In a letter to the editor, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla provides the latest updates on Union Dry Dock, including New York Waterway’s application with the state Department of Environmental Protection and much more.
I wanted to take this opportunity to update residents on the City’s ongoing efforts to acquire the preserve the property known as Union Dry Dock publicly accessible waterfront space.
Regretfully, I was informed recently New York Waterway’s (“NYWW”) permit application was granted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) to operate a repair and maintenance depot in Hoboken.
However, the approval of the permit is expressly conditioned on the receipt of all necessary federal, state, and local approvals. In other words, NYWW has a long way to go before they can start operations in Hoboken.
In fact, before any work can begin at the site, the Army Corps of Engineers (“ACOE”) must first review NYWW’s application for an individual permit.
Such a permit requires a heightened level of scrutiny, and importantly, a more open, transparent, and public process, including the opportunity for a public hearing.
In an effort to ensure full transparency, I have formally requested that the ACOE hold a public hearing in Hoboken to allow our residents a voice in the process.
I am extremely gratified that my request has been publicly supported, and echoed, by Senators Menendez and Booker and Representative Sires.
The permit review process also includes a review of public input, and I encourage all residents to submit to the ACOE in writing their thoughts on NYWW using our waterfront as a repair and maintenance facility.
In addition, I have directed City attorneys to explore all legal options available to safeguard Hoboken’s waterfront.
My Administration has been collaboratively working with our City Council on this matter, and we will be briefing the Council in closed session at the next meeting to discuss the options available to us regarding the granting of the DEP permit.
Secondly, members of my Administration and I also had a productive meeting on May 15, 2018, with New Jersey Transit’s (“NJT”) new Executive Director, Kevin Corbett at his offices in Newark.
NJT is currently conducting a clinical analysis expected to be completed by September of all alternative sites that are suitable to house a ferry repair and maintenance facility.
Hoboken has also retained engineering professionals to conduct our own analysis. Director Corbett agreed that his professionals would review and consider the data and analysis conducted by Hoboken’s professionals in identifying a suitable site.
Furthermore, Director Corbett agreed to provide my Administration with a draft of NJT’s analysis and report prior to its final version, so that Hoboken has an opportunity to review the document and offer further feedback.
It is worthy to note that while the City and NJT are presently analyzing alternative sites, NJT actually conducted a similar study in 2009 of suitable locations for a repair and maintenance facility and ranked each site accordingly.
Based on NJT’s own analysis, the Union Dry Dock property is ranked only sixth out of nine potential locations. This strongly suggests that there are at least several alternatives better suited for NYWW’s facility and operations.
My administration is actively involved in discussions with all interested parties, and I will continue to fight to protect our waterfront.
I am grateful to the many organizations and individuals who have joined in this effort, especially the Fund for a Better Waterfront and Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront.
As developments happen, I will continue to provide updates to our community.