Op-Ed: ‘Bhalla’s mayoral palace proposal is a bad idea’ for Hoboken taxpayers


In an editorial, Hoboken resident Joshua Sotomayor Einstein gives his take on why Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s municipal complex, referred to here as a “palace proposal,” is “a bad idea” for local taxpayers.

Photo via Zoom.

The multimillion dollar mayoral palace pushed by Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, supported by his political retainers, and being boosted by those at his employ is a waste of tax dollars estimated to cost between $151 and $191 million dollars (before the inevitable interest).

The mayoral palace proposal, coming less than a year after the rejected Hoboken Board of Education referendum for a $250 million (before interest and $330 million after) complex, also includes the attempted bribe of a public pool and additionally a new library branch.

Short on details that rise above pitch-meeting type talking-points, the Bhalla administration and those dependent on his political machine have yet to explain their rational for the massive spending spree the mayoral palace would require.

While it is true that Hoboken needs a new parking facility for the Department of Public Works, the assertion by Bhalla and his dependents that a new city hall, police station, and fire fighter HQ are required are false and have failed to garner the required support from the city council.

At a minimum, enough city council members understand that the proposed mayoral palace will burden the taxpayer for decades to come and is not needed.

Indeed, many Hoboken advocates are cognizant that the old YMCA, still in limited operation (including a food bank and lower income housing), could be partnered with and renovated to restore the pool for the public and house a library branch for hundreds of millions of dollars less than Bhalla’s mayoral palace.

Moreover, Bhalla is not content with merely playing the part of disconnected machine politician pushing a vanity project.

By using eminent domain to forcibly take land for his proposed palace from its current owner, and for a complex that is a want rather than a need, Bhalla is seemingly doing his hardest to ape Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s efforts to take land that also does not belong to him.

What little reasoning Bhalla and his small but vocal cadre of yes women & men share with the public for the mayoral palace rests on the notion that yearly maintenance costs at the current city hall, police station, and fire HQ are too much.

Yet even in the worst case scenario it would take decades upon decades, if not a century, of purposeful neglect to make upkeep costs rival that of Bhalla’s municipal palace.

This is of course to ignore the facts that fixing any perennial issues in said buildings would also cost less than the proposed mayoral palace project as well as the maintenance costs on such a huge complex.

Rumors abound that the Bhalla administration is attempting backroom deals to get council support, and failing that, trying to get an out of town governmental entity to engage in the unnecessary project on his behalf.

Assertions by Bhalla loyalists exist that the only outlay by Hoboken taxpayers will be for the bond for eminent domain.

This pretends tens of millions of dollars spent on something unnecessary is somehow a positive as well as ignores the fact that Bhalla’s previous eminent domain battle (began in 2017) over the Union Dry Dock is still ongoing with the property remaining to this day in legal possession of NY Waterway.

Bhalla’s mayoral palace proposal is a bad idea because it ignores affordable opportunities for a municipal pool and library branch and will raise the cost of living for all residents.

A politician, such as Mayor Bhalla, with a personality complex demanding hundreds of millions of other people’s money be spent on his vanity project is one complex enough for town. Hoboken should not build Mayor Bhalla his palace.

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  1. As usual the Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s Administration was caught flatfooted after a series of rushed complicated developer deals and because of that put Hoboken in the position of having to vacate it’s essential muni garage. The latest very expensive and bloated proposed designs are an attempt to justify the lack of planing.

  2. This was a done deal long before the public ever was let in on it as far Bhalla, Cohen, Doyle, Jabbour, Russo and Quintero were concerned. They all recently gave them selves hefty raises to insulate themselves from what will be even more hefty tax increases to pay for not only the construction of Bhalla’s Municipal Palace but the cost of maintaing this and all the other new City development projects. Bhalla will as quietly as they can start to sell off city owned property once the ink has had a chance to dry. The police station, fire stations and a other properties will be up zoned and handed over to what is rumored to be already chosen developers.

    I think it’s time we stop
    Children,what’s that sound?
    Everybody look, what’s going down?

  3. It’s perfectly reasonable to be opposed to a new municipal complex. But when you compare Bhalla using eminent domain to Putin invading a country….you make yourself sound like a clown. I respect the passion you have. And I don’t even really think we need this new building. But I put a lot less stock in your thoughts and opinions after reading this.

  4. I really wish people would stop pedaling the former YMCA/ ” Hoboken Community Center”- that is building is a private organization that was tossed out of the national YMCA network because they dropped the community services besides the SRO.

    That’s a whole other mess, adding 2 floors atop a outdated, and who knows if structurally sound gym and pool building. That indoor pool is way too small for a city of 65,000
    The Y is a money pit

  5. The Hoboken YMCA is a viable option for the uptown libray branch…and a small pool is better than no pool at all. The pool could at least be used for children’s swim classes. As for the soundness of the building, an additional floor was added when they were constructing the affordable housing units. So, the structural integrity shouldn’t be an issue. However, I think the main reason the Y keeps being mentioned is because the city presnts the municipal complex proposal as if there are no other options to house the police, fire, ems, emergency managment, pool, playgrounds, etc when, in fact, there are plenty of options to renovate existing facilities (multi service center on Grand St, current police hq, ymca) and no need to imminent domain poggi land.

    • It’s an SRO
      These are not affordable apartments.
      They are Kitchenless and no bathrooms

      How about the asbestos, lead paint and mold? Is there any? Was that remediated?