Although the Hoboken council voted unanimously to use eminent domain as a last resort to acquire Union Dry Dock last month, they rescinded that measure yesterday to prevent NJ Transit from purchasing the property.
While NJ Transit cancelled an emergency meeting where they would have purchased Union Dry Dock and leased it to NY Waterway yesterday, they weren’t prepared to drop the issue completely until Hoboken’s governing body backed off on acquiring the property.
Representatives from Governor Phil Murphy’s (D) Office, NJ Transit and NY Waterway were present for the council meeting, eager to see how the council would vote on the eminent domain measure.
Before the vote, several council members spoke about the ongoing drama over the fate of Union Dry Dock, with 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher going so far as to say that NY Waterway is holding the state of New Jersey hostage.
“We’re in a very tough situation, and I’d like to personally say that NY Waterway seems to be holding the entire state hostage over this. That being said, my understanding is that NJ Transit is actively looking at other sites and working with all interested parties to try to come up with a solution that’ll benefit the community,” said Fisher.
The councilwoman also showed no sympathy for NY Waterway’s predicament where they have to vacate their Weehawken headquarters by June 1st.
“NY Waterway made a bad decision by selling their Weehawken property before finding an alternative location and now Hoboken is being pressured to accommodate them,” Fisher said.
After the vote, Hudson County View interviewed NY Waterway Chairman Armand Pohan for his reaction to the council’s decision.
“We’re very pleased and relived that the council has taken this step. It really enables a more sensible and open dialogue. We have some creative ideas for the joint use of the property so that we can stay there and allow for public access,” said Pohan.
“It’s hard to have a constructive dialogue when everybody thinks that somebody has a gun to somebody’s head. The council doesn’t want NJ Transit to have a gun to its head, and we don’t want the council to have a gun to our head, so I think [tonight’s vote] opens up the possibility over the next few weeks for more sensible dialogue by all parties.”
With Murphy now involved in negotiations to resolve the ongoing dispute, coupled with the announcement last month by Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis that the city is accepting bids for a commuter ferry operator, many believe that if NY Waterway were to move to Union Dry Dock, it would only be temporary.
We therefore asked Pohan if there’s still a good chance that NY Waterway will be able to maintain ferries in Hoboken.
“Well, nobody right now has come up with any alternative place for us to go in the short term. So I’m quite optimistic that we’ll be able to get in there for the short term on a ready move-in basis to Union Dry Dock,” Pohan explained.
According to NJ Transit’s website, they made good on their word and cancelled today’s special meeting following last night’s vote by the Hoboken council.