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Let the people understand the consequences of sacrificing ferry service for a park

Dear Editor:

This letter is concerned with the City of Hoboken’s attempt to take the former Union Dry Dock (“UDD”) property away from its owner, New York Waterway (“NYWW”), who intends to use UDD as a maintenance/refueling facility for its ferries. NYWW bought UDD for its ferry use because it is the only location that is efficiently located for NYWW’s trans-Hudson ferry service and which has already been long established as a boat maintenance facility. If NYWW is not allowed to use UDD to maintain its ferries in the very near future, it could go out of business. This would be a disaster for those trans-Hudson commuters who live in or commute through Hoboken.
Hoboken’s mayor and council have been trying to find ways to take UDD away from NYWW and to use it for a park. The governor of New Jersey and New Jersey Transit have prevented the mayor and council from acquiring UDD by eminent domain, but they are still attempting to prevent NYWW from operating its ferry service from there by convincing the US Army Corps of Engineers to require that a federal permit be issued, even though the NJ Department of Environmental Protection has already investigated the impact of NYWW’s ferry use of UDD and has granted a permit based on its ruling that there is no significant danger to the riverfront environment.
Thousands of our Hoboken neighbors commute to work in New York City every weekday, and they can be seriously affected by the creation of a park in place of the NYWW’s UDD ferry maintenance and fueling facility. Not only will Hoboken residents who use the ferry be affected, but thousands of commuters to and from New York, including Hoboken residents, will be subjected to intense competition for space on PATH and NJ Transit trains and buses by the 30,000 stranded ferry users displaced by the termination of the NYWW ferry service. These transportation facilities are already overloaded, and many commuting Hoboken residents will find even more packed buses passing them by and have to wait longer for a place on the PATH, resulting in more delay and wasted time.
There is no convincing evidence that Hoboken residents would want to sacrifice their ferry service for another waterfront park. The City of Hoboken is basing its efforts to take over UDD and use it as a park upon a survey which polled only a relatively small sample of Hoboken residents and asked only if they would like UDD to be used as a park. This is clearly inadequate. If the City of Hoboken is going to undermine NYWW’s only viable means of ferry maintenance by taking UDD and turning it into a park, then all of the consequences of park vs. ferry use should be clearly revealed to the entire population of Hoboken, so that we can collectively understand and respond to our fate based upon real evidence.

Norman Horing
Daniel Tumpson

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