In Hoboken, approximately 500 people rallied and marched along Frank Sinatra Drive – from Pier A Park to Union Dry Dock – to send a message to Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to preserve the property to complete a waterfront park.
It’s been almost a year since the governor has weighed in on the issue, but after the march halted at Union Dry Dock Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said that his office has been in constant communication with Murphy’s office over whether the property will become part of a waterfront park or the new home of NY Waterway’s refueling facility.
“I want to commend Governor Murphy, he has been an advocate for the environment. He has been an advocate for banning offshore drilling to protect our coastline, he deserves applause for that,” Bhalla began.
” … So I want to extend my gratitude to the governor because he has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that he stands with Hoboken and protects his record as a champion of the environment … I know Governor Murphy will have our back in this battle, believe me.”
After the program concluded, we caught up with the mayor to ask him if he expects the governor to make a public decision soon.
“No, Governor Murphy’s office has been a facilitator of productive discussions so that we can hopefully reach an amicable resolution. One option for the state of New Jersey is to simply respect home rule and let the process run its course, and that might be an outcome as well. But we don’t expect an announcement soon.”
Bhalla also emphasized that he’s not aware of any forthcoming decision and “I really can’t speak to that one way or the other.”
We followed up about why are the discussions proving to be protracted.
“I think a big challenge is trying to find an alternative to this property that would meet the interests of both the residents of Hoboken and the public interest, the environment, public safety, preserving the waterfront, as well as meeting the regional and mass transportation piece that is facilitated through ferry mass transit operations. So an alternate location is something that is being pursued actively,” Bhalla said.
A new development in the discussions, according to Bhalla, is to separate NY Waterway’s operations.
“There is a possibility of decoupling the uses. For example, having a refueling facility at one location and a maintenance repair facility at another location. So we’re looking at all possibilities, but we definitely know for sure that there are other possibilities other than Union Dry Dock,” Bhalla said.
NY Waterway obtained a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in December to move their ferry refueling and maintenance station to Union Dry Dock, but the process is ongoing as they also received a stop work order from the city last month.
Bhalla was joined by multiple speakers at the foot of the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, including Annette Chaparro, Hoboken Assemblywoman (D-33), who, pointing towards the lone NY Waterway ferry that was docked, said…..
“We do not need that. That is ugly. We don’t want it. This piece of the waterfront belongs to us. I will fight with Mayor Bhalla and the Council, and I believe the Governor is with us, and this is not going to end with that going to stay there,” she exclaimed.
Additionally, FBW Executive Director Ron Hine gave us his take on how Murphy can navigate this situation if he is so inclined.
“It would be very simple. There’s two studies that have been completed that show far more suitable sites for where this ferry maintenance facility can go. All they have to do is pick one of those. The Union Dry Dock site is absolutely the wrong place to put it.”
We streamed the entire rally and march live on our Facebook Page, which can viewed below: