Ferry service is critical to the economic well-being of both sides of the Hudson River. The plan for an uninterrupted, waterfront park along the Hudson is critical to the well-being of Hoboken. The two are not mutually exclusive. A year ago NJ Transit, a public entity, and NY Waterway, a privately owned ferry service, hatched a secret plan to locate a diesel refueling depot, major repair operation, boat storage, and sanitary wastewater disposal facility at the Union Dry Dock site on Sinatra Drive between Maxwell Place Park and the skateboard park.
Last November, NY Waterway bought Union Dry Dock for $11.5 million. Last January and again in April, without any discussions with the City of Hoboken, NJ Transit was poised to acquire the site and lease it back to the ferry operator. Fortunately, Mayor Bhalla with overwhelming support from the Hoboken community was able to thwart the NJ Transit Board from acting. Of great significance is the fact that by locating a refueling/maintenance facility at this site, the unique, natural, sandy beach just to the north of Union Dry Dock would be made unusable due to pollution in the air and water. No other beach like this exists along the Hudson River south of the George Washington Bridge. Each year, thousands of people are able to kayak and paddleboard here. Just as important are the prime fishing spot and Skateboard Park immediately to the south. These and many other public areas and activities would come to a halt or be seriously diminished.
Finally, city residents’ goal of a contiguous waterfront park along the entirety of Hoboken’s riverfront would be eliminated for generations to come. NY Waterway insists there is no other feasible location; we know this is not true. NY Waterway also claims the move must happen quickly or it will go out of business forcing thousands to find alternative transportation. Both of these assertions are bogus. Fund for a Better Waterfront (FBW) has uncovered a 2009 NJ Transit study entitled “Ferry Berthing and Maintenance Facility – Alternative Site Analysis” listing nine possible locations.
Ranked number 1 is a site owned by NJ Transit adjacent to the south side of the Erie Lackawanna Terminal and identified in the study as Hoboken South. A total of five sites are considered more suitable than Union Dry Dock. The study is available on our website, betterwaterfront.org. FBW also has copies of permits issued by both NJDEP and the Army Corps of Engineers giving the green light to operate ferry refueling and maintenance from Hoboken South.
This site can be ready to go sooner and at a lower cost to taxpayers. It’s the right location, at the right price, and at the right time. Governor Murphy promised Hoboken a fair and transparent process in selecting a site for the ferry refueling and maintenance. Now, we find out the study has already been done and the premiere site is Hoboken South. What is he waiting for?