6th Street Embankment Settlement Gets OK From City Council, Decision Now Rests In Hands Of Conrail

Jersey City’s Council has unanimously approved a settlement at Wednesday night’s Council meeting that the city hopes will put an end to litigation over who owns the 6th Street Embankment. The city joins developer Steve Hyman, the current owner of the land, in signing the settlement, which would end the 7-year legal dispute – and 14-year effort by the Embankment Preservation Coalition to turn the downtown property into a park. The last party involved in the suit, Conrail, still needs to sign on to officially transfer the property over to the city.

Currently Hyman owns the land, but his purchase of the property was put in jeopardy after an appellate court ruled to allow a lawsuit from Jersey City to move forward. The suit called into question whether the land, which has railroad tracks, was sold as is stipulated by law.

Although there was palpable excitement from the dozens of EPC members and supporters at the meeting, Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis cautioned patience.

“This settlement doesn’t end it,” he said. “We still need Conrail on board, but momentum is going in that direction.”

Stephen Gucciardo, the president of the EPC, said he was hopeful the “win in Federal Court will motivate Conrail to sign as well,” but added should that not happen, “it will commit us to three to five years of painful and costly litigation.”

“Not everyone gets what they want,” he went on, “but oddly enough we all get most of what we want. It’s an incredible example of community involvement.”

Added Dan Horgan, developer Steve Hyman’s lawyer, “This is not the end of a dispute but the beginning for the city to seize the opportunity and reaffirm the resolution to go forward for what everyone has been asking for for many, many years.”

The Council wasted no time celebrating what they hope will be the end to the legal battle that reportedly cost the city upwards of $500,000.

Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop, who called the plans for the park “world class and special,” added, “You know we’re close to the end when [Steve] Hyman’s lawyer is saying the same thing as [EPC President] Stephen Gucciardo” about the settlement being a good compromise.

“I thank [the EPC] for staying here late and working tirelessly to get this done,” he added.

The city is expected to pay $7 million in the settlement, and Conrail, should they sign on, reportedly paying out $13 million.

There is also some room for development, but nothing legally binding, explained Matsikoudis.

“The settlement doesn’t require the city adopt development changes,” he explained, “but it does call for city officials to work in “good faith” to the extent zoning changes would take place in a redevelopment area.”

Photos By Steve Gold

Matt Hunger

is a former staff writer for the Jersey City Independent.