Councilman Mike DeFusco in response makes an official release as part of his mayoral campaign and is included here as part of MSV's official policy available to all local elected officials.
Talking Ed Note: MSV understands the City Council subcommittee for the North End has attempted to meet and BEGIN discussions on this issue but to no avail. Each meeting set was cancelled by the mayor's office. While MSV has supported most of the mayor's major initiatives, this one is the latest example of the hyper partisan political environment in Hoboken. Most unfortunate.
MAYOR ZIMMER SEEKS TO ACQUIRE UNION DRY DOCK PROPERTY FOR WATERFRONT PARK
Based on discussions and written communications with Union Dry Dock, Mayor Dawn Zimmer has determined that it is important to expeditiously move ahead with the tools necessary to acquire the Union Dry Dock property for open space. The City was recently able to meet with the property owner of Union Dry Dock. Following the meeting, Union Dry Dock sent a letter advising the City that it is not legally able to even discuss a sale of the property to the City of Hoboken at this time.
As a result, the City Council will be asked to authorize the use of eminent domain for the acquisition of Union Dry Dock at next week's City Council meeting. The authorization simply provides the City with the tools necessary to facilitate negotiations and does not mean that eminent domain will be implemented. However, without this authorization, the City has no ability to even begin negotiations given the position taken by Union Dry Dock.
“In my experience with acquiring Block 12 for the Southwest Park and the 6-acre BASF property in Northwest Hoboken, it is not possible to acquire property without the City Council's authorization for eminent domain,” said Mayor Zimmer. “Given recent new factors that have come to light, it is important to move forward with this process at this time to expand our City's waterfront parks.”
The letter from Union Dry Dock can be viewed at: www.hobokennj.gov/docs/Union-Dry-Dock-Maraziti-9-22-17.pdf.
DeFusco Responds to Mayor Zimmer’s plan to use Eminent Domain to acquire Union Dry Dock property
Hoboken, NJ – Mayoral candidate and Councilman Mike DeFusco is releasing the following statement responding to Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s announcement today that she will seek City Council approval to begin eminent domain proceedings against the owner of the Union Dry Dock property on Sinatra Drive. Earlier this year, DeFusco announced a plan to build an Urban Beach and Floating Pool complex at the site, which would complete the city’s waterfront walkway, prevent residential development of the area and include commercial development to add to the city’s tax base. The outgoing mayor’s announcement comes just weeks before the November 7 mayoral election.
“After nine years in office, it’s great to see Mayor Zimmer finally come to realize how important it is for the city to acquire the Union Dry Dock site in the last few months of her term. However, her decision to abandon any pretense of a fair negotiation and move immediately to eminent domain proceedings would plunge us into yet another costly litigation with a city property owner. As we’ve seen time and again, this approach doesn't always result in a timely acquisition of property, as evidenced by the decade-long process of acquiring the recently opened Southwest Park, and can lead to outrageous legal fees our taxpayers have been exposed to in ill-fated court battles like the Monarch development.
My understanding is that the property owner is willing to begin a good faith negotiation, but not with this current administration and not before the upcoming election when our city’s leadership for the next four years will be decided. A negotiation of this magnitude shouldn’t be rushed into by a Mayor who already has one foot out the door. Similarly to the rushed Suez contract negotiation, this looks very much like a political stunt being staged six weeks from a Mayoral election, and is a prime example of why we need new energy and new ideas to solve challenging problems like completing our waterfront. Going with the same old ‘sue first, negotiate later’ approach championed by Mayor Zimmer and Ravi Bhalla will not solve our city’s problems.”