that the Hudson County coast would be redeveloped and create a need to move people back and forth to New York City.
“I know what was here before the Gold Coast was created. Mr. Imperatore and his family had the vision to know that ferry traffic on the river would be something of the future. NY Waterway has become a major commuter hub, and we’ve been able to broaden our economy, expand residential living and have recreation on the waterfront and NY Waterway has been at the center of that,” said Oliver.
She was joined also by state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), who paid credence to both Anthony’s legacy for women’s rights and Imperatore’s vision.
“Thank you Mr. Imperatore for inviting me here today because I have had a vast public career, but I must say that this is the first ship christening I ever been to, so thank you for adding another first to my career,” said Weinberg.
Imperatore spoke at length too, and he wasted no time by telling the crowd that because NY Waterway’s mechanics work under difficult conditions to maintain NY Waterway’s rigorous ferry schedule, the company is looking forward to moving into its new home at the Union Dry Dock site in Hoboken soon.
“We’re trying to ameliorate those difficult conditions by finally getting control and possession of our own property at Union Dry Dock. I hope I live long enough to accomplish that mission,” said Imperatore.
However, there is plenty of opposition by Hoboken elected officials, residents and environmentalists to that idea.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla has vehemently opposed such a project from day 1 and called for beginning new eminent domain proceedings last month.
Furthermore, the matter is currently embroiled in litigation that was filed by NY Waterway and a judge is set to hear the matter within the next week.
In an on-camera interview as the Susan B. Anthony made its maiden voyage to Union Dry Dock, we had a chance to ask Oliver about the prospect of NY Waterway establishing a ferry maintenance and refueling station at the site.
“I am [confident]. It is getting increasingly difficult for people to travel and to commute, and having the opportunity to do this through Hoboken, it is going to happen,” said Oliver.
We followed up by asking about the environmental concerns of Hobokenites that would prefer to see Union Dry Dock turned into an open waterfront park.
“I think that compromise can be had, and I think that with all sides sitting around the table, we will come up with something that works for everyone,” Oliver stated.
City spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri said that Oliver’s remarks do not change anything about how the administration feels about Union Dry Dock.
“As we’ve said before, Mayor Bhalla is confident Governor Murphy will be on the right side of public policy and allow Hoboken to acquire Union Dry Dock for the purpose of a public park and open space, as opposed to a heavy refueling depot,” he said.
“Any assertion that this dispute relates to maintaining mass transit in the region has already been established as a myth because we now know that New York Waterway owns the property where they currently operate. Their ‘eviction fiction’ takes this claim out of the conversation.