Going cruising Mayor discusses the possibility of bringing a passenger ship to Hoboken

As Mayor David Roberts sat in his office in City Hall Wednesday and flipped through turn-of-the-century post cards of Hoboken’s waterfront, he nostalgically reflected on the importance that the Hudson River has played in Hoboken’s past.

“I believe that it is imperatively important that we rekindle Hoboken’s association with the Hudson River as a port town,” said the mayor.

With the goal of revitalizing Hoboken’s maritime industry, Mayor Roberts recently announced that he has entered into very preliminary talks with a mid-size cruise company to possibly bring a passenger cruise ship to the shore of the mile-square city.

While the mayor would not reveal what company he has been in talks with, he did say that he is excited about the prospects of possibly bringing a cruise ship to the city’s docks. A mid-size cruise ship would hold between 900 to 1,300 passengers.

“As we revisit Hoboken’s past and look toward its future,” the mayor said, “I think it’s important that we recapture the romance of the Hudson River.”

Wednesday, the mayor acknowledged that the plan is still very much in the conceptual phase, and that before any plan is announced, the city will solicit public input and will consult trained planning personnel.

“There will be community involvement and good sound urban planning,” Roberts said. He added that no plan would be approved that doesn’t adequately answer questions about traffic and parking.

In the abandoned terminal

The mayor also gave the Reporter a tour of the abandoned ferry terminal located on the city’s southern border. According the mayor, the brilliance of the expanse is hidden underneath a thin layer of dirt, dust, and age. The Erie Lackawanna Ferry Terminal, which runs several football fields in length and has high vaulted ceilings, would be the ship’s port if it were to come to town. At its peak, the 95-year-old terminal could cater to 30,000 passengers daily.

As the mayor walked through the building, he pointed to the Tiffany stained glass that that is only slightly obscured by a layer of grime. He also visualized what the terminal could look like when finished.

“It could truly be amazing,” said the mayor. “It’s going to be like the first time you step foot in Yankee Stadium, when you just can’t believe how expansive the space is.”

The mayor added that a cruise ship would also create jobs. “There is going to be a definite economic impact,” he said as he pointed to where restaurants, cafes, and shops might one day reside. “There are many job opportunities associated with maritime uses and we intend to take full advantage of those options.”

City Council President Tony Soares said Tuesday that the cruise ship idea is worth looking into.

“I think it is a good thing for Hoboken to explore its options,” said Soares. “It could bring a positive economic impact to the waterfront and be a nice alternative to all of the residential housing that is being built.”

Soares added that before any cruise ship or major waterfront undertaking is attempted, the city must devise an efficient, workable plan to deal with parking and traffic issues. The last time a major project was proposed for the terminal building, it was the Devil’s Arena proposal. The sports facility was projected to be the new home of the New Jersey Devils hockey team, but there was a large amount of public opposition to the project because of the traffic and parking troubles that the building would have caused.

Soares said that a cruise ship project would be much smaller in scale.

“People should know that this is not going to be our version of Devil’s Arena,” said Soares.


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