(UPDATED at 3:41 p.m.)
In Trenton today, NJ Transit officials who were scheduled to approve the purchase of Union Dry Dock for $11.5 million canceled their meeting—perhaps signifying a change in plans for the Hoboken Waterfront property.
***UPDATE: The meeting has been rescheduled for Friday at January 12 at 10 a.m.***
A dockyard fight had been brewing for months, as Hoboken weighed the option of exercising eminent domain to purchase the the 3.15-acre parcel of land known as Union Dry Dock & Repair Company—the last functioning maritime business on Hoboken’s once-bustling working waterfront, located on Sinatra Drive, between the Skate Park and Maxwell Park.
That fight escalated in November, when it was announced that NY Waterway had purchased the property. NJ Transit subsequently advised the City that it would be entering into an agreement with NY Waterway for the option to purchase the property and leasing it to NY Waterway as a repair station for its ferry fleet.
The City of Hoboken objected to the move, issuing a statement that read:
“NJ TRANSIT has raised fares twice and raided billions of dollars from its capital fund to pay for operations over the last 8 years, so it’s outrageous that, despite its acute financial challenges, it is considering spending millions of dollars on a plan that would permanently scar our waterfront.”
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla had traveled to Trenton earlier this week, joined by staff members, Hoboken City Council members and representatives from Fund for a Better Waterfront—who had long been advocating acquisition of this property.
Spent the morning in Trenton advocating in support of a continuous waterfront in #Hoboken. My hope is @NJTRANSIT will hit the pause button on their deal to purchase Union Dry Dock and instead work with the community to come up with a solution that works for everyone. pic.twitter.com/7kr9tWPAcE
— Ravinder S. Bhalla (@RaviBhalla) January 8, 2018
The outcry and pressure where seemingly significant enough to cancel today’s meeting. With a lack of quorum, the Board was unable to convene—thereby presenting the possibility of an acquisition by the City of Hoboken.
Bhalla declared today’s events a “HUGE victory.”
Union Dry Dock bought the Hoboken property in 1976, moving operations there in the 1980s.
Previous efforts to sell the land have fallen through. In 2001, Stevens Institute of Technology planned to construct a soccer field on the site. In 2005, there was a $15 million contract for the property, but the buyer backed out. In 2009, a developer hoped to build residential towers on the land, but local zoning didn’t permit it. In 2012, New Jersey Transit also considered obtaining the land for NY Waterway’s ferry maintenance and refueling.
The Hoboken City Council had previously approved a measure to exercise eminent domain for this property, hoping to develop a park that would make for a contiguous stretch of public land all along the Hoboken Waterfront.