Zimmer, Bhalla say Hoboken should own Union Dry Dock, not NJ Transit


In a letter, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Mayor-elect Ravi Bhalla voiced their “strong opposition and extreme disappointment” over NJ Transit trying to acquire the Union Dry Dock property from New York Waterway. 


By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“We are writing to express our strong opposition and extreme disappointment in NJ TRANSIT’s plans to acquire the former Union Dry Dock property from NY Waterway without any public process or communications with the City of Hoboken and our community,” Bhalla and Zimmer said in a letter to NJ Transit Executive Director Steven Santoro and the agencies board members.

“In October 2012, former NJ TRANSIT Executive Director James Weinstein wrote to the City of Hoboken and stated publicly ‘to confirm that New Jersey Transit is no longer exploring the acquisition of the Union Dry Dock property nor does the agency anticipate doing so in the future.”

They continue that the latest “threat” to acquire the property “betrays this commitment.”

Last week, the Hoboken council approved a measure that would allow the city to use eminent domain to acquire the Union Dry Dock property if necessary.

Bhalla abstained on the matter since NJ Transit is a client of his law firm, Florio Perucci Steinhardt and Fader, something that prompted an ethics complaint from political adversary 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco during the mayoral campaign.

The Bhalla team dismissed the complaint as “a desperate political stunt” at the time.

Meanwhile, the first ordinance reading passed back in October, but the council decided not to vote on the second reading until after the municipal elections.

In between the first and second hearing, New York Waterway purchased the Union Dry Dock property for $11.5 million.

“Hoboken recovered from its economic downturn by reimaging our formerly industrial waterfront as public open space. NJ TRANSIT’s intentions to purchase Union Dry Dock and lease it for ferry maintenance are absolutely unacceptable to our community,” Zimmer and Bhalla continued in their letter.

” … We urge you to end all efforts to acquire the former Union Dry Dock property and to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to find a solution that works for the entire region.”

NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said in an email that acquiring the Union Dry Dock would help improve ferry service which “is an integral component of our regional transportation network.”

“The UDD property is the last remaining working marine site along a major stretch of the Hudson waterfront and is zoned for marine vessel maintenance and repair. Optimizing the availability and use of ferries is a crucial part of a coordinated trans-Hudson transportation strategy to meet the future travel needs of New Jersey residents,” she wrote.

“In order to help ensure the long-term viability of trans-Hudson ferry service, NJ TRANSIT has been discussing the potential acquisition of the UDD property from New York Waterway for use as a ferry maintenance and fueling facility.”



Editor’s Note: This story was updated with a comment from NJ Transit. 

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  1. The deal is done. All this noise is for show not for the dough!
    Isn’t that right Ravi?

    NJ Transit is calling the shots and they have their man ready to go come January in City Hall: Ravi!

    • Yet wasn’t it Mike DeFusco who went loud and public for Hoboken to back off on putting eminent domain started to purchase the property ? Now he is bitching ? Hmmmmmmm ?

  2. i can’t figure out if this is a ploy for 10-20 more floors on NJ Transit’s ToD development or if NJ Transit is sincere about supporting NY Waterways. If it is about ToD, it will be interesting to watch Maxwell Place residents crowd a council meeting throwing the rest of Hoboken under the bus so that they can get another toddler park and supporting our next mayor’s transaction with NJ Transit for those 10-20 more floors.

  3. I just checked the NJ Transit website and they only offer bus, light rail and train service. Can their spokesperson please explain why having a ferry terminal is critical to their needs when it is clearly in the wheelhouse of NY Waterway which actually has a ferry service?

    Things that make you go hmmm….

    • you ran with the brice lie about russo becoming council prez. things that make you go hmmmm these guys really can’t handle losing. or as tiffany would say, Hoboken is entering a new era where there is real need for local journalistic coverage. it’s vital that these thoughtful discussions happen, and never digress into immature and unproductive nonsense. unless it’s immature and unproductive lies about the new mayor.

  4. I have come to understand that NJ transit has the ability to undermine the city of Hoboken
    and it’s residents as we seek to make the city, we call home, a healthy and safe place for our families.
    For this reason I would like to bring to your attention the fact that the union dry dock is next
    door to a children’s play ground, and a park where many adults and children spend sunny afternoons
    on the grass.
    Ship maintenance is inherently hostile to life. The paint used to coat a ship contains chemicals
    and biocides designed to kill animal life that would otherwise grow onto the hulls and side of
    ferries. When this coating is applied (open air spray), or removed (open air sandblasting) it can
    easily be blown onto the playground and grass of the park. This is just one of many processes used
    in a ship maintenance facility, that require the use of chemicals deemed harmful to human life. I do
    acknowledge that with the proper precautions the majority of the toxic effects on our families
    could be mitigated.
    Unfortunately we can not have faith in a private company, beneting from the increased
    risk to our families, to use proper precautions. The New York Waterway appears to leverage it’s
    monopoly ferry service between Hoboken and NYC to secure for itself the right to superseded the
    will of the people of Hoboken. Its not hard to imagine that this influence would also allow them to
    skirt responsibility in the event of a toxic accident.
    Please NJ Transit, do what’s right, and do not imped us as we work to keep our home safe for growing

  5. Here we go! Out comes the Maxwell Place brigade demanding that we spend millions upon millions to defend their properties values while they shriek – the children, the children. Too bad Zimmer ignored this until it was too late but we don’t have the money to fix this even if we are able to spend the 11million for the E.D.

    Boohoo. Sorry too late. The mayor doesn’t only represent the people that live at Maxwell Place who can afford the tax increase that will come with the purchase and cleanup who don’t care if the city lays off the staff that is needed to run the city, clean the roads and other parks, oversees construction permits, runs senior services, drafts the master plan, promotes the city and small businesses.

    It is NOT all about rich families when it hurts the rest of us. It already IS a dry dock so stop your selfish crying and demanding that the city serve just YOUR needs if it harms the rest of us.

    • You really need to pick a consistent storyline and stick with it. If you don’t think the property should be purchased by the City, even for the $11-$12 million it sold for to NY Waterway, then what is it exactly you are faulting Zimmer for supposedly ignoring for 8 years?

      You can’t coherently fault Zimmer for not trying to buy the property sooner while also saying we shouldn’t be trying to buy it at all because you’re just fine with it staying a shipyard and we can’t afford the price.

      Of course coherence is in short supply in some circles.

      • The valuation is based on a recent sale. If we had moved to purchase years ago the valuation would likely be different. But you knew that. So, yes I fault Zimmer for ignoring union dry dock. Our spending patterns might also have been different because of the union dry dock costs had we moved on this in 2009, 2010, 2011, etc.

        Either way, purchasing union dry dock now is a non starter.

  6. It’s Friday 12:30 pm. Is it possible a Hoboken story hasn’t seen the usual human excrement from Nancy Pincus’ sleaze, vile attacks and cartoonish Hoboken411 lies here? Why doesn’t she stick to political lies and propaganda videos for Ravi? That’s the audience she serves.