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.