Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla explained the city’s position on temporarily leasing Union Dry Dock to New York Waterway, noting that the main objective is to build a contiguous waterfront park, not to turn a profit.
“To put it simply, our primary objective is not to generate revenue on a short-term lease. Our primary objective … is to acquire this property for the purpose of a public park at a negotiated and ‘locked-in’ price,” he wrote in an over 2,600-word Nixle alert that was also posted on the city’s website.
“Secondarily, we recognize, appreciate, and value the legitimate interest of the State of New Jersey and NYWW to continue operating a viable ferry service in furtherance of mass transit in the region. With a growing population, and a ferry fleet that needs to be expanded in order to continue serving the region, the current plans NYWW has to expand its ferry infrastructure (at a site outside of Hoboken) are critical to NYWW’s long-term viability.”
Earlier this month, Bhalla also turned to Nixle to explain the terms of the lease that the city council approved on first reading earlier this month, noting that it’s guaranteed for three years, with the possibility to extend it another two if NY Waterway still doesn’t have a viable alternative.
The Mile Square City mayor also said that he realized that residents still had questions since then, such as why the lease is only a $4,573 a month, what happens if NY Waterway can’t find another location after five years, and if Hoboken Terminal was still being considered as a long-term option.
“If these two additional years were warranted and requested by NYWW, even if the expansion at the conclusion of the additional two years was not completed, NYWW would be required to vacate Union Dry Dock at the end of two years (and a total of five) no matter the circumstance, a hard line that we insisted on that incentivizes NYWW to complete their expansion elsewhere on a timely basis,” he wrote.
” … The development of NYWW’s operations at a singular location, outside of Hoboken, was a policy decision made by the Governor’s office and communicated to me directly. In short, Hoboken is “off the table” for NYWW’s expansion, a major victory for our residents.”
At a press conference in November 2018, where Bhalla insisted that NYWW would only be allowed to build maintenance, operations, and refueling facilities “over my dead body,” the terminal was deemed the “ideal location,” Bayonne rated second, and the Binghamton Ferry site in Edgewater rated third.
Another concern addressed was the possibility of NJ Transit exercising eminent domain, as Hoboken tried several times, on the Union Dry Dock property once a new governor is elected in 2025.
Bhalla said that isn’t of much concern since the groundbreaking on the first phase of the new park is expected in 2025, prior to the next governor taking office in 2026. He also indicated that he did not think the lease would slow down the creation of the park.
Tomorrow, the council will consider a finalizing the lease, as well as approving a $1.2 million contract with Dattner Architects, who primarily operates out of Manhattan and designed Midtown Manhattan’s western waterfront.
The governing body convenes tomorrow at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 94 Washington St., and will also stream live on the city’s Facebook page.
These latest developments are taking place as the city tries to avoid litigation with neighboring Weehawken, where NYWW’s current ferry maintenance facility is located.