Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Mayor Ravi Bhalla on UDD: 'Sound the retreat!'

Official release:

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR BHALLA SUSPENDING EMINENT DOMAIN PROCEEDINGS ON UNION DRY DOCK PROPERTY AND URGING GOVERNOR MURPHY TO CANCEL “EMERGENCY” MEETING 

New Jersey Transit will potentially acquire the Union Dry Dock property on Hoboken’s waterfront at an "emergency" meeting of its Board of Directors this Wednesday, April 4 at 2 p.m. in Newark, New Jersey.

Since learning about New Jersey Transit's intention to acquire this property in Hoboken late last week, I have been in regular communication with the Governor's office and other stakeholders.

The so-called "emergency" requiring a special meeting is an offer to purchase the Union Dry Dock property made by Hoboken for $11.63 million, which requested a response within 14 days. It was from this offer that New Jersey Transit manufactured a legal fiction and "emergency" rush to buy the property before the expiration of the 14-day period, based on the false claim that Hoboken would be able to lawfully exercise eminent domain immediately thereafter.

To put this fear to rest, I extended this 14-day period by 45 days this past Friday, so the parties can discuss a compromise that met the dual interests of New Jersey Transit to sustain ferry commuter operations for the region, and consider serious environmental, planning, and other concerns from local Hoboken residents about the location of the proposed refueling, repair, and maintenance station. This good faith offer to find a compromise was rejected by New Jersey Transit in its letter to me last Saturday night.

After thoughtful consideration this weekend, I have decided to formally suspend the City of Hoboken's legal effort to exercise eminent domain over the Union Dry Dock property in Hoboken, currently owned by New York Waterway. I am taking this action so that there can be no question that an "emergency" no longer exists, and to allow the parties, including Hoboken, to work cooperatively towards a solution that balances all valid interests.
This decision is in direct response to a proposal Governor Murphy made directly to me last week: suspend or withdraw eminent domain proceedings, and the board meeting will be canceled s,o we can all get in a room this week and find a way forward.

I wholeheartedly agree with Governor Murphy that we all want to end up in the same place in finding a workable solution for everyone. By suspending eminent domain proceedings, I have met my end of the bargain and respectfully ask the Governor to do the same. The emergency meeting should be canceled so we may find a way forward that considers all legitimate interests.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla sounds the retreat on Union Dry Dock but NJ Governor Phil Murphy may not find the overplayed hand for domestic Hoboken politics all that persuasive. Being called out by Mayor Ravi Bhalla only makes it worse.

Talking Ed Note: So guess what? On Union Dry Dock, the City of Hoboken doesn't hold the cards, doesn't have an ace up its sleeve and can't trump NJ Transit using eminent domain.

So how did we get here and why is Hoboken about 24 hours from having its ass handed to it?

Well, politics. When you play it badly and alienate people left and right because you think you're so great at playing politics; this is what you get. Mayor Ravi Bhalla begging publicly for Governor Phil Murphy to walk his way while sounding the retreat is a fool's game.

Trying to publicly shame Governor Phil Murphy into stopping NJ Transit isn't exactly a good strategy, even if it's for domestic consumption to uptown residents especially at Maxwell Place.

The common good is the common good and all the so-called "solutions" about NY Waterway told to refuel their boats in Bayonne, in the middle of the Hudson or in Brooklyn are not solutions, they're cries of NIMBY. 30,000 commuting customers can't be so easily dismissed and wished away with phony solutions.

While Ravi Bhalla knew this going in, he thinks it will benefit him politically in Hoboken. That miscalculation could cost Hoboken more in the future as it finds itself alienated from HudCo support for the next two years and now with the sitting NJ governor who won't appreciate the attempted game being run on him.

This has all the earmarks of playing out a bad hand and one must marvel at the shadowy stupidity bringing Hoboken to this awful position so quickly. It's absolutely tone-deaf.

The only question outstanding, how many are on the list being deceived in the process? That could be a long list inclusive of Maxwell Place, the second ward and all of Hoboken. Has the Mile Square City seen lost the possibility no matter how remote of a compromise solution for a refueling station down near the PATH?

Playing politics is fun but you have to know how. Don't call out the better player on the big stage when you're sitting with a pair of crazy eights. That's just plain dumb.

Update: According to another in the latest City release on UDD, NJ Transit will not hold their meeting tomorrow to override Hoboken's previous but now suspended eminent domain action.

The Tuesday morning release says Bayonne is under consideration by unnamed "officials" but this doesn't sound economically viable with added costs of ferries traveling.

Discussions continue is where it stands. Hoboken retreated from its foolhardy eminent domain action and NY Waterway has not altered its plans.

Update 2: According to the Hudson County View, the NJ Transit meeting is officially moved not canceled from Wednesday to Thursday at 2:00 pm. Pending the City Council's action Wednesday rescinding eminent domain, NJ Transit will then cancel its scheduled Thursday meeting.