Hoboken Waterfront Dispute

In this Monday, Aug. 5, 2019 photo, a mural in Hoboken, N.J. celebrates the historic role of the city's industrial waterfront. The battle over the future of a coveted slice of Hudson River waterfront is being rekindled, presaging what could be a long and costly legal fight. Hoboken's city council is expected to vote this week to begin eminent domain proceedings to take over the land from a ferry company. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

HOBOKEN, N.J. (AP) — The battle over the future of a coveted slice of Hudson River waterfront is being rekindled, presaging what could be a long and costly legal fight.

The currently unused three-acre parcel with a picture-postcard view of the Manhattan skyline was part of land once bought by Dutchman Peter Stuyvesant in the 1600s from the Lenni Lenape tribe for wampum, kettles, guns and beer. It was later a shipping hub and served as a port of embarkation for World War I troops.

For more than a century it served as a maintenance depot for boats traversing the Hudson. Its owner, ferry company NY Waterway, wants to use it for that purpose again. The city of Hoboken wants to convert it to green space to complete its waterfront park system, and is concerned about the potential environmental effects of the site being used for refueling of NY Waterway’s 35 vessels.

Hoboken’s city council is scheduled to vote Wednesday night on whether to authorize Mayor Ravi Bhalla to make a $13 million offer to buy the land and, if NY Waterway declines the offer, commence eminent domain proceedings to seize it. A second vote will have to be taken in September before any action is taken.

Bhalla, who is in his second year in office leading the city of roughly 55,000, seemed unconcerned about the potential for a lengthy and expensive battle, and chose instead to view the fight in a broader context.

A sense of deja vu hangs over Wednesday’s vote.

“This generation of Hobokenites is just one of a number of generations that have fought longstanding battles to preserve the waterfront as public space,” Bhalla said. “I view us as simply a new generation of residents who are working toward that mission.”

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