Counsel for Fund for a Better Waterfront says Hoboken’s Union Dry Dock lease is invalid


In a letter to the Hoboken mayor and city council, counsel for the Fund for a Better Waterfront says Hoboken’s Union Dry Dock lease is invalid since property acquired through the Open Space Trust Fund can only be done so via referendum, though the city disagrees.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Notwithstanding FBW’s misgivings about the terms of the lease, we are writing to you at this time to inform you that pursuant to Hoboken’s ordinance governing the use of, and
properties acquired with OSTFs [Open Space Trust Funds], the sale or lease of such property — i.e., a diversion of the property from its dedicated open space and recreational use — is not valid until approved by the voters of Hoboken in a referendum election,” Renee Steinhagen, of NJ Appleseed, wrote on Tuesday.

She cites municipal code S55-3, which specifically addresses the sale of property that was purchased via OSTFs, as her reasoning.

“No property acquired with funds from the Trust Fund shall be leased or sold, unless action has been authorized by the Mayor and City Council and by referendum in the manner prescribed by law,” the code says.

“The deed of any property acquisition with funds from the Trust Fund shall contain the specific notation reflecting that the property was acquired with funds from the Trust Fund, and are subject to the limitations contained herein.”

Steinhagen continues that the FBW would like to work with the city on presenting an accurate and easily understandable referendum in a timely fashion, as well as to collaborate on ensuring that the Maritime Park is built without a hitch.

” … We would welcome the opportunity to discuss with the City Council and the Mayor additional legislative and other actions the City could take to assure the public that this lease is in fact a temporary diversion, and that the City is committed to establishing, at the end of the five-years, the public park promised the voters of Hoboken and the court when it exercised eminent domain and deployed OSTF to acquire the property for public purposes.”

Last month, the Hoboken City council voted in favor of leasing Union Dry Dock to New York Waterway in hopes of connecting their waterfront and building Maritime Park.

At the same meeting, Dattner Architects received a $1,174,146.90 contract to create the design.

FBW members questioned the terms of the lease, particularly that NY Waterway would have nearly two thirds of the property to use as a ferry refueling and maintenance site, with the open space being less than an acre.

Vijay Chaudhuri, Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s chief of staff, indicated that the city is confident that the temporary lease, which is for three years with a two-year option, is up to par as is.

“We are confident that the interim lease for a portion of the property, required to balance the needs of Hoboken residents that rely on the ferry with the ultimate goal of a public park, has been fully vetted and is valid.”

On Wednesday, the Weehawken Town Council voted unanimously to begin preliminary studies to acquire a walkway at the site of their NY Waterway ferry maintenance terminal at 4800 Avenue at Port Imperial, making eminent domain a possibility, as HCV first reported.

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  1. Ron Hine and his band of stooges are in way over their head. Not only are they making arguments that help Weehawken’s attempt to move all operations to Union Dry Dock, but it seems they are intentionally sabotaging City’s ability to actually own the land and enter into a temporary.

    Maybe it is time for Ron to Retire.

  2. A referendwhatnow?!

    Granted, the BOE tried to sneak one by the voters, but at least they didn’t break the law. And this was all the BOE and Mayor Buraee and her henchmen knew absolutely nothing about this new high school that she campaigned on and was planned for years. Therefore, they couldn’t provide any public landing strips for awareness/discussion.

    Should we have this referenwhatnow on the November ballot? Probably not. Let’s hold it on July 4, in-person voting only, to encourage voter turnout.

  3. Pay no attention to his “over my dead body” promise, those pesky “laws,” and incoming FBW lawsuit and come on down to the Hoboken High School* this Tuesday to provide input which we will *really* want to hear about an appeasement park or something!

    Honestly, this Diesel Refueling Park is – big gulp – *totally* happening in 2028 just like the refurbished pool at the YMCA, brand new municipal complex (also with a pool), and my holding PSEG accountable for the recent water main break! I mean, how could it not? Has the mayor ever lied to you?? COVID something, masks and vaccines, and trust the science. See?!

    Honestly, the mayor really cannot wait to hear from each of you so he can totally 100% absolutely positively make sure the photos he sent out in his recent taxpayer funded self promotional booklet look just as fake and empty as your ability either remember what he promised last month or think critically!

    So be sure to come on down to the decrepit old high school this Tuesday! And bring your precious little ones for drag queen indoctrination hour, free gender reassignment assessments, and Spin 101! Take this opportunity to hear from the mayor himself on how great he truly is, his pipe dream Smoke-and-Mirrors Park, and why you should vote for a white man (John Allen) for whom we forced out Latina (Annette Chaparro)!

    If he’s not too busy with his other job this week, the mayor may even stick around to humor you lovable gullible peasants by pretending to care about your input for the world class Mirage Park!

    Also, the COVID death count is and remember…monkeypox!

    *The Hoboken High School is the one where the mayor doesn’t send his own daughter yet tried to promote its merits and “strike while the iron was hot” to improve our property value by spending $330M of your tax dollars to build a new athletic complex.