Bayonne council pres. won’t support eminent domain, wants to negotiate BMC deal with HRH

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Bayonne Council President Sharon Nadrowski said this evening that she won’t support a $95 million eminent domain plan to acquire the local medial center land from Hudson Regional Hospital, instead favoring negotiating a deal with them.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“HRH has agreed to preserve Bayonne Hospital at no cost to the city taxpayers. They provided a letter indicating a willingness to drop any litigation related to the rezoning of property. This is important because it is through zoning that the city controls what uses are allowed on the property,” she said in a statement this evening.

“Additionally, HRH has agreed to enter into negotiations with Bayonne to give us a right of first refusal which means if they decide to sell the property or change its use, we can buy it. There is still a lot of details to be worked out, but this is an opportunity for us to save the hospital and protect the taxpayers.”

Nadrowski further stated that since this could all be done with no additional cost to city taxpayers, she will make a motion tomorrow evening to reject the eminent domain plan in favor of authorizing the city’s special counsel to negotiate an agreement with HRH as outline in their May 4th letter addressed to her.

“We save the hospital and do not put taxpayers at risk – it is a win-win for Bayonne. My only concern is protecting the hospital not picking who gets to run it. History has taught us that the government should not be in the hospital business. Hopefully, both sides will be able to sit down, stop suing each other and figure this out.”

Her remarks come after BMC Hospital LLC said earlier today that they’ll cover the City of Bayonne’s debt service if the council approves the second reading of the two related eminent domain ordinances at tomorrow’s meeting.

β€œIt is our intention to see that no additional financial burden will be placed on the taxpayers of Bayonne if eminent domain goes through and we operate the hospital,” the organization said in a statement.

“We believe eminent domain is the only way for the city to secure the long-term stability of Bayonne Medical Center and ensure that wealthy landowners can never destabilize health care for thousands of patients again simply because they want to maximize profits. If taxpayers own the land, then the taxpayers decide.”

BMC Hospital and Hudson Regional Hospital have been fighting over who will operate the Bayonne Medical Center, still currently run by CarePoint Health, since June and neither has made any significant headway.

As a result, the Secaucus-based hospital has embarked on an aggressive mail and digital campaign pushing back against eminent domain, also sending out an assurance notice to employees at the medical center indicating they would not be let go.

This evening, HRH CEO Dr. Nizar Kifaieh thanked Nadrowski for her support and said he hopes her council colleagues do the same.

” … The dialogue over the future of Bayonne Medical Center has always been about securing acute care services for Bayonne residents in perpetuity, and we have committed to operate an esteemed hospital at Bayonne Medical Center or provide the City with the opportunity to purchase the property from us,” he said in a statement.

There has never been a rationale for using eminent domain when we have been eager to bring our unique benefits to the community without public funding, and we will make Bayonne proud as we make Secaucus proud of our support of the community and its healthcare needs. We hope the council is similarly enthusiastic about our capacity to provide a healthcare solution for Bayonne as both property owner and hospital operator.”

The other four members of the city council did not immediately return inquiries seeking comment, while Mayor Jimmy Davis has come out in favor in eminent domain.

The Bayonne council will convene tomorrow at 7 p.m. in their first meeting that allows in-person participation since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

Due to an increased interest in the public session, the location has been moved from City Hall to the high school auditorium and those who wish to attend can still sign up here.