Monday, January 5, 2015

Councilman Bhalla: We'll oppose Port Authority proposal in resolution Wednesday

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RaviHS

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this note finds you well and that you had a wonderful 2014!

I am writing during this holiday season to bring to your attention a very serious issue facing Hoboken. As you may have heard, a Bi-State Special Panel was convened to examine the Port Authority's operations and has floated the idea of terminating overnight PATH service.

At the next City Council meeting on Wednesday, January 7th, I will be introducing a resolution on this topic. Among the concerns expressed in the resolution is the potential impact of eliminating late night PATH service upon the feasibility of the New Jersey Transit Railyards Development Plan. The Mayor, City Council, residents and many stakeholders just recently undertook a lengthy and costly process of approving a redevelopment plan that includes an additional 2.3 million square feet of development at the doorstep of the Hoboken PATH station. It is reasonable to believe this was done with the expectation that the Port Authority would continue to honor, if not grow, its PATH service commitments to accommodate the increased usage anticipated by the plan. 

For this reason, I have serious concerns about whether eliminating overnight service will adversely impact the market feasibility of the plan, and whether the Special Panel's recommendation will result in a depreciation of the value of New Jersey Transit's land. Most importantly, I am concerned about whether and how these unanticipated circumstances can ultimately result in demands for increased height and density from the developer, or the elimination of givebacks to the residents of the City of Hoboken. These issues need to be openly explored and discussed before taking any further steps towards implementation of the redevelopment plan. It is critical for the Port Authority to consider the potentially disastrous impact the Special Panel's recommendation could have upon the pace of the development of NJ Transit's property and the feasibility of moving forward with the plan in its current form, in the future.

To this end, the City Council is reaching out to its redevelopment legal counsel to discuss these issues and ascertain what legal options and remedies the City of Hoboken may have to preserve its interests in maintaining the integrity of the NJ Transit Redevelopment Plan adopted earlier this month. It is equally important for the Mayor and City Council, Port Authority, and New Jersey Transit to commence a meaningful dialogue on this topic to ensure that the interests of the residents of Hoboken and New Jersey Transit are not inadvertently undermined by the Special Panel's recommendation.

Finally, I was also happy to submit a letter to the editor on the general topic of potential cuts to PATH service, and speak with NJTV on Tuesday for a story that discusses the impact of this potential decision. 

As always, if you have any questions or need assistance, please contact me at (201) 647-6090 or e-mail me at councilmanbhalla@gmail.com

I wish you and your family a Happy New Year and best wishes for 2015!

Sincerely,
Ravinder S. Bhalla
Councilman-at-Large