New developments for Sixth Street Embankment

The Jersey City City Council addressed the topic of the Sixth Street Embankment last week by voting on a resolution and meeting behind closed doors with an attorney.
The Sixth Street Embankment is a series of sandstone and granite blocks spanning Sixth Street from Marin Boulevard to Brunswick Street, over which a section of th e Pennsylvania Railroad freight line ran from 1902 until the late 1970s. It has been at the center of controversy for some time.
Local park activists have pushed for the Embankment to be preserved and possibly used for parks, recreation, and maybe a light rail extension as endorsed by Mayor Jerramiah Healy. Developer Steve Hyman acquired the property in 2005 from Conrail for $3 million, and is currently touting a plan for 75 percent of the 5.6-acre, six-block structure as open space, and the remaining 25 percent would contain housing. But he also wants the Embankment demolished if the city doesn’t agree to his plan.
On Wednesday, the council voted to endorse pending state legislation crafted by state Assemblyman (and former City Council President) L. Harvey Smith requiring railroad companies to negotiate “in good faith” with local governments first when they are about to sell the rights to railroad lines they no longer operate before offering to private entities.
The city has contested the sale of the Embankment to Hyman and his investment partners, claiming the sale was done improperly. The federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) ruled in August 2007 that Conrail should have gotten authorization from the STB to legally abandon the Embankment or offer it to public entities before it was sold to Hyman.
Lawyers for the owner of the Embankment tried to convince the council on Wednesday not to endorse the legislation, saying it would hurt negotiations with the city to drop the litigation contesting the STB decision, and allow development of the Embankment to go forward.
On Monday, the City Council went into a closed caucus with railroad law attorney Charles Montange, retained by the city to deal with the Embankment issue on a federal level, to update them on Conrail still fighting the STB decision in federal court.
More on the Embankment in a future edition of the Reporter. – Ricardo Kaulessar

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