Just days before taking office as governor, Phil Murphy helped kill a controversial property acquisition deal in Hoboken between New Jersey Transit and New York Waterways. He did it at the request of a political ally, Mayor Ravi 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.
Now Murphy seems to be considering support for the same deal he opposed in January, and sources say that Bhalla is furious. 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.
There is still time for Murphy and Bhalla to figure this out. Issues get pulled from agendas all the time, even more than once. Sources familiar with the negotiations say that Bhalla has had ten weeks to iron out the issues, but has not.
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.NJ TRANSIT APRIL 4