4th Ward Park neglected by Mayor Zimmer
Hoboken council: “Yes” to eminent domain; “No” to $$ for SW Park
Based on the craftily-worded press releases coming out of Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s office, you might be stunned by that headline.
However, the Hoboken Southwest Parks Coalition dug through the recent outcome of events – and clarifies that the administration did NOTHING but play a poker hand.
Council Approves Eminent Domain To Acquire SW Park Land
$3 Mil County Grant Was NOT Approved For The SW Park
The council said the re-programming of the $3M in county grant funding for the SW park (as requested by Councilman Occhipinti) is the Mayor’s decision and they did not vote on it.
The actual resolution on last night’s council agenda: Resolution of support for the use of Eminent Domain in the Southwest portion of Hoboken (submitted by Administration)
The City Council approved the resolution 5-4. Yes: (Bhalla, Cunningham, Marsh, Mello, Occhipinti); No: (Castellano, Giattino, Mason, Russo).
Councilman Tim Occhipinti:
“The 4th Ward residents have waited longer than 3rd ward residents for a park. Sinatra already has $12M in bonding and there has been no movement on the SW park. Our Freeholder, Romano, will support the money [$3M] being re-programmed for the SW. Bring us the evidence that you need to use eminent domain. Councilman Mello, if I support this, which Corporation Counsel says has no bearing, will we put forward the re-programming of funds to the SW?”
Councilman Dave Mello:
“Previous councils showed no willingness to use eminent domain. This kills the Administration’s leverage to go into negotiations. Nobody wants to use their bombs, but it helps in peace negotiations. We need to get the property prices close to appraised values.”
Councilman Michael Russo:
“This eminent domain pigeonholes us. You don’t need a resolution to use eminent domain. We always have the ability to use eminent domain.” Regarding the $3M grant, Russo felt the money would be better spent on the 6th & Jackson property which he described as more shovel-ready. “It might not be appropriate to put the $3M into the SW and rush this process. The Administration and Directors should find another place to put the funds which will then remove this resolution [eminent domain] from the table.”
Councilwoman Carol Marsh:
“I don’t take eminent domain lightly. I do support this.” Regarding the $3M grant, Marsh felt that if the funds are used on Sinatra Field, then “we are eating $3M in land acquisition funding.”
Councilwoman Beth Mason:
“This is unnecessary and not the way to do it. We need to do it with transparency with the property owners. We only heard about this three hours before tonight’s meeting.” Regarding the $3 M in grant funding, Mason inquired with Director Forbes if the money could be split between the SW park and another project in need. Director Forbes did not have the answer for that.
Councilwoman Theresa Castellano:
“This is a very sneaky underhanded tactic [eminent domain] to take property. There’s been no proper notice to the public or the property owners. This is a tactic by the Administration to say we voted against parks.”
Councilman Peter Cunningham:
“I was against eminent domain five years ago on the 11th & Grand property. It was a bad project. This project [SW] has a benefit to all residents of the city by providing parks and flood mitigation. I’m in support of seeing this done. And flood mitigation is what I support.”
Council President Ravi Bhalla:
“I can think of at least two members who support putting the funds towards the SW park, but they haven’t offered the tools necessary to move that forward.”
Councilwoman Jen Giattino:
(No audible quote from her regarding eminent domain but she did inquire if the $3M grant would need to be spent in a one year period. She did say she wants the $3M to go towards Sinatra Field.)
Will Hoboken Mayor Zimmer finally fulfill a 2007 campaign promise?
In case you forgot, Dawn Zimmer ran for council in 2007 promising the Southwest Park was her first priority.
Now with two full years as Mayor under her belt, she is still dragging her feet on a study of the zone. Western Edge was her first priority as Mayor and the Southwest is the forgotten stepchild as she panders to her Fifth Ward campaign contributors and punishes her own neighbors for rejecting Mike Lenz and Rami Pinchevsky.
$3 Million in funding available for SW Hoboken
Today, Councilman Tim Occhipinti announced:
4th Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti called on Mayor Zimmer and Councilman Mello to consider rerouting $3 million in unused grant money from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund. The application deadline to reprogram funding is Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 and the actual grant expires on August 13, 2011.
“The Southwest Park can become a reality and over the past few months the City has made progress towards the creation of the park,” said Occhipinti. “We have a golden opportunity to put unused money towards a much-needed project in the often-neglected 4th Ward and I’m afraid we are going to lose out.”
This year Hudson County is giving municipalities a “one-time” chance to re-program unused funding from the Open Space Trust Fund for eligible projects. The City of Hoboken is currently seeking to redirect this funding and can seek an extension for this grant, only if the City has demonstrated progress towards a project.
“We need to double our efforts to create a park in the 4th Ward and the Administration has no plans or intentions to move this project forward. That’s $3 million that could be redirected for land acquisition purposes for the Southwest Park,” said Occhipinti.
“I’m urging Mayor Zimmer and Councilman Mello, both 4th Ward residents, to make this park a priority. This has the potential to be a missed opportunity to create new open space. Zimmer and Mello should be tireless advocates for this project and I urge them to uphold their commitment to creating open space and improving the quality of life for our residents.”
More on Tim Occhipinti
Tim Occhipinti serves as the 4th Ward City Councilman for the City of Hoboken. Occhipinti recently won re-election to the City Council and currently serves on the Quality of Life Sub-Committee.