Hoboken Union Dry Dock Rally - What It Means to the People
To fully understand the Union Dry Dock issue in Hoboken we have to go back 30-50 years when the coast of Hudson County was still an industrial Center. Huge names in industry had factories throughout the county such as Maxwell House, Lipton and Hudson Tea, Joseph Dixon Crucible Company, and Colgate-Palmolive. Water powered the factories, the waterway was an easy way to bring goods in and out, and also became an easy dumping ground for waste.
Fast forward to now when the landscape of Hudson County has changed from industrial to residential and commercial where people actually use the waterfront and appreciate it.
There has been a Dry Dock at 901 Sinatra Drive below Castle Rock and next to the Shipyard Complex for years. “It is a depot to be used for refueling, repairs, storage and sanitary wastewater disposal for NY Waterway’s fleet… It has two slips used for barge repair, not refueling. Because the barges took weeks to repair, there was very little traffic to and fro. The barges had no engines and needed no fuel. A small crew of employees worked 8-hour shifts, 5 days a week,” explains Rob Hine on Hoboken For a Better Waterfront’s blog. However, what NY Waterway wants to use the dock for is completely different purpose. Hine continues, “They plans to operate 18 hours a day, 7 days per week, making an estimated 80 ferry trips daily to and from the depot. The high-speed ferries consume huge quantities of diesel fuel, requiring frequent refueling. The City estimates that ferry crews will be making 240 vehicular trips through Hoboken to and from this waterfront site; delivery of fuel and supplies will add considerable more traffic, turning Sinatra Drive into an industrial boulevard.”
And this is where the issue comes in, transforming a quiet dock into an industrial center with heavy boat traffic boats coming in and out, petroleum pollution, and the additional traffic to Sinatra Drive.
On March 9th, we joined hundreds of people and many groups to Rally against the development of the Union Dry Dock. We walked from Pier A along the water pathway to the Hoboken Cove Boat House, located adjacent to the Dry Dock. The common theme throughout all the speeches was the preservation of sea life and its amazing growth and resurgence, this is the only access point into the Hudson River for miles, and there are other locations much more suitable for a refueling station, like Lackawanna Station. Those at the rally wanted to sit down the NY Waterways and have a real discussion about providing solutions and making it work for both sides.
Hine opened the rally sharing Hoboken City Council is in favor of turning the Dry Dock into a Park. Many of the local politicians - Mayor Fulop, Senator Stack, Mayor Sacco, Freehlder Romano, and County Executive DeGuise - are showing their support beyond their city to help this situation. He later shared the groups that came out in support of this rally - Hudson River Fisherman’s Association, Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, Bike Hoboken, and Climate Mobilization.
At podium: Rob Hine of Hoboken For a Better Waterfront
Mayor Bhalla followed, “This location is so symbolic and reflects how important and crucial this is to the City of Hoboken… Goodbye to kayaking, marine life that is making a comeback, and goodbye to fresh air… This has been decades of changing the waterfront from industrial to something we can enjoy.” He then shared that Governor Murphy was in full support of Hoboken and having meaningful discussions with NY Waterway so all parties can move forward.
At podium: Hoboken Mayor, Mayor Bhalla
Noelle Thurlow, owner of Resilient Paddle Sports, detailed some marvelous facts about this location, “A biodiversity survey was performed for the past 5 years in this cove and it supports a robust ecosystem. There are 80 species of sea life just in the cove. Ribbed mussels line the dry dock cleaning and balancing the ecosystem. This could be a site for full restoration, however the Dry Dock will completely ruin the restoration.
It is a public access site for human powered vehicles to access the water. It is also can be an outdoor classroom offering environmental education at this site and will encourage STEM (STEAM) among local students. If it becomes a refueling station it would be much too dangerous for children and people in general. The access would be so limited. We want to work with them and create a solution that works for everyone and creates a fully shared waterfront.”
At podium: Noelle Thurlow of Resilient Paddle Sports
It is not just residents of Hoboken who come to paddleboard and kayak, it is people and tourists from the entire county and beyond. The Boathouse will service 6,000 people from around the world this summer. Also, everyone who leads groups and teaches is completely volunteer because they love being on the water. Without this point of access, there would be no way to launch people into the water. “We do not want to lose this great opportunity on the water,” Jennifer Cox, a representative of the Boathouse explained.
Leslie Floria, a Hoboken resident who lives near the Boathouse painted the picture of what the Boathouse means, “Hoboken Waterfront is a destination in New Jersey. Hoboken is vibrant and growing and one of the large drivers is our beautiful waterfront.” One of the biggest issues with the refueling station is the pollution, “Why place it next to a playground, state park, universities, residences, and outdoor bars? We need $12M in funding to improve transportation, not for a refueling station. This will jeopardize Hoboken and we will no longer be a success story.
Hoboken is our Central Park. This is Hoboken’s High Line Moment. The waterfront belongs to the people!”
Pictured left to right: Jenna Firshein, Growing in Jersey City; Sam Pesin, Friends of Liberty State Park; Rob Hine, Hoboken For a Better Waterfront; Elvi Guzman, City Challenge
The final speaker was our dear friend and Liberty State Park advocate Sam Pesin. Following in the steps of his father, he has become a voice to protect the park his father fought to build and transform from a dumping group. “Today we are standing up for the voice of the urban people. A public park in this concrete area is a no brainer. We must put people first. Rob Hine and his team are visionary heroes for fighting for green space.
Green space: Will enrich mental health and wellness. Will set international spiritual model of urban open space. Public space will enriches the lives of all of us.
NY Waterway states that this will help the public. What it will do it help the commuters, not the general public... The refueling station will benefit the pockets but not the people.” He also explains the reason why this has so much backing is because the biggest lobbyists in New Jersey are backing this. Pesin helps us point our moral compass for all that is good in the world, “Most importantly, this is the balance sheet of civilization. Quality of life must be the deciding factor. This space belongs to everyone and it is a place of tranquility and beauty. Industry has dwarfed Jersey City and Hoboken for decades. Now is the time to make the vision of the waterfront possible.”