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NJ Transit board pulls Hoboken waterfront item from agenda

January 15, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Transit’s board held a meeting on Martin Luther King Day but didn’t vote on purchasing a 3-acre site on Hoboken’s waterfront to use as a ferry maintenance terminal.

In a surprise move, the proposed purchase was pulled from Monday’s agenda.

The vote had been scheduled for last Wednesday, but not enough board members showed up to constitute a quorum. It was rescheduled for Friday, and then for Monday, a federal holiday. Incoming Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy had urged a postponement of the vote.

Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla, who wants the property to be an extension of the city’s waterfront park, hailed the action in a statement and vowed to “fight tooth and nail” to preserve the property as open space.

In July, Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a measure including $12 million for the purchase. Monday was Christie’s last full day in office.

The 3-acre site has operated as a marine maintenance facility for more than a century and is a throwback to the Hoboken waterfront immortalized in the 1954 Marlon Brando film “On the Waterfront.”

NJ Transit would lease it back to NY Waterway, a private ferry company that bought the property last year and would use it for maintenance and repair. A NY Waterway spokesman said the company would spend about $10 million on improvements.

Members faced criticism from the mayor and about 100 residents for holding the meeting on King’s birthday, a state holiday. Bhalla called it “a slap in the face” to King’s legacy.

“That’s not a call to service,” he said. “That’s a disgrace.”

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