May 23, 2018

Mayor Bhalla suspends eminent domain proceedings and urges Governor Murphy to cancel “emergency” NJ Transit meeting

Hoboken, NJ - Monday, April 2nd, 2018

New Jersey Transit will potentially acquire the Union Dry Dock property on Hoboken’s waterfront at an “emergency” meeting of its Board of Directors this Wednesday, April 4 at 2 p.m. in Newark, New Jersey.

Since learning about New Jersey Transit’s intention to acquire this property in Hoboken late last week, I have been in regular communication with the Governor’s office and other stakeholders. The so-called “emergency” requiring a special meeting is an offer to purchase the Union Dry Dock property made by Hoboken for $11.63 million, which requested a response within 14 days. It was from this offer that New Jersey Transit manufactured a legal fiction and “emergency” rush to buy the property before the expiration of the 14-day period, based on the false claim that Hoboken would be able to lawfully exercise eminent domain immediately thereafter.

To put this fear to rest, I extended this 14-day period by 45 days this past Friday, so the parties can discuss a compromise that met the dual interests of New Jersey Transit to sustain ferry commuter operations for the region, and consider serious environmental, planning, and other concerns from local Hoboken residents about the location of the proposed refueling, repair, and maintenance station. This good faith offer to find a compromise was rejected by New Jersey Transit in its letter to me last Saturday night.

After thoughtful consideration this weekend, I have decided to formally suspend the City of Hoboken’s legal effort to exercise eminent domain over the Union Dry Dock property in Hoboken, currently owned by New York Waterway. I am taking this action so that there can be no question that an “emergency” no longer exists, and to allow the parties, including Hoboken, to work cooperatively towards a solution that balances all valid interests.

This decision is in direct response to a proposal Governor Murphy made directly to me last week: suspend or withdraw eminent domain proceedings, and the board meeting will be cancelled so we can all get in a room this week and find a way forward.

I wholeheartedly agree with Governor Murphy that we all want to end up in the same place in finding a workable solution for everyone. By suspending eminent domain proceedings, I have met my end of the bargain and respectfully ask the Governor to do the same.  The emergency meeting should be cancelled so we may find a way forward that considers all legitimate interests.