EXCLUSIVE: Hoboken Mayor Zimmer says NJ Transit declined to give her public document; agency wants to build train stop across from Rockefeller Group property
Feb 20, 2014 | 5149 views | 1 1 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOBOKEN – Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who made national headlines when she accused members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration of threatening to withhold Sandy aid from the city unless she shepherded a development project on land owned by the Rockefeller Group, is now questioning the forthrightness of the state’s largest public transit entity about a not-very-public agreement it made last spring with Rockefeller to build a new light rail station at 16th and Clinton streets.

On Wednesday, Zimmer told the Reporter that NJ Transit, the entity that oversees the Hudson Bergen Light Rail system, had not provided a site plan related to its agreement with the Rockefeller Group, which the city has requested using the state's Open Public Records Act.

Zimmer only found out that NJ Transit and Rockefeller agreed about the station from a New York Times article three weeks ago. She then filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) with NJ Transit to procure the agreement.

NJ Transit provided the June 21 agreement, she said, but not the attached site plan.

“They’re still not giving up all of the documents related to this agreement,” she said. “All we’ve got is the memorandum of understanding; not the site plan.”

NJ Transit and Rockefeller both own property near 15th Street in the northern section of Hoboken. The light rail tracks already run through that area, and have three prior stops in Hoboken.

A copy of the agreement received by the Reporter is dated last June 21. In the agreement, NJ Transit and Rockefeller both agree to try to obtain certain approvals to construct the "station and associated access improvements." The station would run from 16th to 17th streets between Clinton and Grand streets along the existing tracks. Rockefeller's job is to get city approvals to extend the "paper streets" that terminate in that area so that they connect to the station. The agreement states that Rockefeller (under the name Park Willow, LLC) has already completed feasibility studies.

The apparent intent of the agreement is to share the burden of conducting studies, obtaining approvals, etc. Although the report suggests that the station would be built on NJTransit's property, it would greatly benefit Rockefeller's future developments to have a train station across the street.

The agreement refers to a site plan as "exhibit A," but Zimmer said Thursday that a NJ Transit official told her that the site plan could not be located. She also said that her next move will be to ask the Rockefeller Group, a private entity not under the jurisdiction of OPRA law, for the same documents. Zimmer said recently that despite her allegations against the Christie administration, she hopes to include the Group in any plans to redevelop the northwest section of town.

“I can’t OPRA the documents from them, but I’m hoping they’ll be forthcoming,” she said.

Bill Smith, a spokesman for NJ Transit, declined to comment about the mayor’s OPRA request.

Pick up this weekend's Hoboken Reporter to read more about this story. Comment below or email deand@hudsonreporter.com or editorial@hudsonreporter.com. – Dean DeChiaro

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February 21, 2014
Is "OPRA" a verb?

Tit for tat, Mayor. Your administration refuses OPRA requests regularly. Now you know how it feels.