City Council 3/7/2007 – Preview
The posted agenda for tonight’s City Council Meeting includes a proposal to tighten up Financial Disclosure regulations, expanding the YMCA for housing of “Low Income Single Males”, more Astroturf in city parks, and a Boathouse proposal for the Weehawken cove. There will also be movement toward adopting a fiscal 2007 budget (now 9 months late). The Southwest Redevelopment Plan is not on the posted agenda, but it could be one of the “last minute” add-on surprise items that Mayor Roberts is known for slipping onto the agenda to keep the public off balance.
YMCA Low Income Housing
People who live near the YMCA at 13th and Washington might be interested to hear the city is being asked to help get funding for a 96-unit Single Room Occupancy “Special Needs Project” for low-income single males. The YMCA wants to renovate the third and fourth stories of its building, and add a fifth story to build the SRO complex. Plans for the expansion will be discussed by the City Council, which will also consider a Tax Abatement for the project. Residents of the area might not be thrilled with the idea.
Financial Disclosure Ordinance
Councilman Peter Cammarano is proposing an ordinance to tighten up the city financial disclosure rules to get them in line with state law. This after reports Construction Code Official Al Arezzo hasn’t filed any. Arezzo is now under state investigation for Hoboken properties he has an ownership interest in. The ordinance lists 25 City Officials who would have to file, from the Police Chief to the Municipal Engineer. Some on the list have filed Financial Disclosure forms in the past, while others like Arezzo have not.
Recently city government watchdog Helen Hirsch filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) Request for Financial Disclosure forms, and was handed copies that included little more than the names of the officials who filed them. The Mayor’s attorney redacted the actual Financial Disclosure information by taking a magic marker and crossing out all the financial information on the copies. That kind of goes against the whole idea of public disclosure.
Overdue City Budget
More “Temporary Emergency Appropriations” will be on the agenda, along with amendments to the 2007 Budget proposed by the Mayor to continuing filling his annual budget deficit with more one-shot revenue items. The Roberts Administration negotiated an “accelerated Payment In Lieu Of Taxes” with waterfront office building developer SJP. The Council will want to see how much money they are giving up in the long term in order to get the short-term cash to fill the annual Roberts Budget Gap. See other concerns with the budget HERE.
1600 Park Avenue News
Several items on the agenda have to do with acquiring 1600 Park for a new park. Most of them have to do with getting all the legal ducks in a row to get all the grant money for the acquisition of the property. This is the same grant money the Roberts Administration said wasn’t available until the Hoboken Parks Organization went out and got the money on behalf of the City. The City is also entering into agreements with Downtown Boathouse Inc. to move forward on a plan to build a boathouse near 1600 Park on the Weehawken Cove. No word yet on what that will cost. See the resolution voted on in 2005 on page 348 of the meeting minutes on THIS PDF.
The Mayor must really love the feel of plastic grass, because he wants to award a $109,510.00 contract to put synthetic turf down in Church Square Park. Instead of following the Master Plan recommendations for creating new park space, Roberts keeps changing Church Square Park and calling it “new park amenities” in the fliers he sends with his tax bills.
Not On The Agenda, But Could Come Up
The Southwest Redevelopment Plan is not on the agenda, but the Mayor could try and pull a fast one and stick it on at the last minute. The plan was not well received at the public meeting last week. Nothing on the agenda concerning the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but there will likely be discussion of what went right, and what still needs to be addressed. Rumor has it Stevens Institute wants Hoboken Taxpayers to borrow several million dollars so they can build their new Monster Garage on the waterfront. That could come up as soon as tonight, as Roberts continues his quest to max-out the city’s bonding capacity before he leaves office.
The Caucus begins at 6pm, with the Regular Meeting at 7pm at City Hall.