In a letter to the editor, Hoboken resident Eytan Stern Weber says that claims that Hoboken using eminent domain to acquire Union Dry Dock would be the equivalent to stealing are “patently false.”
Thereâ€™s been no shortage of discussion or news coverage on the issue of Hobokenâ€™s Union Dry Dock (UDD). However, weâ€™re at a time in America when people are literally debating the validity of facts themselves.
As such, I think itâ€™s crucial that we do everything in our power to give the public all information on nuanced issues like this so they can make their own decisions, as independent from political misdirection as possible.
Eminent domain is a hotly contested practice, which is completely understandable. Thatâ€™s why there are so many political, logistical, and procedural hoops to jump through if a government wants to use it, so itâ€™s only enacted in the most pressing situations.
However, some people have claimed that Hoboken using eminent domain for UDD is â€œstealing.â€ Theyâ€™ve specifically left out relevant facts to make it seem as if New York Waterway (NYWW) would be out of their investment entirely, losing millions of dollars.
This is patently false. In accordance with eminent domain, Hoboken would have to pay NYWW the appraised market value of the property in order to take control, roughly $2,000,000 more than NYWW paid for it.
Thatâ€™s one of the reasons the false theft narrative is such a gross mischaracterization, because I think we can all agree that if someone gets robbed, they donâ€™t make a profit.
Another issue is the question of impact, both on the environment and the people who either study or take part in water activities adjacent to UDD.
At best, saying there will be no impact on the area is an unfounded claim with no data to back it up because NYWW refused to do an environmental impact study, despite the calls of hundreds of Hoboken residents.
At worst, itâ€™s a blatant falsehood meant to manipulate the public. The only people truly knowledgeable about marine life impact are marine biologists like the ones who spoke at Hobokenâ€™s Save the Waterfront rally.
They explained that specific organisms in that area are actively cleaning the Hudson River for us, and that with the regular turbulence of diesel ferries coming and going, these species could not survive.
Also at the rally were dozens of people who kayak, fish, and take part in outdoor classroom programs for kids interested in environmentalism. Simply put, all of these things would become impossible should NYWW build a Ferry Depot.
Ferries create wakes that make it outright dangerous for anyone to be in a kayak or canoe nearby, let alone children. Diesel engines would undoubtedly scare away any fish, and the area would become a dead zone of marine life.
Part of the false narrative some have tried to create is that NYWW would build a dock for boaters and fishers to launch from, but for the reasons I mentioned, that would be a gift box with nothing inside.
Of course, thereâ€™s a lot more misinformation circulating as key facts are omitted, but this issue goes beyond the back-and-forth of UDD. There are people who are counting on the public to be too apathetic to fact check their claims.
Some of these people are comfortable intentionally misguiding or explicitly lying to us because weâ€™ve placed trust in our political rhetoric, and they have no qualms about exploiting it.
We have to decide what the future of Hoboken politics will look like. Will we accept what weâ€™re told without question, or will we do our due diligence so we canâ€™t be manipulated?
In an era when â€œfake newsâ€ is being used to literally undermine our democracy, will we sit back and watch it happen, or will we stand together in saying we deserve better?
Iâ€™ve done my research and shaped my views accordingly. For the sake of unity and informed politics in this city, I truly hope you do the same.
Eytan Stern Weber