Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force
More citizen groups required to keep city hall in check
The entire Hoboken City Council – from Cammarano to Mason to Zimmer – is on the record opposed to the gargantuan project proposed for the Hoboken rail yards by NJ Transit, FXFowle and LCOR.
That didn’t stop fiscal monitor Judy Tripodi from approving a contract extension for the planning firm described by all parties involved (even Terry Labruno!) as “arrogant” in the way they simply dismissed public input. Now a new group is forming out of the Quality of Life Coalition to address the issue. Below is their press release:
Tripodi Extends FXFOWLE Contract despite council vote
Tripodi Adds $100,000 to Total Cost of Redevelopment Plan; Intends to Move Redevelopment Plan to Completion Without Incorporating Community Feedback
“State Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi informed Hoboken City Council Members in a memo dated April 16 that she is moving ahead to authorize an extension of the contract between the City of Hoboken and FXFOWLE, the firm engaged to create the redevelopment plan for the NJ Transit rail yards in our city, from the original $155,000 to a new maximum of $255,000.”
READ THE REST OF THE PRESS RELEASE AFTER THE JUMP…
(Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force, continued…)
The resolution already has met with opposition twice in City Council, which first voted it down by a vote of 8 to 0 on March 4 and tabled it by a 4 to 3 vote on April 1. Several council members cited the planning firm’s failure to respond to the concerns raised at public meetings. However, a letter from FXFOWLE dated Feb. 24, included with the March 4 resolution, plainly states that the request for additional funds “does not include any additional public meetings, or new professional renderings or modifications to the existing professional renderings.”
Instead, FXFOWLE attributes the need for additional funds to the ongoing “consensus building process,” which the proposal outlines as up to six additional “stakeholder meetings” between the planning firm, NJ Transit, the City Planning Department and representatives of City Council. No citizens groups are included in these discussions.
At least some of the amount appears to cover additional costs already incurred by FXFOWLE, according to the firm’s previous proposal letter, dated Jan. 28, which cited the extension of the planning period from six to nine months, and the burden of having held three instead of the original two public meetings.
“FXFOWLE’s proposal does not cover any future public meetings or the cost of changing the professional renderings of the mammoth towers proposed for the site,” said Terry Pranses of the Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force. “So, what does this expenditure cover? It appears the additional $100,000 authorized by the State Monitor will pay for activity beyond their previously approved total, as well as for new incremental activity, though, not for any substantive changes to the plan in response to public concerns.”
FXFOWLE’s redevelopment plan reflects none of the concerns raised by members of the public in the three open meetings. The concerns expressed include the very out-of-scale buildings, an appearance that does not fit into Hoboken, and the lack of integration into the City’s streetscape.
“Because this decision is not being taken in the open forum of a City Council meeting, Ms. Tripodi’s action raises a number of questions,” Pranses added. “First, what exactly does the additional funding cover and how valid are these expenses? Whose input did Ms. Tripodi seek in making her recommendation? If not City Council, who is setting the objectives and timetable for FXFOWLE?”
While the State Fiscal Monitor has the authority to sign contracts and approve expenses, “We believe that only the duly elected City Council members should represent the people of the City of Hoboken on matters that affect the future size and scale of our community,” he concluded.
About the Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force
The Task Force was formed in the wake of the third public meeting held by the City to present the NJ Transit Rail Yards redevelopment plan, when it was made clear that the designated planners, FXFOWLE, had incorporated none of the feedback expressed by members of the community at the previous two meetings. The group advocates development of the rail yards in a scale and manner that complements the larger community it will be joining. New development at this crucial site will impact Hoboken for many generations. For more information, contact Terry Pranses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition
The QLC (www.qlchoboken.org) was instrumental in forging the western alignment of the Light Rail route in Hoboken, led the fight that prevented construction of a hockey stadium over the railroad tracks, and joined with several other groups fighting to secure properties at 1600 Park Avenue and 900 Monroe sites as designated parkland. Recently, QLC worked with Hoboken Heritage to protect portions of the Holy Innocents site from demolition and construction of a mid-rise building, and with the Neumann Leathers Tenants Association to save the historic factory buildings from demolition. It is currently promoting scrutiny of plans before the Hoboken Planning Board for 65-story and 45-story buildings proposed for the Erie Lackawanna train yards in southern Hoboken. In March 2008 the Coalition and its Committee for a Green Hoboken secured the unanimous passage of the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, a commitment to work for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions throughout the municipality.