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Hoboken Set To Use Eminent Domain To Take Union Dry Dock From NY Waterway

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- There has been a new development in the fight over a prime piece of property on the Hudson River in New Jersey.

The City of Hoboken wants it to preserve its parkland, but NY Waterway says it needs it to provide reliable ferry service.

CBS2's Lisa Rozner visited the property known as the Union Dry Dock on Wednesday. In Hoboken, many residents rely on the ferry to commute to Manhattan. To meet growing demand, NY Waterway previously purchased the property to use as a refueling station and maintenance depot. However, Hoboken is getting ready to use eminent domain because it wants it to be a park.

"This is one of the last pieces for Hoboken to create a contiguous waterfront," Mayor Ravi Bhalla said.

FLASHBACK: Battle Brewing Over Dry Dock In Hoboken

NY Waterways
(credit: NY Waterways)

Bhalla said the city council is ready to vote Sept. 4 on using eminent domain to take over the Union Dry Dock for $13.1 million. Bhalla claims NY Waterway has insinuated in the past it could retaliate, but he is assuring residents there will be no lapse in ferry service as a result of the controversial move.

"There will be no transportation crisis if New Jersey Transit does not acquire Union Dry Dock," Bhalla said. "There are a number of ferry companies in the market who are ready, willing and able to step into the shoes of NY Waterway. We spoke to one of the leading national transportation providers in the area of ferry service."

FLASHBACK: NJ Transit Board Postpones Meeting On Hoboken Dry Dock

By email, the president and founder of NY Waterway told Rozner the company, "never threatened and never intended to withdraw from Hoboken," adding, "This is just the latest example of Mayor Bhalla's total disregard for the truth."

The company said it would provide a public pier with a kayak landing and fishing space, but a non-profit said that would hurt the current beach cove and wildlife.

"It wouldn't be safe to put an industrial operation here with refueling ferries from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., 20,000 gallons of fuel per week. It's just an incompatible use," said Ron Hine, the executive director of The Fund for a Better Waterfront.

"I'm certainly concerned about the environmental impact," Hoboken Councilwoman-At-Large Emily Jabbour added. "So it's a really incredible place and there are so many animals and species that need to be continue to be protected there."

Daniel Tumpson, who at one point started a group called the Coalition for a Better Waterfront, said he does not support the city's plan.

"There are parks all through Hoboken. They're even along the waterfront. There's several parks, so there's no necessity, and the cost to the city will be horrendous," Tumpson said.

Gov. Phil Murphy and NJ Transit chimed in on the issue on Wednesday afternoon.

"We are working very hard to try and find common ground that addresses transportation matters, local community matters, environmental matters," Murphy said.

"Our role isn't to support or not support. Our role is from the transportation side, is to show all the options, the limitations and what's required to provide transit throughout the region," NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett said.

Last week, NJ Transit released a study that says the Union Dry Dock spot on the Hudson River waterfront is the best for the refueling station. The city has said sites near the Lackawanna train station, which is Hoboken's main rail terminal, and in Bayonne would be better for the depot. The report says they aren't better options because of location, cost or security concerns.

This battle could go on for years.

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