Gov. Phil Murphy has told the City of Hoboken that if they pass a suspension of eminent domain in a controversial property acquisition deal, he will pull the issue from consideration at a New Jersey Transit Board meeting on Wednesday, according to sources familiar with the negotiations who was not authorized
Mayor Ravi Bhalla has sent a letter to the governor saying that the appropriate ordinance has been drafted. The ball is now in Murphy’s court.
Just days before taking office as governor, helped kill a proposed transaction between New Jersey Transit and New York Waterways. He did it at the request of Bhalla. Murphy slammed outgoing Gov. Chris Christie for trying to push the deal to sell the Union Dry Dock literally the final day of his administration.
Late last night, Murphy seems to be considering support for the same deal he opposed in January, infuriating the mayor. New Jersey Transit, which pulled the property sale off their agenda at a special meeting held on a state holiday – the day before Murphy took office, has rescheduled the vote for April 4. Some Hoboken Democrats are livid with Murphy for trying to jam this item through on another holiday weekend.
Sources say that the newly-appointed executive director of New Jersey Transit, Kevin Corbett, promised Bhalla that he would personally notify him of any movement on the Union Dry Dock issue, but that the item appeared on the agenda without a heads up from him.
Other sources say that New York Waterway has made some valid points to the governor’s office in defense of their plan. That has caused Murphy to reconsider his position, despite Bhalla’s pleas. Bayonne is in the process of opening a ferry terminal, and New York Waterway is a natural candidate to become their operator.
New York Waterway, the private inter-modal transportation company that operates Port Imperial, is owned by Arthur Imperatore. The Imperatore family has contributed over $1.5 million to candidates from both parties over the years. He contributed $2,500 to Christie’s Leadership Matters PAC in 2015.
Bhalla is strongly opposed to a ferry maintenance yard and prefers to build a park on that site.