Tell NJ Transit Board to vote ‘no’ on the diesel depot at Hoboken’s waterfront

Tell NJ Transit Board to vote ‘no’ on the diesel depot at Hoboken’s waterfront 2018-01-14T13:40:45+00:00
Agenda #1801-06: Union Dry Dock – Property Acquisition
NJ Transit Board of Directors
Monday, January 15 at 9:00 a.m. (Martin Luther King Day)
Board Room, One Penn Plaza East, Newark, New Jersey

By Ron Hine | FBW | January 14, 2018

Tomorrow is your opportunity to tell the NJ Transit Board to vote ‘no’ on this item so critical to the future of Hoboken and its waterfront. You can sign up to speak prior to entering the Board Room. A two minute time limit will likely be imposed for each speaker.

This acquisition, that would be a windfall gain for NY Waterway, is being pushed through one day before Governor Christie leaves office. On January 16, Phil Murphy will be sworn in as Governor and will appoint a new chair (the DOT Commissioner) and a number of new NJ Transit Board members.

For the past year, NJ Transit has been negotiating behind closed doors with NY Waterway to purchase the Union Dry Dock property for use as a ferry depot for refueling, repair, storage and pumping of sanitary waste. The diesel refueling and ferry traffic will occur at all hours of the day. No consideration has been given to the health impacts on thousands of residents living in this neighborhood, the thousands more who flock to Hoboken’s waterfront for recreation purposes or the students, faculty & staff next door at Stevens Institute of Technology. Nor have the environmental impacts on this intertidal zone, an important habitat for marine and shore wildlife, been considered.

Union Dry Dock represents one of the final missing links in Hoboken’s waterfront park that has been built one segment at a time over the past two decades largely financed by a series of state and federal grants as well as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Acquiring the site for use as public open space is overwhelmingly supported by residents of the Hoboken area and local public officials.

NY Waterway is privately owned by Arthur Imperatore, Sr. In the past, the state and federal government have spent tens of millions on building ferry terminals for NY Waterway’s use, greatly enhancing the value of the company. Imperatore has been a generous and frequent contributor to political campaigns of various public officials, both democrat and republican.

Our Trip to Trenton & NJ Transit’s massive operating deficit

On January 8, the Fund for a Better Waterfront and neighborhood residents joined Mayor Ravi Bhalla at the State House in Trenton. For two and a half hours, the Joint State Senate Legislative Oversight and Assembly Judiciary Committee grilled NJ Transit leadership on the agency’s financial, management and safety woes. At the end of the session, Mayor Ravi Bhalla was given time to plead the case against NJ Transit’s acquisition of the Union Dry Dock site. Local Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro participated on the Committee and in the final minutes asked NJ Transit officials why it would spend $12 million to acquire prime Hoboken real estate given massive deficits it is facing (estimated to be as much as $80 million).

Following the Committee meeting, Mayor Bhalla held a press conference. After the Mayor spoke he was followed with comments from Assemblywoman Chaparro, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, City Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, Hoboken Quality of Life Chair Mary Kelly, Maxwell Place resident Tina Hahn and FBW director Ron Hine. Also in attendance were FBW Board members Jim Vance, Gary Hindes and Aaron Lewit, and FBW Program Director Heather Gibbons.

Last Wednesday, the Record newspaper quoted Governor-elect Murphy as follows: “There is no reason why a plan to institute commercial development should be rushed through after it was hidden from public scrutiny for months.” This quote pertained to Governor Christie’s proposed private marina at the south end of Liberty State Park. But this same statement could apply to what has transpired at the Union Dry Dock property in Hoboken.