The Mile Square Continues Protests For Union Dry Dock Site
The city of Hoboken continues the battle to save the Union Dry Dock (UDD) from being in the hands of New Jersey Transit. Although New Jersey Transit desires to purchase the piece of land from NYWW, the company wants to lease it back to them. In a recent Mayor and Council meeting, Mayor Ravi Bhalla presented an offer letter to the council stating his offer of $11.63 million to New York Water Way (NYWW) for the UDD site, according to the New York Times. The UDD site is currently owned by the NYWW and was utilized as a dry dock for restoring barges and is considered to be the only remaining industrial waterfront in Hoboken since all of the working docks and factories located in the city's waterfront were replaced by parks, offices, and apartment buildings. The NYWW is currently planning to use the site as the center of operation for refueling, repairing, storage and pumping sanitary waste its ferries, as well as a parking lot for 150 employees that can actually be built from what it is currently zoned at. When Mayor Bhalla submitted an offer letter to NYWW, the Eminent Domain process began. In Bhalla's offer letter, a statuary requirement was embedded which stated that NYWW should respond to the offer within 14 days. Bhalla extended the 14-day period to 45 days this past Friday in order for all parties to discuss a compromise which will meet both the interests of New Jersey Transit and Hoboken residents. New Jersey Transit, however, rejected Bhalla's offer. Therefore, Bhalla suspended the eminent domain proceedings on the UDD site. To add on, he suspended the process due to a proposal Governor Phil Murphy made to him, which was to suspend or withdraw eminent domain proceedings in order for the board meeting in Newark to be canceled so all parties can sit down this week to discuss a way to move forward with the UDD site. New Jersey Transit has a higher political jurisdiction than NYWW, which is why they want to acquire the UDD site. Back in 2012, New Jersey Transit issued a letter to Mayor Dawn Zimmer that stated they would not purchase the site, however on January 15, New Jersey Transit did not cast a vote on acquiring the piece of land. Overall, if New Jersey Transit acquires the UDD site, the project the company has for the site can be much more expansive since the company is considered a quasi-governmental agency. Due to New Jersey Transit's governmental status, they are actually in a better position rather than private property owners that are granted variances from the city's local zoning rules. Therefore, New Jersey Transit may have a bigger project in mind for the UDD site than what NYWW is currently planning for it. There can be a possibility for the city's waterfront and streets encountering signs of pollution and erosion if New Jersey Transit acquires the site. If not canceled, the New Jersey Transit Board will hold a special meeting on April 4 at 2 pm at the New Jersey Transit Headquarters Building in Newark to consider and vote on New Jersey Transit's acquisition of the UDD site. Thinking of attending the event? Signup for the Bus to the NJT Board Meeting on 4/4, Departing from 1025 Maxwell at 1pm.
- Aida Toro