On Tuesday, July 29, the greatest theft in history happened in Bayonne. The BLRA sold three valuable parcels of land on the MOT to the Port Authority for cheap. After so many years of nonsense it came down to a fire sale so the city could cover its budget hole and the property tax bills that were coming in August. These parcels of land are forever lost to the City of Bayonne due to the incompetence of the BLRA and our city officials.
Did the BLRA even bother to consider leasing the land? We no longer have any control over anything there anymore. The Port Authority is not paying any taxes or pilot program on the land, and if they decide to start a container fee program in the future then the PA will be getting all the monies and we won’t see one dollar of it going into city coffers. A private shipping firm APMT got a heck of a lot better deal than we did when it signed a 20-year lease agreement with the Virginia Port Authority for their port facility in Portsmouth, Virginia, for over a billion dollars. It makes one question, did the BLRA just basically take what the Port Authority offered and didn’t really bother negotiating for better terms? Now when the BLRA attorney gave some comments regarding the Virginia Ports deal, he seemed to have gotten his information wrong. I cannot say if he did it on purpose or he just looked in the wrong place. The attorney stated that a private firm was paying to rent the port facility from APMT and the deal wasn’t complete, which was wrong. The State of Virginia is the one paying the rent and the deal was signed in July.
The 9-11 memorial at the park at the end of the base will have to be moved now but where will the city place it and who will bear the cost of moving it and repositioning it? How about the contracts with the other developers who already singed on? Looks like one developer who gave $14 million to the BLRA plans on suing and who knows how many more will do it because of the BLRA breaching its contracts with them. Who will bear the costs associated with the lawsuits, the Port Authority or the Bayonne taxpayer? How about the $55 million that the U.S. Army is asking about or the $25 million owed to Fidelco/Roseland Corp?
Some of the speakers at the meeting said to approve this deal because it would provide jobs to city residents and other items but some of it seemed shortsighted. Who will want to live in Bayonne if the property taxes are eating up a good portion of your pay check? After the first payment of $40 million and the second payment of $100 some odd million in the second and third year payment and others following to the city will be reduced by a few million dollars. So what will the city do with the remaining budget deficit? We gave up any control of the land and container fees to the Port Authority. Any profits made from the port go straight to the Port Authority, not us.
How abut the cruise port terminal? How long before they decide to pack their bags and move somewhere else? Hopefully the Port Authority will make arrangements with Royal Caribbean so there are no disruptions to the passengers.
The BLRA still has yet to release information to the general public on who the other bidders were. What are they waiting for? The PA deal is none and the secrecy can end now. Maybe they figure any questions on who the other bidders were will just fade away.
The MOT port won’t probably be ready until a few years from now depending on the number of lawsuits and court proceedings. This deal is for a short term gain but not helping Bayonne long term. The BLRA and our city officials blundered big time here for the city. Will we ever get any answers to any questions? Only time will tell. Former Third Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa, said, “This could be the worst deal in the history of Bayonne,” regarding the potential deal, which he had no knowledge of. Well, he was right and in the future people will be saying what were they thinking? I applaud Councilman Greaves in abstaining from voting because he didn’t have all the information on the deal. I can tell you this, the Port Authority will be soon laughing all the way to the bank while the Bayonne taxpayer will be left holding the bag again.