Saturday, December 8, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "UDD, Monarch, Washington St, Clydesdales, Personal Attacks"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:
I hope everyone is settling into the weekend and either went or was able to see online the Lighting of Hoboken’s Christmas Tree.  We are in the season full swing!  I unfortunately could not make it as I am away to attend a funeral for a longtime family friend who at 80, passed peacefully with a smile on his face and surrounded by loved ones.    
There is always a lot happening in our own version of Sesame Street… this newsletter includes an update on just a few:
  • Hoboken Waterfront – UDD and Monarch
  • Update from 12/7 Council Meeting including:
    • Protective and medical Marijuana legislation
    • Update on Washington St. timing
    • Personal attacks against me
  • The Budweiser Clydesdales coming to Hoboken
As you may have seen, Mayor Bhalla issued the following statement yesterday that he received notification that the US Army Corps of Engineers has given approval for NY Waterways to move their ferry operations to the former Union Dry Dock site.   
“I have just received notice that the US Army Corps of Engineers has granted NY Waterway a permit to move their ferry maintenance and refueling depot from Weehawken to the former Union Dry Dock site in Hoboken.  I am incredibly disappointed but for me, this fight is far from over.  I am re-doubling my efforts to ensure that this property will be a public park, NOT a ferry maintenance and refueling depot.  Before NY Waterway is given permission by Governor Murphy to ravage our waterfront and environment, I invite the Governor and NJ Transit to visit the site so they can see firsthand the detrimental impact this will have on the families and children of our community.”
This decision is so frustrating, although not unexpected.  Mayor Bhalla has already reached out to both Senators Menendez and Booker and, along with the City Council, remains committed to continuing this fight.  
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Graphic credit: Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront
The single most critical next step is for Mayor Bhalla, Governor Murphy and NJ Transit to agree on a superior location for ferry operations.   And right now all reports – ours and NJ Transits - point to Hoboken’s own Lackawanna Terminal as one of the preferred sites.  Given this approval, it may be more difficult to stop NYWW from occupying the former UDD site in the near term, but that doesn’t mean we should not stop fighting for the right permanent location elsewhere.
I urge all Hoboken residents to call Governor Murphy’s office at 609-292-6000, tell him how important our waterfront is to our community and ask him to do the right thing for his constituents: protect Hoboken’s waterfront and better align all public transportation at one or all of the superior sites identified, including Hoboken’s Lackawanna Terminal.  Please also email our representatives and post on twitter and FB including the links for the video showing our waterfront and to the Alternative Site Engineering reports.  
To those who are less supportive of this effort.  Please note none of us are supportive of NYWW shutting down under any circumstances.  That is not what this is about.  This is about continuing the decades-long effort of protecting our waterfront for the best and highest use for Hoboken and working for the best strategic solution for all transportation needs.   

Last week, I attended the oral arguments for the remaining legal case outstanding relating to Monarch.  This was the appeal of the lower court decision that Hoboken's flood ordinance banning residential development in high flood zones along the waterfront does not apply to the Monarch site.  What is being decided is whether health and safety trump property interests.  The judges pushed the attorneys on why our ordinances should not be seen as being targeted at the developer, and the attorneys for the city's position did a great job explaining both the legal position as well as providing context of what the flooding risks are in Hoboken.  As Mayor Bhalla recently said, appeals are difficult to win, but we await the decision which we expect to receive at the earliest, prior to the end of the year, but more likely early in 2019.  
Also, as you may have heard through the grapevine, Mayor Bhalla is actively working with Dave Barry and Ironstate/Applied, owners of the proposed Monarch site as well as other development sites in Hoboken, to identify a solution that could see the conclusion to the longstanding battle for our waterfront including vacating their interests on the north waterfront.  This is by no means a secret, and Mayor Bhalla encouraged socializing this issue more broadly as he continues settlement discussions.  
He recently met with residents across Hoboken including my neighbors at Hudson Tea to discuss ideas and get input.  If you happen to be someone in the commercial real estate advisory and/or appraisal industry who is interested in seeing a settlement and could offer some thoughts on evaluating development projects, I urge you to reach out to the mayor’s office to offer your support.  Profitability is the main currency in development negotiations and is front and center in this settlement.