Monday, January 8, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher "We need your voice"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors,
This is an important week for Hoboken's three decade fight to keep our waterfront for public use and enjoyment.  I will join Mayor Bhalla this morning in Trenton along with Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro, members of Fund for a Better Waterfront and Hoboken Quality of Life Coalitionand several Hoboken neighbors for a press conference to stress the importance this is to our community, and to pledge to work with NJ Transit, NY Waterway and other stakeholders in partnership to find the best solution that will allow us to preserve our waterfront, yet support the expansion of waterway transportation alternatives.  
How you can make your voice matter in this important issue for Hoboken:
-          Sign the petition
-          Send a letter to NJ Transit and elected officials
-          Attend the NJ Transit Board Meeting on January 10th in Newark.
Please join over 1,500 people who have already signed the petition calling for New York Waterway and New Jersey Transit to abandon their plans to acquire Union Dry Dock for ferry repair, maintenance, fleet storage, refueling and storage of fuel/hazardous materials.
Send a letter to officials at NJ Transit as well as our state legislature representatives. A form letter is provided below for you to cut and paste as is, and/or edit to provide your own personal thoughts. 
Join us on Wednesday, January 10th, when NJ Transit are having a special board meeting where it is anticipated that among other things, they will vote on acquiring the UDD site from NY Waterway.  This will be the last meeting before our new Governor is inaugurated the following week.   NJ Transit as a state government entity working with NY Waterway can avoid all local land use laws. Residents, government officials and local activists have worked for decades to complete the waterfront park system creating enjoyable recreation for all to enjoy. NY Waterway's proposed plan would be detrimental to realizing this vision for a continuous waterfront park.
Why are NJ Transit pursuing this?  To provide NY Waterway with certainty for their ongoing operations given they have no immediate alternative than to leave their site in Weehawken sometime in the next few months.  And with the backdrop of the recent pause to the Hudson Tunnel / Gateway Project due to lack of funding / lack of support from President Trump, NJ Transit, like most others, will be anxious about the imminent disruption to rail service in and out of New York. And as a result, they are focused on trans-Hudson ferry service as an alternative to expand transportation capacity.  With this in mind, Hoboken, with its many current and potential transportation assets, has an opportunity to work together with both NJ Transit and NY Waterway, and other communities, agencies and transportations companies, to help identify both near and longer term solutions that will make sense for all stakeholders. 
Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions at or 201-208-1674.  And please join your neighbors and make your voice heard, because more voices are always better.
Thank you, 
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”
If sending a letter - Please email your letter directly to the following ASAP:
-          NJ Transit Board -
-          Paul Wyckoff, Deputy Executive Director NJ Transit –
-          Eric Daleo, Assist ED of Capital Projects –
-          John Leon, Government Relations NJ Transit –
-          Steven Santoro, Executive Director NJ Transit –
-          Richard Hammer, Commissioner NJ DOT -
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