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Union Dry Dock Lease Agreement Draws Concern from Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse

TAPinto logo TAPinto 2/3/2023

HOBOKEN, NJ – Volunteers for the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse appeared at the Hoboken City Council meeting on Feb. 1 to raise concerns about the proposed lease agreement between the city and NY Waterway that would allow repairs on ferries to continue for the next three years.

Councilmember Jennifer Giattino voted against the agreement; Councilmember Tiffanie Fisher abstained.

The agreement is part of a larger plan that will allow the city to take ownership of property known as the Union Dry Dock.

The boathouse is located in Maxwell Place Park on the Hoboken waterfront near the intersection of Frank Sinatra Drive and Maxwell Place. and neighboring the dry dock facility.

The group’s mission is to provide free water sport programs and access to local waterways, including by offering free kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and outrigger canoeing in what was assumed to be a protected cove.

But these volunteers told the council that the operations for repairing ferries may pose a safety risk for those using the boathouse programs, and that unless something is done, they may find themselves at risk of a serious accident.

Fisher said the city pushed to continue to make sure waterfront for the public, not commercially or residentially built up and was part of a long fight against NY Waterway from acquiring the site.

Under a deal brokered through the Governor’s office, Hoboken was allowed to purchase the property, but must contribute $5 million towards the cost of constructing the new Weehawken facility and must allow NY Waterways to use the dry dock for ferry repairs until that has been accomplished.

The unanswered questions will be how much boat traffic the dry dock generates and how much risk the more passive waterfront recreation would face.

When the city agreed to the terms of the deal, Fisher said many assumed NY Waterway would disperse these operations among a number of other sites, and that the repair facility in Hoboken would last a short time, and Mayor Ravi Bhalla told the council that he hoped for a low a number of repairs as possible. 

“There was no input from the public as to the concerns about it,” Fisher said of the lease agreement tha was ultmately passed.

Boathouse volunteers said they were very concerned about the ferry traffic in and out of the dry dock and the frequent inability of boaters to reach the ferry operators on the radio to alert them about small craft may be nearby.

The volunteers also raised questions about the wake ferries produced when traveling at high speeds, and whether or not these ferry-created waves would affect boaters in the water or even do damage to the small beach in the park.

“There is already a swift current in the river,” Fisher said, raising other concerns about noise pollution that might result from ferries – such as the sounding of horns as they back up. Just what time of day would this happen and would it be an annoyance to residents living in the Maxwell residential development.

Fisher said she is seeking to set up a meeting between the Boathouse volunteers and NYWaterway to discuss these concerns and establish parameters for the continued safe use of the area.

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