Although they are squaring off in the November municipal elections, Hoboken Council President Jen Giattino and Cristen Cricco-Powell are both on board with Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s plan to execute eminent domain on Union Dry Dock.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“We cannot to go backwards to the industrial waterfront of my childhood. We must prevent New York Waterway from from constructing a refueling depot,” Cricco-Powell said in a statement.
“I ask the entire City Council to vote for Mayor Bhalla’s proposal to purchase the property by eminent domain at the Aug. 7 Council meeting. It’s our last best hope to do it.”
Cricco-Powell continued that she is on board with many many residents who wish to see the Union Dry Dock property remain part of an open green space plan.
At the end of 2017, in the heat of a 6-person mayoral contest, incumbent Dawn Zimmer had been pushing the council to vote on using eminent domain.
According to Cricco-Powell, that vote was pushed due to politics and history cannot repeat itself this time around.
“This time it’s vital that Councilwoman Giattino and the rest of the Council get it right. This is about the future of our town and what we want Hoboken to be,” she added.
Giattino, first elected to the council in 2011, characterized herself as a “steadfast advocate” of Union Dry Dock and looks forward to voting yes on the measure in front of the council on Wednesday.
“Protecting our waterfront as open public space has been and still remains a top priority for me and I have been a steadfast advocate against the Union Dry Dock project for almost a decade. Immediately after I was elected to the City Council in 2011, I fought to have the location added to our Open Space Trust plan, despite lacking support from the administration at the time,” she said in her own statement.
“Our fight against plans for the Union Dry Dock has not been easy and we have relied on legal counsel to ensure we approach this matter in the most responsible way. I am committed to building a complete and public waterfront and looking forward to working with the mayor in this next step against the [New York Waterway] Union Dry Dock proposal.”
In March 2018, the council voted to acquire Union Dry Dock for $11.6 million, but they rescinded the city’s ability to use eminent domain the following month.
Bhalla called for the council to again attempt the eminent domain process in mid-June.
The battle over the property has pitted the city against NY Waterway in recent years, since they would prefer to use the waterfront site as a ferry refueling and maintenance station.
Their lawsuit against the city that hoped to allow them to circumvent local zoning and land use laws was dismissed one week ago, though that outcome was largely overshadowed by the fact that an attorney in the matter compared Hoboken police to the “gestapo.”
He later apologized for making such a comparison, noting that he has the utmost respect for law enforcement.