The knock-down drag out brawl On The Waterfront shows no signs of letting up, as Hoboken residents prepare to rally—yet again—this Saturday in protest of NY Waterway‘s proposed ferry fuel depot at the former Union Dry Dock location.
Organized by Fund for a Better Waterfront (FBW), the march is scheduled to begin at Pier A near the Hoboken Terminal at 10:00 a.m., then proceed along the waterfront, past the Union Dry Dock site, and end up at the adjacent Maxwell Park (roughly 11 blocks).
To date, the battle for Union Dry Dock—the 3.15 acre parcel of land that housed the last functioning maritime business on Hoboken’s once-bustling working waterfront—has been contentious, to say the least. In November 2017, ferry company NY Waterway bought the property for $11.5 million with the intention of using it for a ferry dock and repair station. The City of Hoboken had eyes on developing the property as a park, making for contiguous public access along the entirety of the city’s waterfront.
“The Union Dry Dock site is at risk. The multi-year effort to make it an integral part of Hoboken’s waterfront park would be forever lost if Governor Murphy decides that it should be the home of a ferry maintenance/refueling facility,” said FBW in a statement. “This industrial use is incompatible with the kayaking, fishing, skateboarding, jogging, cycling and other public recreational uses at this site as well as the residential housing nearby.”
The fight has gotten ugly since then, with numerous public rallies and calls to the Governor for intervention, as residents are concerned about “quality of life issues” stemming from a large diesel depot smack dab in the middle of the densely populated city.
In February, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla issued a Stop Work order, effectively preventing the ferry company from conducting all but minimal demolition/construction on the site.
“I’ll continue taking all necessary actions to preserve Union Dry Dock for public open space. Hoboken residents deserve a park, not a ferry refueling depot,” said Bhalla. “We need to do everything possible to protect our environment and our waterfront.”
Saturday’s event will be similar to the April 20, 2018 rally, which saw “hundreds” of residents turnout to voice their displeasure with the project.
Hundreds of concerned Hoboken residents came out for a rally to protect our waterfront. pic.twitter.com/wtP9dChBsy
— City of Hoboken (@CityofHoboken) April 20, 2018
A big issue among those familiar with the controversy is Governor Phil Murphy‘s continued hesitation to make a decision on the project. A study conducted on behalf of the City of Hoboken concluded in November that the Union Dry Dock site was less than ideal for NY Waterway’s intended use—stating that the Hoboken Terminal would be a preferred location.
At one point, Hoboken entertained the idea of exercising eminent domain in the dispute, but acquiesced to the Governor’s request to find a better way forward.
“Join the march and rally to send a message to Governor Murphy that this is absolutely the wrong place for this kind of activity at this unique, ecologically important site,” said FBW, “especially given the fact that there are other far more suitable locations for this ferry facility.”
Scheduled speakers at the rally include Noelle Thurlow of Resilience Paddle Sports, Jennifer Cox of the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, Sam Pesin of Friends of Liberty State Park, neighborhood resident Leslie Florio and local elected officials.