Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla is calling for a new eminent domain process to acquire the Union Dry Dock property, where New York Waterway is aiming to host their ferry refueling and maintenance station.
“Unfortunately, months have gone by without any movement on a compromise solution that would prevent a heavy refueling station at Union Dry Dock,” Bhalla said in a statement.
“At the same time, New York Waterway has broken a promise to hold back while negotiations continue, by putting forward meritless lawsuit against the City in an effort to immediately start building a heavy refueling station.
To this end, I believe that it is time to once again begin eminent domain proceedings. This morning, the city appraiser was granted access to Union Dry Dock to come up with an updated appraisal of the property. This is a necessary and required first step to bring back eminent domain proceedings before the City Council to directly acquire the land.”
The city had previously offered to purchase the property for $11.6 million and released an engineering study that pegged the Lackawanna Terminal as an alternative site for NY Waterway.
Pat Smith, a spokesman for NY Waterway, showed optimism that they would still acquire the waterfront property in the 2nd Ward even if eminent domain proceedings move forward.
“We have dealt with this issue before and remain confident that New Jersey’s leaders will
continue to recognize the critical role Union Dry Dock plays in assuring NY Waterway
will be able to provide essential commuting and emergency service,” he said.
Activists and groups, including the Fund for a Better Waterfront, have called on Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to step in and preserve the property for the Mile Square City, but thus far he has not publicly weighed in on the issue.
Bhalla expressed frustration over this fact, noting that a lack of cooperation in Trenton has left the city little choice but to again execute eminent domain.
“Negotiations are a two-way street, and my administration has gone above and beyond to accommodate the requests of the Governor’s office. However, given the lack of progress, we must protect the interests of the City of Hoboken,” Bhalla stated.
“Now is the time to once again begin eminent domain proceedings so we don’t lose the opportunity to transform Union Dry Dock into a public, waterfront park for good.”
Additionally, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said she supports the mayor’s decision.
“This is make or break for Hoboken’s waterfront. I don’t envy Mayor Bhalla’s position on UDD and Monarch, but am very thankful and happy to stand with him as he continues to fight for us on both,” she said.