As the City of Hoboken moves forward to execute eminent domain on Union Dry Dock, two separate NJ Transit studies indicate that the waterfront property is the best site for a New York Waterway ferry refueling and maintenance station.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“A fueling and maintenance facility at Hoboken Terminal poses a Homeland Security and safety issue,” says an August 8th NJ Transit report evaluating the Hoboken Terminal as a possible home for NY Waterway.
“The fuel and chemicals that would be stored on site present significant safety and security concerns. Fire, explosion, or spill in the proposed location could have serious impacts to life and health,” noting that the terminal also serves as an evacuation point for Manhattan.
Other concerns mentioned in the report include that the location is not designed for regular truck activity, would require the full demolition and construction of the existing south pier and could take up to five years to complete, with “feasibility and exact cost unknown.”
Back in November, Hoboken officials presented the findings from a Boswell Engineering study that had rated the Hoboken Terminal as the best option for NY Waterway’s new location.
Clearly, NJ Transit does not agree with that assessment, based on the reports released today.
In a second NJ Transit study, prepared by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, WSP Inc. and KPFF Consulting Engineers, the former Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne would be far too expensive an option to consider.
Construction could cost between $34.3 million and $47.9 million and could take between six to 15 months to complete, according to the study.
Meanwhile, Union Dry Dock would only cost somewhere between $9.3 to $10.6 million a year, with no added operational costs to NY Waterway, the study shows.
Furthermore, the former MOTBY was utilized, it would also cost NY Waterway an additional $2.8 to $3.3 million a in annual operating costs.
“MOTBY is an inefficient location for relocating mooring, maintenance and fueling operations for NYWW’s ferries, although it may be useful in the future with expansion of other ferry services,” the report concludes.
Bayonne released a request for proposals for a ferry operator back in June of last year and then selected the Atlantic Highlands-based SeaStreak as their operator in October.
“These studies ignore politics and tell the truth, despite the lies and abuse our opponents have been spouting. They confirm what we have said for 10 years: Union Dry Dock is the only suitable location for a ferry repair and maintenance facility,” NY Waterway President and Founder Arthur Imperatore said in a statement.
“We look forward to working with the people of Hoboken to create an attractive facility at Union Dry Dock; to add amenities to make Hoboken Cove more welcoming to recreational boaters and to create a safe and beautiful walkway/bikeway next to the site.”
On August 7th, the Hoboken City Council approved a measure to begin eminent domain proceedings on the Union Dry Dock property, which many activists and officials have said they would like to see become part of a contiguous waterfront park.
The governing body will vote on the second reading of that ordinance at their regularly scheduled September 4th meeting.
The Hoboken council approved eminent domain on the property back in November 2017, but ended up rescinding that the following April after NJ Transit, on two different occasions, appeared poised to try to acquire the property.
“NJ Transit will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with all stakeholders as it progresses,” added NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.
Predictably, Mayor Ravi Bhalla expressed disappointment with NJ Transit
“It’s disappointing that New Jersey Transit is producing reports to benefit NY Waterway’s corporate greed at the behest of their multi-millionaire CEO,” Bhalla said in a statement.
“Nonetheless, NJ Transit’s conclusion that Bayonne could support a ferry maintenance facility supports what we’ve said all along – that there are viable alternate locations other than Union Dry Dock, which we urge NY Waterway to consider. Since we agree that there are other viable locations NY Waterway could use, the only reason for NJ Transit to intervene would be to use taxpayer money to pad the profits of a private company that makes millions off of our commuters.”
Additionally, Fund for a Better Waterfront Executive Director Ron Hine said that nothing has changed from NJ Transit’s plans from 2009, stressing that Union Dry Dock is the wrong location for NY Waterway.
Finally, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher wrote off the legitimacy of both studies and said that she is in agreement with the mayor on this one.
“Both reports read like marketing materials for NY Waterway and seem to purposely ignore the Hoboken’s waterfont and the environment The outcome can’t be that only Hoboken loses,” she said.
“I echo what Mayor Bhalla said and encourage all stakeholders to take a step back and actually explore other alternatives, such as splitting NY Waterway operations where refueling remains in Weehawken. I’m hopeful we can identify a better outcome for all stakeholders.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated with new information.