NEWARK, N.J. — Less than two weeks into his first term, the new mayor of Hoboken is locked in a tug of war with the nation’s third-largest transit system over a parcel of land on the city’s picturesque waterfront.
Whether the three-acre plot will be used as a ferry maintenance terminal or a public park will depend on how New Jersey Transit votes this week.
A vote was scheduled to be taken on Wednesday, but not enough board members were in attendance to reach a quorum of four. The agency attributed it to “an urgent personal matter that had to be attended to” but didn’t give specifics.
An NJ Transit spokeswoman didn’t know the last time a board meeting had been postponed in similar fashion. The agency said it would hold the meeting on Friday.
Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla, who attended Wednesday’s meeting along with several supporters, called the lack of a vote a temporary victory. He called NJ Transit’s plan “rushed and ill-conceived” and said other locations along the Hudson River could be used for the facility.
Bhalla wants to use the land to extend Hoboken’s waterfront park. The city is prepared to take the property by eminent domain if necessary. That wouldn’t be possible if the state, through NJ Transit, purchases it.
“I pledge to use every resource at my disposal to protect Hoboken’s interests,” Bhalla said.
NY Waterway, a private company that operates cross-Hudson River ferries from points along the New Jersey waterfront, purchased the site, which has operated as a marine maintenance facility for more than century, last year.
Waterway spokesman Pat Smith said Wednesday the company expects to pay NJ Transit a lease “in the six figures” if NJ Transit purchases the site, plus make approximately $10 million in improvements.
Expanded ferry service is seen as an important component in the region’s transportation planning, as rail and bus commuting has become increasingly plagued by aging, problem-prone infrastructure.