Zimmer, DeFusco clash over acquisition of Hoboken’s Union Dry Dock


Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco are clashing over the acquisition of the city’s Union Dry Dock property, with the mayor pushing for eminent domain, while DeFusco is calling for “a good faith negotiation” after the mayoral race. Union Dry Dock

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“In my experience with acquiring Block 12 for the Southwest Park and the 6-acre BASF property in Northwest Hoboken, it is not possible to acquire property without the City Council’s authorization for eminent domain,” Zimmer said in a statement earlier today.

“Given recent new factors that have come to light, it is important to move forward with this process at this time to expand our City’s waterfront parks.”

As a result, the city plans on adding the eminent domain agenda item to the agenda for the October 4th council meeting.

The last time Zimmer urged the council to approve a measure, advocating for a new Suez Water deal at the September 7th meeting, tensions quickly escalated and the item ended up being pulled.

A September 22nd letter from Union Dry Dock counsel James J. Burke, addressed to Joseph Maraziti, Jr., says that his client cannot “engage in active negotiations with the City of Hoboken to sell the property” at this time.

Union Dry Dock is located on Sinatra Drive between 9th and 10th Streets and is essentially the city’s last waterfront property that hasn’t been developed.

DeFusco, who is one of six candidates running to succeed Zimmer, introduced a plan last month to turn the Union Dry Dock property into “floating pool and urban beach.”

In a statement released today directly in response to Zimmer, the councilman mocked Zimmer and Councilman-at-Ravi Bhalla, who is also running for mayor with Zimmer’s backing.

“After nine years in office, it’s great to see Mayor Zimmer finally come to realize how important it is for the city to acquire the Union Dry Dock site in the last few months of her term,” began DeFusco.

“However, her decision to abandon any pretense of a fair negotiation and move immediately to eminent domain proceedings would plunge us into yet another costly litigation with a city property owner.”

“As we’ve seen time and again, this approach doesn’t always result in a timely acquisition of property, as evidenced by the decade-long process of acquiring the recently opened Southwest Park, and can lead to outrageous legal fees our taxpayers have been exposed to in ill-fated court battles like the Monarch development.”

DeFusco concluded that the “sue first, negotiate later” approach frequented by Zimmer and Bhalla would be ineffective here, noting that his understanding was Union Dry Dock was open to “a good faith negotiation” after the November 7th election.

A city spokesman did not respond to DeFusco’s criticisms.

Bhalla has also introduced a plan for a city-run pool as part of his recreation agenda and intimated during a September 8th appearance on Hudson County Review Live that DeFusco’s pool plan wasn’t realistic.

The Fund for a Better Waterfront, whose goal is to have a “contiguous public park along the Hudson River,” tweeted that they Zimmer’s approach at this stage is “questionable.”

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  1. FBW has a little ugly history of partisan politics. John – you should consider updating your story to note the $1,000 contribution made by Jim Vance to Mike DeFusco.

    • That’s just a tad disingenuous, isn’t it? Why aren’t you mentioning the money Vance has given Dawn, Ravi, Jen and many other people over the years? Here’s a hint – it’s more than $1,000. Very classy to pretend to call someone else out while you yourself don’t mention similar contributions that completely derail your argument. There’s nothing wrong with financially supporting candidates you think will do a good job. There is something very wrong with attacking someone for it just because they are not giving to your candidate this time.

  2. Shame on both Zimmer and Defusco for even discussing going after a viable, thriving waterfront business. Union Dry Dock is and has been for decades, a good neighbor. They provide employment, pay taxes and support local businesses and many, many local charities. It also provides a valuable maritime service in the Hudson Harbor. Union Dry dock may not be as pretty as a park, but nonetheless, it is part and parcel of the Hoboken community and is an important link to Hoboken’s waterfront history.
    Taking this property by eminent domain proceedings is unconscionable. Rushing it through before an election is downright evil. DeFusco is no better than Zimmer and his grandstanding actions now just reek of bad politics. Zimmer will be gone in a few months and we will be lucky to have her leave, but if DeFusco should ever get his slimy little hands into the Mayor’s office we will be stuck with a moron who will do and say anything to grab a headline.

    • This is a ridiculous comment. Zimmer is the only one trying to force anything on anyone. DeFusco is just calling her out on it, which is a good thing, because it seems no one else on the council ever does. Recent history has proven that if you don’t publicly call Dawn out, she’ll do stupid things, like tell her friend Keith to refuse to let the Monarch project go in front of the Planning Board, where they could have voted it down, rather than have it be automatically approved and put us in a legal mess that has cost tons of money and we still might lose. I wish DeFusco was on the council then, maybe we could have followed the law and avoided all of that. Nothing in this article or even in your comment points to anything DeFusco has done wrong. Why can’t you just state your opinion on Union Drydock without adding in baseless insults? If UDD wants to keep operating that’s one thing, but if they sell to a developer that wants to build another Monarch, and we have the same people in charge as were then, we’re going to have a big problem. I don’t really care about a pool, but I do care about avoiding more development on the waterfront, so if that’s the means to the end so be it. I care more about my taxes, fees and property value, and I’m glad someone is blowing the whistle on Dawn for a change.

  3. There’s just something Shady about that Ravi Bhalla

    The Condon conflict

    The civil rights/ free speech lawsuit we lost on his behalf

    The Suez conflict

    The job with FPSF he got after supporting them for HHA

    The POG condemnation he got in his 1st 6 months for his pay to play antics in Newark!

    Ravi Bhalla is for Ravi

  4. oy vey totally agree your well thought out position that considers the values of Hoboken rather than mass high speed hipster flavor-of-the-month urbanization that has been ruining Hoboken. The below quote says it best: “Our values are etched in the landscape. That is our enduring legacy.” —INTERIOR SECRETARY BRUCE BABBITT, 2000

  5. There’s just something Shady about that Ravi Bhalla

    The Condon conflict

    The civil rights/ free speech lawsuit we lost on his behalf

    The Suez conflict

    The job with FPSF he got after supporting them for HHA

    The POG condemnation he got in his 1st 6 months for his pay to play antics in Newark!

    Ravi Bhalla is for Ravi