Hoboken: Proposed hospital parking agreement violates state law, report says; vote expected on Tuesday

HOBOKEN – The proposed parking agreement that is said to be crucial to the sale of Hoboken University Medical Center is allegedly in violation of state law, according to a report in The Star-Ledger.
The city and HUMC Holdco, the new hospital owners, reached a 99-year parking agreement after months of negotiations that will provide access to 1,000 parking spots for hospital employees, spread throughout three city garages.
As part of the agreement, some physicians would have access to reserved spots, while other employees will have unreserved parking. Under the agreement, the rates for the first three years would be for $45 per month, and after that, the rate is $65 per month. Residents pay $185 per month for the spots. If the property, during the 99 year lease, is no longer a hospital, the new owners would still be guaranteed transponders for the spots, but they would pay market rate, according to the agreement.
The new parking agreement also nullifies the current agreement, starting a new 99-year lease.
However, a state statute stipulates that municipalities are authorized to lease parking properties for “periods of time not exceeding 50 years.”
City Attorney Mark Tabakin told The Star-Ledger in a written statement that the agreement was based on a prior 99-year parking agreement made in 2007. Mayor Dawn Zimmer told the Ledger, also by way of a written statement, that the agreement was negotiated by teams of highly qualified attorneys.
Over the weekend, an advertisement “Paid for by Friends of Beth Mason for City Council” denounced the agreement, showing slow motion handshakes between Zimmer and Gov. Christopher Christie. The new owners of the hospital have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying politicians in Trenton, including local Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos (D – 33) and Christie. The state has committed $16 million to help extinguish the city’s $52 million bond guarantee and ease the sale.
The ad states that a Christie donor will get a $155 million subsidy.
If a business were to buy 1,000 spots in the Midtown Garage for 99 years, they would pay approximately $219.8 million (using the current $185 per month rate). Under the proposed agreement, using the $45 and $65 per month rate for 1,000 spots and 99 years, the new hospital owners will pay $76.5 million, a difference of approximately $143.2 million.
To view the ad, click HERE.
Mason, an opponent of the mayor, also sent out an email blast to supporters on Monday morning, alleging that the mayor is pushing for an “illegal agreement.”
The council will be asked to vote on the parking agreement on Tuesday evening. The state issued a Certificate of Need on Oct. 21, essentially finalizing the sale. The transfer of ownership is expected to be completed this week. — Ray Smith