FBW presses for safeguards to ensure that NY Waterway exits at the end of its lease

FBW | June 28, 2024

Safeguarding Maritime Park for its ultimate use as public open space

The Fund for a Better Waterfront (FBW) has worked with its legal team to put various protections for the former Union Dry Dock site into place. Last year, FBW reached a settlement with the City that ensured that the provisions of the City’s Open Space Trust Fund Ordinance will be enforced. This includes amending the deed to include language that the property was acquired with Open Space Trust Funds and thus restricted for use as public parkland, and that any new lease will require voter approval via a referendum. Last January, FBW wrote to the City requesting that Hoboken’s Recreation and Open Space Inventory (ROSI), monitored by the NJDEP, be updated to include the Maritime Park property at 901 Sinatra Drive. The City finally responded this month stating that the City’s ROSI would be updated to include 901 Sinatra prior to receiving any new NJDEP Green Acres funding. 

City acquisition/NY Waterway Lease

This January, the settlement agreement between NY Waterway and the City of Hoboken was finalized, allowing the City to secure clear title to the 8.36-acre former dry dock property at 901 Sinatra Drive. The Superior Court Consent Order paved the way for NY Waterway to receive the $18.5 million agreed-upon purchase price. The agreement required the City to lease back about two-thirds of the site to the ferry company while it rebuilds its new maintenance facility elsewhere. This lease, allowing for storage, repair and, for a limited time, refueling of the company’s ferry fleet, began on December 1, 2023. This lease remains in effect for another two and a half years with an option to renew for an additional two years.

NY Waterway has hired a contractor to install bumper piles at the existing three piers. This work will commence beginning on July 1 after a NJDEP moratorium is lifted. The work on the northernmost pier, however, will likely be delayed for several months, as an attempt at the Shipyard Marina to deter Common Terns from returning to Pier 11 this spring has caused some of the birds to relocate their nests to Pier 12 and the north pier at Union Dry Dock. The hatchlings of these birds, protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918, could take until the end of August to mature and be able to fly south for the winter.

Maritime Park, Phase 1

Last year, the City awarded a $1.2 million contract to Dattner Architects to develop a concept design for the park at the former dry dock site. The work on most of this park will be delayed until the end of NY Waterway’s lease. The City has pledged to begin Phase 1 of the park development this year and has applied to the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund to help cover part of the cost. On April 3, the City Council approved a $2.2 million contract for Colliers Engineering & Design to develop the final engineering design documents for Phase 1 on the one-third unleased portion of the site. The City expects this to include a new skate park, replacing the aging one built more than 20 years ago.

Sinatra Drive Project

A linear, 25-foot wide strip of the dry dock property will be dedicated to the Sinatra Drive Project. This project will build a protected 12-foot wide bicycle pathway, two 11-foot travel lanes, a widened sidewalk and several rows of canopy trees from Fourth Street up to Eleventh. By narrowing the travel lanes, traffic will be slowed. The City has awarded a contract to demolish several buildings at the dry dock site to make way for the work on Sinatra Drive. Construction can begin once the U.S. Department of Transportation gives final approval. The work adjacent to 901 Sinatra will provide safe passage at the most constricted, inaccessible portion of Hoboken’s waterfront.