HSPC says it will pay for appraisals
Hoboken Southwest Parks Coalition Announces
It Will Pay for Land Appraisals on Jackson Street Lots
Due to the outpouring of concern for their neighborhood and quality of life, residents who live in southwest Hoboken have continued to urge their local council members to push for the Jackson Street lot appraisals after recently being rejected by the city. Our local government’s excuse for not appraising the land or considering it for open space is that it believes it will be too expensive, and they only want to focus on the SW Park, a park that has been promised for over six years and has yet to exist in any tangible way.
The Hoboken Southwest Parks Coalition (HSPC) believes that not only should the city fulfill its promise of building the contiguous 6-acre park (SW6) in southwest Hoboken, it should also seek out any additional available land for open space. It is shortsighted for the City of Hoboken to not consider the Jackson Street lots for park space based solely on the unverified speculation of land values. In addition, one of the primary roles of our local government is to seek out ALL funding mechanisms for open space. We are not limited to a single county grant, and for the city to suggest it as the only means available for the SW Park is imprudent and illustrates that open space is a low priority for our elected officials. If our local government is truly doing its job, then it must research and apply for private foundation and state grants, as well as seek out corporate sponsors. There are thousands of funding sources and hundreds of millions of dollars available; the City of Hoboken must explore all avenues of funding.
Pursuing new open space is not wasteful spending, it is a necessary investment. So, to further the process on potentially acquiring the Jackson Street lots, HSPC will pay for the first $3,500 of the land appraisals cost. Any remaining balance, which would be minimal, can be covered by donations from residents.
HSPC’s intention is two-fold:
- We support the acquisition of land that is available and can be used for open space because it improves the quality of life in the neighborhood. In fact, open space is good for all of Hoboken. This does not diminish the need for the 6-acre SW Park. Our city is long overdue on that promise.
- We believe open space initiatives do not take a backseat to infrastructure improvements, they ride alongside one another. Green open space is one of the best ways to help mitigate flooding. Not only does the porous grass surface keep rainwater from flooding streets, flood mitigation material like Invisible Structures-Rainstore 3, a solid product with a 25-year track record, can be installed underneath the park and sidewalks to alleviate flooding. Invisible Structures, along with green open space, are a great way to mitigate the flooding in one of the worst flood-prone areas of Hoboken, the southwest neighborhood where these particular lots sit at the intersection of First and Jackson Streets.
By beginning the appraisal process, our community can move one step closer to attaining additional open space and the benefits it brings:
- Improvement of quality of life by providing green sanctuaries, play spaces, exercise spaces, and clean air
- Increased economic value by beautifying neighborhoods and improving property values
- Flood mitigation
Additional information on the Jackson Street Petition…
Jackson Street Petition to Acquire Lots for Open Space
Recap from City Council Meeting 3-20-2013
The following are some para-phrased excerpts and quotes from some of the council members and residents who discussed the Jackson Street Petition at the city council meeting in March 2013.
Councilman Dave Mello: “We can’t buy the lots on Jackson Street to satisfy Harrison Court. We have to look at building a big park [SW Park].”
Council members Ravi Bhalla and Jen Giattino agreed.
Council President Cunningham identified the council members who sit on the subcommittee that would discuss the petition at another time: Bhalla, Mello, Giattino (Chair).
Brian Brindisi, resident & Board President of Harrison Court Condo Association: “I want to tell you the genesis of of the petition. I walk by those lots everyday and was very excited when a for sale sign went up so I asked Councilman Occhipinti about acquiring them for open space. I know tons of people in the neighborhood who support acquiring these properties in addition to a large SW park. These are weed-infested lots. Sometimes the weeds are 6 feet high and it affects the quality of life for everyone in the neighborhood. These lots are dangerous to our children. There are exposed electrical wires and broken glass….The state of these lots would not be allowed on Washington Street….These lots are large enough to be used by the neighborhood. It’s not a question of size, the proximity to the residents is important. Right now, those lots are devaluing our properties. I’m asking the council and the city to take the first step and appraise the properties.”
Councilman Tim Occhipinti handed out copies of the petition with resident signatures and comments.
Council President Cunningham: “This will go to the subcommittee chaired by Council member Giattino.”
Councilman Occhipinti went ahead and read aloud the comments by residents in support of the petition and then addressed his council colleagues: “I hope we can work together to deliver [Jackson Street open space and a SW park] to them.”
Councilman Dave Mello: “I have been diligent in acquiring Block 12 and we shouldn’t let anything stand in the way of that goal.”
Mello went on to describe the litigious personality of the Jackson Street property owner even though he is now deceased. In addition, Mello said he’d like them to consider other properties instead of the Jackson street lots. He suggested the lot on Harrison Street (across from Sky Club) that sits behind the current Jackson Street Park. He would like to expand the current park and add “much needed swings” as he explained.
Councilman Mello held up the 60-page SW6 Plan created by HSPC and said “I want everyone of my neighbors to get on board and not obstruct this.”
Councilman Bhalla: “As the Mayor said, we don’t have unlimited funds for parks.”
Cunningham wanted to end the discussion and asked Giattino to continue it in a subcommittee meeting.
Chris Gizzi, President of HSPC: “I wasn’t going to speak but when I saw Councilman Mello hold up the SW6 plan that I co-authored, I had to say something. I am a member of HSPC and I have to say that this [acquiring Jackson Street lots for open space] will not impede progress on the larger SW park. It would be remiss of anyone to use fear or cost as a hesitation to action. I would ask that you put aside the aspects of the unknowns and let this process find its voice and see what we’re really capable of doing. This in no way inhibits the progress on a 6-acre park.”