At the Hoboken City Council meeting on Wednesday, February 1st, an agreement was reached to allow the New York Waterway company to lease property at the site of the Union Dry Dock. The parcel of land was recently acquired by the City of Hoboken, and this agreement allows NYWW to continue operations as it builds out a new site elsewhere. Eventually, the land will become a public park in the North end of Hoboken. Read on to learn more about the agreement.
About the Agreement
For five years, the City of Hoboken has been working to update the Union Dry Dock site in northern Hoboken. In December 2022, the City took ownership of the site. The debate over the parcel has a long history, and now it will be used as a public space called Maritime Park.
At the City Council meeting on February 1st, Councilmembers voted on an agreement with the New York Waterway Company (NYWW) to come up with lease terms that would allow the company to continue operations until it finds a new location. NYWW is a ferry company that provides service on over a dozen routes on the Hudson and East Rivers. The company was founded in 1986 and its ferry service is a popular commuter option.
Some of the main provisions in the lease include:
1) A period of approximately three years to conduct temporary ferry maintenance operations. This time period can potentially be extended by no more than two years at the request of NYWW.
2) The lease conditioned on NYWW receiving all building and zoning permits from the City of Hoboken, which can be anticipated that they will receive given the existing zoning that allows for industrial uses, as well as permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to temporarily utilize Union Dry Dock, both of which the town has full confidence will be granted.
3) Storage of approximately 20 ferry boats onsite overnight, with maintenance and repairs of the boats as the primary use of the site.
4) Operations between the hours of 6AM and 10PM, with starting, operating, and moving ferryboats permitted outside of these hours.
5) On-site parking and access to the site of employees of NYWW.
6) Construction of temporary improvements to the bulkhead and piers, to allow for various ferry maintenance and repair operations, as well as other site utility upgrades.
7) Limited secondary refueling operations, which are only permitted when its current primary fueling station outside of Hoboken is not available for use and are anticipated to take place for a short time when the primary fueling station is upgraded. All limited secondary refueling operations are required to take place by land with fuel trucks, unless there is an emergency.
8) NYWW’s operations will be concentrated on the southern end of the Union Dry Dock land, with no operations on the north side of the north pier in Hoboken Cove. This will also allow the City to begin the process of expanding Sinatra Drive, as a part of the Sinatra Drive redesign project to revitalize the waterfront roadway
NYWW has indicated that boats will primarily be moved offsite during early morning hours and returned to the site during the later evening hours.
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The Hoboken City Council approved a lease agreement with New York Waterway on first reading by a 7-1-1 vote. Councilmembers Mike DeFusco, Mike Russo, Ruben Ramos, Phil Cohen, Emily Jabbour, Jim Doyle, and Joe Quintero voted in favor. Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher abstained. Councilwoman Jen Giattino voted against the first-reading ordinance.
The agreement will be voted upon again at the Council’s meeting on February 15th.
Statement from the Mayor
In a statement released the day after the meeting, Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla painted the vote as a victory, even though not everyone is thrilled about it. “While I know that NYWW temporarily utilizing Union Dry Dock for various operations is not what everyone wants to see at the site, and it may have some inconveniences in the near future, I truly believe this compromise is in the best interests of both Hoboken residents who want to see a permanent park at this site, and ensuring NYWW’s ferry operations are able to continue functioning at a high level, and at the very least, functioning at all. At the end of the day, this compromise and lease is the fastest, most convenient, and cooperative way to build out a park without additional delays and minimizing risks of further litigation.”
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Mayor Bhalla has pushed for this deal for a long time and described transitioning the property to a public park as one of his highest mayoral priorities.
The second and final reading of the agreement will take place at the City Council meeting on February 15th. After that, the Mayor anticipates starting a series of public meetings where residents will be invited to give feedback about the park’s design.