Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "It's a big day for Hoboken"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:  
On this gorgeous night tonight, please join your neighbors at 5th and Hudson and lend your support for defending and keeping a Diesel Depot from locating on the middle of our waterfront.  We ALL want NYWW ferries, we just want their fueling, storage and maintenance operations to find an alternative site to the former Union Dry Dock site which is amidst our ever evolving public, residential and recreational waterfront.   
What:  Army Corps of Engineers – Public Hearing
When:  6-9pm
Where:  Debaun Auditorium (5th and Hudson)
Why you need to come:  
The USACOE needs to know that this is important to Hoboken.  If no one comes, then they will think it is NOT important.  Don’t rely on just your neighbor to fill a seat for you.  WE NEED BOTH SEATS FILLED!  You don’t have to speak, you can sit in the audience.  You can arrive and leave anytime between 6-9.  We are hoping people will be there early for a larger crowd when most of the public officials and experts will speak, but if you can only come at 845 please do! 
What to expect at a public hearing:  
  • At a public hearing, the agency, in this case the USACOE, will sit at a table and receive comments from the public.  Other than introductions about the process, it is not a presentation, nor a back and forth.  
  • Those wishing to speak will sign in when they arrive on a speaker list and then will find a seat in the audience.  If you have not been, DeBaun is an auditorium so the seating is theatre seating.
  • In terms of order of speakers, the USACOE will follow the order below.  We expect most of these to speak at the beginning.  The USACOE will call the names of speakers and SPEAKERS WILL ONLY GET 3 MINUTES TO SPEAK:
    • Applicant first to describe only scope of work (NYWW).
    • Elected officials and their representatives / professionals in hierarchal order (tonight will include Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro, Mayor Bhalla, myself, Hoboken's engineers and attornies, and possibly others).
    • Native American Tribal representatives (if any).
    • Organized environmental groups (eg. Fund for Better Waterfront).
    • Organized citizen groups (eg. Hoboken Residents for a Better Waterfront, Resilience Paddleboard, Hoboken Cove).
    • Private Citizens (in order of arrival).
  • If you come, you don’t have to speak.  You can come and just sit in the hearing and lend your support by being present.
What are the talking points and issues:
The USACOE is specifically focused on the public and environmental impact.  This can be the impact on those who live nearby and / or enjoy the recreational facilities in the area to the many water species found in the area to environmental contamination and any and all in between.  
A big issue for the USACOE and for us is whether or not NYWW’s operations are in fact a material CHANGE IN USE at the site that would trigger more thorough site/soil/sediment testing and investigation than if there was no change in use.  NYWW are arguing that there is no change in use.  I am told that those who live near the site saw boats coming and going from the site 2-4 TIMES PER WEEK!  But what is being proposed by NYWW is 80 TIMES PER DAY.
Talking points for YOU to consider:
  • Your experience living near or visiting the site and how the new fueling operations will change that.
  • Your fears about a NY Waterway Ferry striking and potentially killing a kayaker / paddleboarder that launches from Hoboken Cove not unlike the NY Waterway ferry that struck kayakers in 2016.
  • our concerns about contamination on the site from the historical use that may not be stirred up because the significant increase in boat activity.
  • Your concerns about having a DIESEL DEPOT adjacent to parks and schools where children and families play 
    • Elysian Park, Maxwell Park, Hoboken Cove, Montessori School, Skate Park, Fishing Pier, Multi Use Path, Bike Lanes on Sinatra Drive;
    • consider fuel spills both in the water and on land; and
    • that the significant fueling operations is a MATERIAL USE CHANGE vs. Union Dry Dock.
  • Your observations that having a dry dock facility (prior use) that maintains 2-4 boats per week seems significantly different than one that will refuel an entire fleet of >20 boats and have capacity to moor 20 boats today.
  • Your concerns about NYWW expanding their operations over time.  Today NYWW are seeking approval to store 10 boats daily that they say would require 40 daily trips.  But their maps actually show that the facilities will accomodate 20 boats.  What will this look like over time? Once NYWW is there, the analysis to expand will be an incremental one – so only looking at the incremental impact at that time, not the cumulative one.
  • Your understanding that there are alternative sites, and that a 2009 study by NJ Transit (attached) actually shows Hoboken’s Lackawana terminal as the #1 choice for ferry operations.  Click HERE to learn more from FBW.
  • Your observation that this is a private vs. public interest argument demanding that public interests be prioritized.  NYWW is a private company.  They sold their land to a private developer for profit.  They don't want to go to Bayonne to protect their profits.  The NJ Transit study cited above references the pressure from JC's LeFrak Organization, the developer behind Newport, as the biggest impediment to NYWW moving to Lackawana.  And LCOR, the developer of NJ Transit's Railyard's Project in Hoboken told me that the land was too valuable there for ferry operations.  ENOUGH!!!!!!!! 
  • Your understanding that the Hoboken Cove is home to over 70 marine species, some of which are endangered and the wave and contamination from diesel fuel impacts will threaten these species.  Click HERE to read more.
  • And finally, your support for the decades of work that has gone into protecting our waterfront for the public’s use.  Click HERE or Google Waterfront Referendum Hoboken to learn more... This one single action sets us on a reversal of history.
If this is important to you, please plan to attend.  You DO NOT NEED TO STAY THE ENTIRE TIME.  But we would like to have as many people as possible there at the beginning.  I was out handing out flyers with and to neighbors at the Ferry and on Washington St and around the bus stops, and anecdotally 99% of Hoboken residents do not want NYWW to run their operations at the former UDD site.  And the 1% who were not opposed, said it was for fear that we are risking NYWW shutting down which I do not believe is a necessary nor realistic possibility given the importance of this mode of transportation to our region.
I hope you will attend tonight.  It is THAT important that we fill the room.  
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
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