Monday, January 8, 2018

Councilwoman Jen Giattino: "Hoboken needs your help"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors - 
In September of 2012 Mayor Zimmer and I sent a letter to Governor Christie, Commissioner Simpson, and Executive Director Weinstein regarding NJ Transit's acquisition of Union Dry Dock. Executive Director Weinstein responded that NJ Transit was no longer looking to acquire Union Dry Dock nor would they be in the future (letters are attached below).
Although, I cannot attend tomorrow's hearing in Trenton, I have asked Mayor Bhalla and Councilwoman Fisher to incorporate Executive Director Weinstein's 2012 letter into the record.
Please take a few moments to forward the template letter below to NJ Transit officials and state legislators. NJ Transit has a meeting on 1/10 and is scheduled to vote on the acquisition of Union Dry Dock. Your voice matters, so please take the time.
Who to send it to:

Please email your letter directly to the following ASAP:
And cc:
Copy/Template for you to write a letter:  
January 7, 2018

NJ Transit Board of Directors
Attn:  Chairman Richard T. Hammer
One Penn Plaza East
Newark, NJ 07105

Dear NJ Transit Board of Directors,

At the January 10, 2018 board meeting you will be voting to determine if NJ Transit should spend $11.5M in public dollars to acquire the option to purchase the Union Dry Dock (UDD) property in Hoboken to advance the plans by NY Waterway (NYWW) to locate a facility for repair, maintenance, fleet storage, refueling and storage of fuel/hazardous materials at the site.  I implore you to vote NO.  As a public entity funded with direct operating assistance from the taxpayers of NJ this would be a gross misuse of public funds for a project lacking NJDEP approval, US Army Corp of Engineers approval as well as containing strong public opposition due to legitimate safety and environmental concerns.  Ferry service is an important mode of transportation for our region however, moving forward with the option now would not only be premature but would also call into question the proper exercise of your fiduciary obligations.

To date NYWW has been disingenuous in their approach to acquiring this property as well as in their applications to both state and local government agencies to execute the new use case of the land.  I have strong concerns with NJ Transit using public funds to aid and expedite a private company’s avoidance of local land use laws.  In 2012, NJ Transit publicly committed to not pursuing the Union Dry Dock property for this exact use case.  Moving forward with this proposal would be a direct breach of that public commitment.  In addition, NYWW’s provisional permit application to the NJDEP was so deeply flawed and misleading they withdrew the submission.

Concerns the board should seriously consider:  
  • NYWW’s misrepresentation of the land use case:  Based on applications to the NJDEP and US Army Corps of Engineers, NYWW has grossly misstated the use case claiming it remains the same as the UDD operation.  That could not be further from the truth.  UDD performed long term repairs on no more than a few ships a week with operating hours of 8am-5pm.  NYWW is seeking an 18 hour per day operation with 34 vessels estimating 80 trips per day.  The desired use case from NYWW will require an individual permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers which to date they have not obtained.        
  • Lack of Transparency:  NYWW, NJ Transit and the NJDEP as public entities have the obligation to fully disclose all details about the planned property transaction and the accurate full description of the property’s use inclusive of true traffic intensity, facility services and all environmental impacts consistent with a ferry fueling, maintenance, sanitary disposal and storage facility, as well as the sediment contamination from the prior UDD operations.  NYWW’s less than transparent actions in moving forward with this process are questionable at best, raise legitimate concerns about this property acquisition and use, and beg the public to wonder what motivations are driving the desire for a unnecessarily quick and superficial approval strongly lacking in detail.    
  • Threat to Safe Recreation and Quality of Life:  The waterfront and harbor directly surrounding the dry dock property experiences heavy recreational use, including the only beach on the Hudson waterfront, a kayak launch, jet skiers, small sail boat traffic and sport fishing.  This is a direct and positive result of the Waterfront Preservation efforts of the last 3 decades.  Over 800 homes are located next to the property.  Currently activity at the Dry Dock can be heard in the homes.  The  proposed 18 hour daily operation by NYWW endangers the quality of life for residents in their homes, and to the broader public who actively use the waterfront and harbor.  In addition the proposed use of NYWW  buses in and out of the site threatens public safety of the walkway used daily by runners, bikers and parents walking small children in strollers.         

In public comments NYWW leaders have stated “there is no other location”.  This is yet another gross mischaracterization by NYWW.  Bayonne/MOTBY is an appropriate location welcomed by the Bayonne Community for many reasons including:
  • MOTBY is owned by PANYNJ and intended for industrial maritime use with the proper infrastructure to quickly and properly accommodate a ferry fueling, maintenance and storage facility.   
  • MOTBY provides NYWW the opportunity to expand ferry service along Hudson County waterfront increasing ferry ridership in an unserved, densely populated area.  Ferry service out of MOTBY offers a necessary mass transit option that must be pursued to proactively address population growth.  
  • Solving long term transportation challenges from western NJ:  Bus traffic from western NJ can be easily routed to Bayonne to alleviate severe traffic congestion from major regional transportation construction projects (Route 495/Paterson Plank Construction Project and Lincoln Tunnel Helix Rehabilitation) over the next decade and alleviate impacts to the PANYNJ Bus Terminal.        

In summary there are a myriad of reasons to refrain from placing the UDD proposal on the January 10th agenda.  If a vote does in fact take place, I once again implore you to honor your fiduciary commitment to the people of the State of NJ to provide safe, economical and  environmentally sound transportation solutions.  I urge you to vote NO.    



Mr. Steven Santoro
Executive Director, NJ Transit
One Penn Plaza East
Newark, NJ 07105

- Jen