LETTER: Hoboken council should not use eminent domain on Union Dry Dock


In a letter to the editor, the Fund for a Better Waterfront is asking the Hoboken City Council to table a measure that would allow the city to use eminent domain to acquire the Union Dry Dock property.

Photo via betterwaterfront.org.
Photo via betterwaterfront.org.

Dear Editor,

The ordinance coming before the Council this Wednesday night “authorizing the acquisition by purchase or condemnation of . . . 901 Sinatra Drive . . . owned by Union Dry Dock and Repair Company” is ill-advised and misguided for a number of reasons as follows:

• Eminent domain, the government’s power to take an individual’s private property without their consent, is a drastic action that should be used sparingly and judiciously, and only as a last resort.

It is ill-advised to threaten its use at the inception of a complex land transaction such as this. This ordinance could jeopardize the ultimate success of this effort or delay its resolution for a number of years.

• The Mayor has taken this action without consulting with any City Council members or the Council Subcommittee on Community Development North. Nor has she consulted with neighborhood residents or FBW who have a vested interest in making this site part of Hoboken’s waterfront park.

• Turning this important and complicated matter into an open political issue a month before a mayoral election is certainly poor timing at best. On January 1, less than three months away, there will be a new mayor and two or three new City Council members.

Since the acquisition of this site could take a number of months, even a number of years, it makes sense for the next administration develop the path forward in how to secure this site as public open space.

• A year ago, FBW retained Andrew Strauss of Andrew Strauss & Associates-Planners of Trenton, New Jersey who has specialized since the 1980s in the acquisition of land for public purposes.

We have consulted with him on a regular basis for the past year and acquired considerable knowledge about the Union Dry Dock property and the owner’s attempts to sell over the past 16 years.

Through Mr. Strauss, we have learned that there are a number of options for securing the site as public open space. Direct acquisition by the City of Hoboken is only one of several potentially available options.

It is critical that the City Council not just table this item, but also resolve to work swiftly to find the most cost-effective way to acquire UDD as part of a master plan to keep Hoboken’s shoreline a continuous public park.

Fund for a Better Waterfront


Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to the nine members of the Hoboken City Council yesterday. Mayoral candidate Karen Nason has also released a video supporting the FBW’s point of view.

Karen Nason – Better Water Front from Macallan.Productions on Vimeo.

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  1. I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in this letter from the FBW. I am a horse and my wife is a doe. We both an interspecies family and need alot of running around space for us and our three dorse children, something Hoboken is woefully short of. Sure, we sometimes take a gallop over to Liberty State Park in JC, or go to JC to use CitiBike to bike into NYC so we can gallop in Central Park, but it would be wonderful to be able to trot around a big new waterfront park on the union dry Dock site checking out the NYC skyline. That’s why we were so excited to sign the FBW petition last July and got all of our extended horse and deer family members to sign too.

    When we read on the FBW website that the next step was to make this a campaign issue, we took our whole herd to a Mike DeFusco fundraiser, since Mr. Vance told us that Mr. DeFusco was going to let us prance around on a new beach and let us drink from a floating pool. I neighed loudly when Mr. DeFusco said the same thing (and my wife made quiet approving doe noises).

    But now it seems like we were deceived. The FBW wants to stop the City from trying to find out what the land would cost and try to buy it. They just want to help Mr. deFusco get elected. I guess that’s what they meant when they said we should use this as a campaign issue.

    We are so upset that we may look for a barn in JC. We like the edginess there and there’s much more room to gallop.


  2. Romano Shim spews idiotic crap again
    1.its not “FBW’s union drydock”
    2. People want a pool
    3. Council members only used E.D. on ONE parcel
    4. There was no E.D. used on any of Academy Bus land- Nason is either ignorant or just lying
    5. The council only used E.D. on the SW Park- a park that prevents flooding- near her cafe
    6. Nason appears to be against the E.D. for the Maxwell pump – a pump that would stop flooding around her cafe
    7. Nason only attacks Defusco, never Romano

  3. Eminent domain may not be a good idea at this stage but I certainly don’t support FBW, Ron Heiney or Jim Vance, notorious azzhole friends of Beth Mason. No one elected them to anything and they are not authorized to represent Hoboken in any back room deal.

    Transparency is required in the sunlight of public participation. Overdue.