Community: Letter from Mayor Bhalla to Residents of Hoboken Regarding Union Dry Dock Property
I am forwarding to you the attached letter from New Jersey Transit (NJT) Executive Director Kevin Corbett, which I received last night at 6:30 p.m., informing me of New Jersey Transit’s intention to acquire the Union Dry Dock site in Hoboken from New York Waterway this Wednesday at 2 p.m. at an emergency meeting of its Board of Trustees.
It is disappointing that NJT deems it appropriate to send me a letter on a Saturday night before Easter about taking such an action while the district schools are closed for Spring Break and many families – mine included – are away for the holiday break. Last year, Governor Murphy called New Jersey Transit a “national disgrace.” Unfortunately, in terms of transparency, actions like these demonstrate that the agency has yet to make the changes it needs in how operates. It’s an insult to the public for NJT to be making such important decisions under the cover of darkness and with no meaningful opportunity for public input.
While Director Corbett’s letter blames bad weather for our failure to meet regarding a Bayonne option in the month of March, the record reflects that my persistent attempts to have the meeting he refers to were hijacked by the Governor’s office.
The remainder of Director Corbett’s letter is a rational policy argument on the need to consider regional transit interests and NJT’s responsibility to sustain the transit system, including ferry operation, in the larger public interest. This is an interest everyone understands and appreciates, especially the residents of Hoboken, as we rely on dependable ferry service every working day.
The elephant in the room that Director Corbett avoids is the fact that NJT’s acquisition of the UDD property will shield New York Waterway from the City of Hoboken’s ability to exercise eminent domain for the purpose of, in the long run, preserving this waterfront land as open space for the public benefit. In other words, this acquisition by NJT will deprive Hoboken and its residents from having its rightful seat at the table, and a legitimate local voice, in the larger regional planning process.
I will speak more on this specific topic (eminent domain) tomorrow morning, stay tuned. The City of Hoboken will also provide details on Monday for buses it will be providing free of charge to Hoboken residents who seek to attend NJT’s Board Meeting this coming Wednesday. I urge you all to attend the Board Meeting and make your voices heard. I hope to see you there.
Very Truly Yours,
Ravi S. Bhalla
Mayor, City of Hoboken