Open Space Taken Away in Church Square Park

2/20/2008 Update:

A reader sent this in today:

“Tonight at the City Council Meeting, a parent has threatened from the last City Council meeting that he is going to bring a bunch of people to protest the trees that were planted this last fall in Church Square Park and demand that they be removed RIGHT NOW. I saw him speaking at the last meeting on the televised version of the meeting. Apparently there was an article in the Hoboken Reporter that discussed the park’s situation and that incensed him to make the demands because the article stated they had no intention of removing the trees.


Then last week this man wrote a letter to the paper stating what he had said at that meeting demanding the immediate removal of the trees (in the dead of winter, yet). In the latest issue of the Reporter, another person wrote a letter this week stating that the park should have trees and yet another letter underneath that letter was from a parent calling for the ‘fields’ for soccer, football, or whatever be ‘reinstated’ for the kiddies with no regard to anyone else that uses the park. She claimed we don’t need a “Sherwood Forest” in the park.

Huh??!! I would hardly say the park could be described as a forest.

Because of political delays by the administration with the Mayor possibly wanting to add another salaried person on staff to determine the fates of our parks, it looks like Peter Cunningham can’t introduce a city ordinance tonight that was written by concerned citizens because of the problems of the systematic destruction and division of Church Square Park. The ordinance states the following:

  1. There will be no more changes to any existing public park without public hearings and public consensus that the changes should be made.
  2. Changes that have been made to the existing public parks in recent years (in particular, to Church Square Park) must also be considered in open public hearings and, if it is the majority public consensus that the changes be undone, Church Square Park and other public parks will be returned to their original state.

It also appears that the people that are demanding that the trees be removed, also seem to be having a problem with the dog run in the park and some are worried that demands will be made upon that facet of the park.

There may be a presentation by a park group that consults on public parks that will speak tonight at the city council meeting, so it looks like fireworks tonight between the factions. Come one, come all to state your views.”

Concerned Hoboken park citizen

Read the rest after the jump.


Some things just don’t make sense. First, Hoboken has been honored as part of the “Tree City USA” program. Then, a few 100 year old trees are removed to make way for kiddy park. Along with other tree butchering going around Hoboken. Of course our super artificial grass in the park really closes the deal.

But this week, over 10 tree saplings were planted smack dab in the middle of the remaining (natural) open space left in Church Square Park! What? One reader writes: “Many parents view this as a blatant slap in the face, as the trees were obviously planted to stop kids from playing on that grass. I guess the city wants every school kid who uses Church Square Park to play on the turf..”

While another reader, Richard Kurland, writes another letter:

“To the Editor,

Once again open space has been taken away from the children of Hoboken. The corner of Church Square Park just north of the dog run has been used as a soccer field, a kickball diamond and a Frisbee field. It is one of the last remaining areas of unobstructed, open space left in the park. That space is now gone. On Tuesday, November 13, five small trees were planted smack in the middle of the field. The purpose appears to be to discourage ball playing in this area. Similar trees were planted in all the formally open spaces throughout the western half of the park. All of these trees have been planted as barriers to prevent any active recreation. The City is trying to herd like cattle the scores of children into the single small artificial turf section of the park.


Writing a letter AGAINST trees may be going against the grain, however, the process by which these trees were planted is flawed. Absolutely no public input was sought for this project nor was any warning given to the public that this work would be done. We have seen the same lack of respect from the City when they eliminated grass in order in install the new toddler park and when they killed three old trees installing the northern monkey bar set. In addition, no input was sought for the installation of the artificial turf. Had the public been asked, perhaps the City would not have designed this space with very large tree wells that not only create many tripping hazards, but also provide the pebbles that are now spread throughout the turf creating additional hazards.

We ask that these new trees be removed and planted along the sidewalks of our more desolate streets. Open space, no matter how small, is what is needed most.”


Richard Kurland
Meryl Kurland, age 9
Aaron Kurland, age 7


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129 Comments on "Open Space Taken Away in Church Square Park"

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I’ve been reading about the desecration of this park for a while, but since I don’t usually have occasion to walk past or in it, I haven’t seen what was done till last Saturday. I cannot believe that people have a allowed a beautiful park to be totally emaciated. It is now one huge playground and dog run. That park was one of the jewels of Hoboken and now it is gone. What were the barbarians who did this thinking? Who made the decision to turn that park into a huge children’s playground and dog run? ( Obviously, I know the dog run has been there for about 10 years.) What should have been done is the City of Hoboken should have bought the bank building across the street, which was a big lot with a parking lot, and built a children’s playground there instead of allowing more condos to be built. I totally support playgrounds for children and there are plenty of vacant lots the city could buy to build them. Taking a beautiful old park with wide graceful slate sidewalks and 150 year old trees that was an oasis and destroying it, is comparable to digging up a large portion of the Brooklyn or Bronx Botanical Gardens. This town did not have many parks when I moved here a lifetime ago but they sure as hell were nice. For all of you who are a tad slow, ( and let’s face it, this site does not always attract… Read more »

[quote comment=”69790″]
How fortuitous that you gave birth in that period from 1998 to 2003 that produced blame-free parents and progeny.[/quote]

Only one of my four children was born in that time period.

I am certainly not a perfect parent. When my kid is throwing a screaming tantrum in the middle of Panera, I am definitely not blame-free. I know other people are annoyed by my child, and I’m truly mortified. I try my best to grab my kid and run like the wind out of there.

My point was that I’m waiting for someone (parents, school administrators, other community members, etc.) to step forward and say that actual meetings about CSP really did occur at some point with the city. I just don’t believe it, and I’m tired of people blaming parents for all the kid stuff in the park. I’ve lived in this town for over 15 years, and I’ve been pretty involved, and I’ve never heard of any meetings. That doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. It seems to me that someone at City Hall should be able to look back at some records and come forth with some dates and times that these “supposed” meetings took place.
Hobokenmom: Lot’s of good points in post 121….and a very important point on post 125. [quote comment=”69785″]First off, I think one of the most frustrating things about this whole tree situation (and CSP in general) is that the City continues to do whatever it wants to do with the park, without the input from anyone in the community (parents, non-parents, etc.). It’s almost like they intentionally create controversy, and then they just do whatever they want to do anyway. [/quote] EXACTLY! and the primary reason to push the city council to pass the ordinance on public input and consensus on what is done with our public parks. I absolutely believe we, the citizens can ultimately come together on what is the best way to utilize our public spaces, existing and those we will, hopefully, have in the future. [quote comment=”69785″]The other frustrating thing is that the parents of elementary-school-age children living in Hoboken right now were probably not the same parents who supposedly *demanded* all these playgrounds, equipment, astroturf, etc. I know no one who has stepped forward to say that they ever met with anyone from the City and asked for any of the stuff that people seem to hate about their historic Church Square Park.[/quote] I’m not sure any parents participated and actually the city claims that it was the school administrators in the nearby private and perhaps charter schools. A few names have been mentioned and the one I recall is Jill Singleton. Google her name….it’s believable… Read more »

[quote comment=”69812″]

On a related note, I overheard once again an entitled and self-centered parent refer to Madison Park as a “toddler” water park. And if at this point a parent can say that, then there is nothing I can say or do to change their mind. They’ve already ignored the evidence of their senses.[/quote]

Or what they don’t realize is that their toddler will be a toddler for a mere year or two, and then their precious child will be the one knocking down (mostly unintentionally) the brand-new barely-walking toddlers. Toddlerhood is just one small blip on the radar screen of life.


Well said, Hobokenmom.

The sad thing is that a few extremist assholes have polarized the CSP issue, when in truth the vast majority of residents are perfectly willing to let the kids play among the saplings.

On a related note, I overheard once again an entitled and self-centered parent refer to Madison Park as a “toddler” water park. And if at this point a parent can say that, then there is nothing I can say or do to change their mind. They’ve already ignored the evidence of their senses.