Shady: Beware of Developer Survey!
Survey teams seek personal info under false pretenses
Have you gotten a knock on the door from someone claiming to be doing a “Park Survey” for the City of Hoboken?
Hoboken411 has been getting reports of “survey teams” getting through locked front doors of downtown condo buildings claiming they are working for the city.
They are working for a front organization set up by one or more Hoboken developers, and you have no obligation to participate.
Knock Knock. Who is there? NOT the City of Hoboken.
Some of these survey workers apparently are dressed like they come from some of the worst neighborhoods of Newark, so when young professionals in locked condo buildings suddenly find them knocking on their hallway doors, there’s been a bit of alarm.
There’s been even more confusion about these survey teams because of the ongoing voter canvassing being done by the campaigns of Michael Lenz and Tim Occhipinti in the 4th ward. Canvassers for both candidates are out trying to identify their voters, and these “Park Survey” workers are throwing another wrinkle in the mix.
Misrepresenting their reason for being there
One resident was surprised to hear a knock on their condo door this weekend, and more surprised with who he found in his hallway. He answered the door and asked what they wanted. “That’s when they said that Hoboken was building a park and the survey was supposed to help determine what would go in it,” he says, adding, “They said they were hired by the city to get this survey filled out.” The survey teams would prefer to fill out the survey for you, but will hand you a copy if you ask for it.
They call themselves Citizens for Sensible Growth
The top of the survey page claims “73 residents of Hoboken, NJ formed Citizens for Sensible Growth in September, 2010,” but doesn’t name a single member of this alleged community group.
This survey is the first anyone has heard of “Citizens for Sensible Growth,” which has yet to announce it’s existence to the media. The survey gives an address of “502 Grand Street, Suite A” which is a branch of the U.S. Postal Service.
A look at the actual survey, and who really may be behind it, after the jump!
The group goes to great lengths to appear like a real organization, but fails in its ruse when it suggests “City Council meets on certain Wednesdays at 6pm, so the group may meet there.” The City Council stopped holding 6pm caucus meetings years ago. They meet at 7pm. They want your signature, email address, phone number, age, how long you’ve lived in Hoboken and how long you plan to stay.
But the biggest questions are about the Western Edge
When you get past the misdirection and noise of the survey, it’s clear the whole point of this exercise is to get people talking about the Western Edge Redevelopment Plan.
The next question asks (PDF), “If you knew a community center and pool would cost the City $500,000 to operate annually, would you want the city to be responsible for it’s operation and maintenance?” followed by, “Do you feel that additional open space of commercial space should be a higher priority for Hoboken?”
In the fine print, “Citizens for Sensible Growth” does not advocate “for the election or the defeat of any candidate for public office,” claiming instead to be interested only in “collecting information on the opinions of residents and present them to their officials.” Now, one look at the survey teams and you’ll know they aren’t concerned Hoboken citizen volunteers. Somebody is paying these people to gather this information, or perhaps to spread information about the Western Edge Redevelopment Zone.
Who could really be behind this?
Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s proposal for the Western Edge is a mess. Citizen activists against over-development don’t like it, parks advocates don’t like it, and – yes – the development community doesn’t like it, either.
There are only three property owners in the zone. Bijou Properties, David Mandelbaum of Interstate Properties, and Ursa Development Group. There is speculation one or more of these organizations may be responsible for the survey. Bijou is seen as the least likely source, with his focus on community-friendly, LEED Certified green buildings. Mandelbaum has tons of money, but no history of Hoboken development activity.
Ursa has a long record of political involvement, including bankrolling a truly absurd set of attack ads during the 2009 Mayoral election that violated the intent of Hoboken’s Pay-to-Play laws. Those fliers were sent by “Citizens For The Future” which has a ring similar to “Citizens For Sensible Growth”.
Coincidence? All citizens are encouraged to comment below.