Still looking to preserve Union Dry Dock as a family-oriented park site, Hoboken officials held a press conference earlier today revealing that an engineering study indicates another option on the southern side of the city is a better choice for a ferry maintenance facility.
“The result of our engineers, Boswell, reached the exact same conclusion that New Jersey Transit itself reached several years earlier: that Hoboken South – the Hoboken Lakawanna Ferry Terminal – is the ideal location for this type of use,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla.
According to the 25-page study sent to Bhalla by Boswell Engineering on September 6th, 24 potential sites between northern New Jersey and New York were reviewed, and later narrowed down to five, as the options to house New York Waterway’s ferry maintenance and refueling station.
The sites were evaluated based on eight categories: capacity, zoning/use compatibility, development timing, accessibility, public safety, environmental constraints, future expansion and cost.
“The advantages of utilizing this site as NY Waterway’s FMO over other alternate locations included compatibility with existing use, capacity and superior accessibility,” the report said about Hoboken Terminal, the top ranking option according to Boswell.
“Hoboken Terminal services over 50,000 commuters daily and is home to NY Waterway’s Hoboken Ferry Station. This portion of the waterway experiences heavy boat traffic on a daily basis and has adequate depth to accommodate ferry vessels.”
Furthermore, the mayor didn’t pull punches when he explained what message he wanted sent to NY Waterway.
“New York Waterway is not going to build a maintenance, operations and refueling facilities at Union Dry Dock. It will not happen during this administration: over my dead body. It may not be very smart to say that in Hudson County, but with this administration, it’s not gonna happen ladies and gentlemen,” he said to some laughter.
2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who oversees Union Dry Dock in her ward, highlighted the fact that NY Waterway would not necessarily have to be tied down to one location.
“What makes these top three sites ideal: they’re either already existing transportation hubs or they’re commercial centers,” she began.
“Lackawanna terminal, rated first, is already one of the top transportation hubs in New Jersey, the Bayonne Peninsula, rated second, is positioned to be the next major hub and the Binghamton Ferry site, rated third, is effectively vacant, sits on a partial area near other New York Waterway operations and is already zone for a port.”
Fund for a Better Waterfront Executive Director Ron Hine brought up the fact that NY Waterway had said for the first half of this year that they were going to be evicted from their Weehawken site on June 1st.
However, he added that they are still operating out of that facility and an eviction threat could not be taken seriously since NY Waterway President Arthur Imperatore owns the land.
When HCV asked Bhalla to follow up on that point during a question and answer session with the media, he said only NY Waterway could speak to that, but still clearly found the situation comical.
“They keep moving the goal post further and further, they say we have an eviction notice, the last we heard of, June 1st. They talked to the governor’s office through the lobbyists, they manufacture a transportation crisis, which is a fake crisis: it’s November 13th and they’re still operating. Where’s that eviction notice?”
A spokesman for NY Waterway, Pat Smith, said that today’s press conference “did not add anything new to the discussion.”
Today’s announcement does not add anything new to the discussion. Our comments regarding the alternatives analysis have been passed on to the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the normal permit application review process,” he said.
“We remain confident that Union Dry Dock is the ideal location for our maintenance facility from the logistical and environmental viewpoint and look forward to the ACOE’s decision and future utilization of the site.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers heard residents speak out about the future of Union Dry Dock back in July, where the vast majority were against having NY Waterway take over the location.
The full press conference streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below:
Editor’s Note: This story was updated with a comment from NY Waterway.