In a letter to the editor, Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher explains why her upcoming race is now only about integrity.
I am writing to address recent statements made by my opponent in the upcoming City Council election regarding the Union Dry Dock (UDD) site in Hoboken. Specifically on two of the most important and controversial topics – refueling at the site and New York Waterway’s (NYWW) ability to stay.
I believe it is essential to clarify the facts and offer a different perspective on this critical issue.
The use of diesel fuel at the site and its potential harm to the environment has been a matter of concern for many Hoboken residents who have been actively involved in this issue since its inception.
My opponent has stated that the lease somehow limits the scope of the fueling activities allowed at the site. But this is just not true. Section 2.3 of the lease defines refueling as a Permitted Use explicitly allowing refueling to take place 24/7 when “the primary station in Weehawken is not available for use.”
Nothing in the lease prevents NYWW from fully moving out of Weehawken to Hoboken, including their fueling operations, and this provision actually allows them to do this. This has been one of my biggest concerns all along.
Concerning NYWW’s potential departure from the site, it is crucial to understand the complex challenges associated with their eviction when a suitable relocation site is unavailable.
While the lease with NYWW does contain eviction language, which was never disputed contrary to what has been suggested, my opponent seems to downplay the real threat posed by NJ Transit’s Eminent Domain powers and the critical role of waterborne transportation in our region.
Suggesting that evicting NYWW will be a straightforward process demonstrates a lack of understanding or, worse, intentional misinformation for political expedience which we too often see.
Reports have identified few alternative locations for ferry operations. And even the Hoboken Terminal and Bayonne options, I was told by Mayor Bhalla, lacked state support due to their involvement in longer term redevelopment plans/visions.
When NYWW’s lease ends, and no relocation site identified, how will we proceed? How do you evict a critical regional transportation system like NYWW if they have nowhere to go? My opponent seems to suggest that you wait until the last minute and shut them down.
This all traces back to that day in Newark 2018 at the NJ Transit Board meeting when NJ Transit considered buying Union Dry Dock from NYWW, potentially ending Hoboken’s opportunity to acquire this vital section of our walkway.
This picture was taken after the meeting ended and the Board did not vote to make the acquisition.
Why would anyone assume NJ Transit won’t attempt buying it again? Waterborne transportation is integral to their regional approach and NJ Transit’s Eminent Domain authority supersedes Hoboken’s. We experienced this when Hoboken filed for Eminent Domain in 2018.
The message Mayor Bhalla and I discussed from Governor Murphy was clear: NJ Transit could enact their own Eminent Domain unless we withdrew our claim – which we did.
Additionally, NJAC 16.89 was reinstated this year, reaffirming NJ Transit’s commitment to the Ferry Capital Improvement Program, which aims to invest state funds in ferry operators’ capital acquisitions and infrastructure improvements.
The threat is real, and we must remain vigilant.
The validity of the NYWW/Hoboken lease is a matter of debate, as originally presented by FBW and their lawyers.
According to Hoboken’s ordinance, the acquisition of Union Dry Dock using Open Space Trust funds should have required a ballot referendum, which did not occur. A valid lease strengthens the landlord’s eviction position, while an invalid lease weakens it.
Thus, if the NYWW/Hoboken lease is not valid, NYWW’s position to stay could be even stronger.
This is undeniably complicated. My goal is to always be honest and transparent with you, even on difficult issues, so we can prepare for the best available outcome, not just the best ideal outcome. The sooner we understand NYWW’s plans, the better, so we can calibrate our response.
Do/can we keep fighting or do we need to change direction and shift efforts to creating plans that include better protecting Hoboken Cove and even repositioning NYWW’s operations to the southern side of the site (as examples).
Instead of pretending NYWW’s departure is assured, I will continue to work diligently to ensure they leave while also preparing for the possibility that they won’t.
With 23 years of experience in commercial real estate and corporate finance, most recently where I retired from, as the CFO of the 2nd largest retail center company in the US, I have been at the forefront of many complex lease, acquisition, and financing transactions.
I negotiated across the table from some of the finest commercial attorneys in the field. I bring this wealth of experience to Hoboken, where complex real estate and development transactions are commonplace like this lease with NYWW.
And I believe this experience is one of the reasons I’ve been elected twice to represent my community on the Hoboken City Council. For a detailed look at my professional background, you can visit my: Tiffanie Fisher | LinkedIn.
Thank you for allowing me to address this important issue, and I am committed to continuing my efforts to serve the best interests of Hoboken’s residents.
Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman