MAYOR BHALLA UPDATE ON UNION DRY DOCK; 15 ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS URGE GOVERNOR MURPHY TO PROTECT HOBOKEN’S WATERFRONT
Below is a statement from Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla on Union Dry Dock
“It’s disappointing that New Jersey Transit is producing reports to benefit NY Waterway’s corporate greed at the behest of their multi-millionaire CEO,” said Mayor Bhalla. “Nonetheless, NJ Transit’s conclusion that Bayonne could support a ferry maintenance facility supports what we’ve said all along – that there are viable alternate locations other than Union Dry Dock, which we urge NY Waterway to consider. Since we agree that there are other viable locations NY Waterway could use, the only reason for NJ Transit to intervene would be to use taxpayer money to pad the profits of a private company that makes millions off of our commuters.”
Earlier this month, the Hudson Superior Court dismissed New York Waterway’s lawsuit against the City of Hoboken, with Judge Jablonski referring to New York Waterway’s claim of a transportation crisis without Union Dry Dock as “unfounded.” New York Waterway owns the current site of their ferry maintenance facility from where it claims it is being evicted.
“If indeed [New York Waterway’s] inability to operate from Hoboken would raise those issues that would cause irreparable harm, they would have encountered them by now in that they have not been able to base their operations in Hoboken, and we are without a transportation crisis,” said Judge Jablonski.
Last year, Boswell Engineering commissioned a comprehensive study that demonstrated Hoboken Terminal is the most suitable site for a ferry maintenance facility, followed by the Bayonne Peninsula. In 2009, New Jersey Transit’s own analysis concluded Hoboken Terminal, as well as the Bayonne Peninsula as better suited than Union Dry Dock.
Additionally, Hudson County Elected Officials including Senator Brian Stack, Senator Nick Sacco, County Executive Tom DeGise, and Mayor Steve Fulop wrote a letter to Governor Phil Murphy supporting Hoboken Terminal as a more suitable location than Union Dry Dock.
Below is a letter from 15 environmental organizations urging governor Murphy to protect Hoboken’s waterfront
Dear Governor Murphy,
Thank you for your support in getting the S-1074 bill approved and signed into legislation. We are thrilled the bill broadens the public’s access to beaches and waterfront areas, enshrining into state law the public trust doctrine, a principle that holds that natural resources such as tidal waters and waterfronts are preserved for public use.
With this law now in place we ask you to honor its purpose and protect Hoboken Cove, the only natural sand beach on either side of the Hudson River south of the George Washington Bridge. For the past 30 years, the citizens of Hoboken and its elected officials have embodied the spirit of S-1074 in working together to create a contiguous, public waterfront park, going well beyond the state’s requirement for a 30-foot public walkway along the Hudson River. This has required an investment of tens of millions of dollars in private and public funds. There is only one missing link to completing the waterfront park’s 30 year vision, the former site of the Union Dry Dock located at Hoboken Cove. Since 2017, the City of Hoboken has committed to acquiring the site for public access, connecting Castle Point Park to Maxwell Place Park.
Hoboken Cove is an ecologically sensitive, intertidal zone where horseshoe crabs lay their eggs, diamondback terrapins can be found and scores of migratory fish have been identified. It is the home of the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, a volunteer organization that puts over 6,000 kayakers into this protected part of the Hudson River each year. Just to the south of the Union Dry Dock is a popular public fishing pier and a skateboard park, one of the few in the region. There is a children’s playground nearby at Maxwell Place Park where kids pass the day on swings and slides. Scores of runners, walkers and bicyclers utilize the multi-purpose path on a daily basis. In summary, the waterfront park at Hoboken Cove is a living breathing example of what the S-1074 legislation stands for.
Preserving Hoboken Cove for public use is now under attack with New York Waterway proposing to locate a ferry maintenance, refueling and berthing facility at the Union Dry Dock site. As stated this site is the final missing link to completing the 30 year vision of a continuous publicly accessible waterfront along the Hudson River coast. The ferry operator plans to operate 18 hours a day, 7 days per week, making an estimated 80 ferry trips daily to and from the depot. Most of these ferries operate with Tier 1 diesel engines, the most polluting class of marine engines. In addition, the City estimates that ferry crews commuting to work will be making 240 vehicular trips to the Hoboken waterfront. In summary, NYWW’s proposed use of the Hoboken Cove Union Dry Dock site is the antithesis of what S-1074 stands for.
In addition, exhaustive studies completed by NJ Transit (2009, Ferry Berthing and Maintenance Facility — Alternate Site Analysis) as well as the City of Hoboken (2018, Boswell Engineering) identified there are multiple sites more suitable than the Union Dry Dock at Hoboken Cove property. Both studies ranked first, by a considerable margin, the Hoboken Terminal, formerly known as the Erie Lackawanna Station. This 80-acre property, one of New Jersey’s premier multi-modal transportation hubs, is owned by NJ Transit and designated for transportation and maintenance purposes.
We the undersigned, on behalf of the citizens and elected officials of Hudson County, urge you to show the people of NJ that not only did you sign the S-1074 legislation you are enforcing it and putting it into action in protecting Hoboken Cove allowing the City of Hoboken to finalize a 30 year vision of giving the waterfront back to the people. NYWW can locate its ferry maintenance, berthing and refueling operations at Hoboken Terminal as detailed in the plans developed by NJ Transit in 2009, without interfering with any public use of the waterfront. The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway is routed through the train station at this location where it connects the public walk in Jersey City to Hoboken.
The decision on where to locate this ferry maintenance facility must be made by the State of New Jersey, not a private ferry operator. The facts as stated above should make this an easy decision for you to make. Show the people of NJ the S-1074 legislation is more than a signature, it’s a living breathing vision that will be brought to life.
Ron Hine, Executive Director, Fund for a Better Waterfront
Greg Remaud, Chief Executive Officer, NYNJ Baykeeper
Donald Stitzenberg, President, Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy
Janna Chernetz, Deputy Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Sam Pesin, President, Friends of Liberty State Park
Tim Dillingham, Executive Director, American Littoral Society
Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey
Captain Bill Sheehan, Hackensack Riverkeeper
Anne Poole, President, NJ Environmental Lobby
Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters
Jeff Tittel, Director, New Jersey Sierra Club
Dan Harrison, President, Hudson River Fishermen’s Association
John Weber, Mid Atlantic Regional Manager, Surfrider Foundation
Daniel E. Estrin, General Counsel & Advocacy Director, Waterkeeper Alliance
Michele Byers, Executive Director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation