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:

new jersey transit redevelopment plan rendering south hoboken 2 - Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force

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.”


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(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 pranses@aol.com.

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.

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Friday, May 1, 2009 10:03 am

[quote comment=”152592″][quote comment=”152567″]Why is redevelopment of the rail yards a bad thing?

Observer Highway is a pretty crappy corridor that could use some sprucing up.

100 years ago, the construction of Grand Central Terminal and burying the rail yard turned the area into the most desirable commercial office district of Manhattan.[/quote]

Because in Hoboken’s case it is going to be redevelopment OVER the rail yards. This means at a minimum, there will be a 20-25 foot tall base erected before anything even gets built above it. “Corridor” is the right word for what Observer Highway will become – nothing but a dark, narrow hallway.

The tracks aren’t going to be buried here. They would then be underwater.[/quote]

Great explanation Joe. This is just a really bad idea all around.

Friday, May 1, 2009 10:02 am

I keep saying it, but here it goes again: Tripodi is a useless btch who we will confirm is part of the problem, not the solution.

Friday, May 1, 2009 7:27 am

[quote comment=”152641″]
So what now do we tell the person who has owned an undeveloped plot of land for years, or even minutes? Other people could develop, but YOU have to hold it to five stories or less with no parking, mass transit will catch up as soon as the market demands?[/quote]

Zoning ordinances must adapt & change. If we stopped building parking, there would be no expectation that one could move here & use a car for every excursion – just like Manhattan.

When zoning changes occur, they are supposed to be applied to projects after the ordinance is passed, not during the application process as that would be “spot zoning”, highly illegal (& what was done at 9th & Castle Point)

Thursday, April 30, 2009 11:15 pm

I personally oppose any development of the NJT train yards. What has happened in this thread is interesting however. First, the idea basically forwarded was the downplaying of cars as a transportation mode in town and no building development of any kind as the goal. Replete with “if you don’t like it, don’t move here”. OK. The conversation now begins to shift to (post 34) that we should be developing residential (yes, there are still vacant 25 x 100 lots, etc., in Hoboken) without any nod to parking. One would assume residential development without parking options will force mass transit into the forefront. Lofty, commendable goals. So what now do we tell the person who has owned an undeveloped plot of land for years, or even minutes? Other people could develop, but YOU have to hold it to five stories or less with no parking, mass transit will catch up as soon as the market demands? Or the person who bought a home in this town 20 years ago (to live in, not to get rich) who owns a parkingless condo or brownstone? Sorry, the new wave have legislated the idea that new housing without new parking is the way of it? That soon, in reality you will now be competing with seven people instead of two for that parking spot you come home to from your job of 20 years? It will take more like an hour to park than 10 minutes? Tough. In that case, if you don’t… Read more »

Thursday, April 30, 2009 8:37 pm

more parking = more traffic

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