Parks Committee Meeting Recap
Parks Committee discusses trees
The meeting was hosted by Councilmen Russo, Giacchi and Cunningham and was attended by a few (appox.12-14) residents (including 3 children) divided equally on the issue at hand, which was whether the newly planted trees in CSP should be removed. Also in attendance were Commissioner Rango and Director Peluso. While Councilman Russo didn’t publicly state his position on the issue, he mentioned off-the-record afterward that he does not approve of them.
It was reported at the meeting by Commissioner Rango that the changes which have been made to CSP over the last five or so years were part of a plan implemented largely by “strong lobbying” group of school administrators who originally requested that many more changes be incorporated into CSP than those the citizens currently see. According to Rango, the school administrators requested four monkey bar apparatus’, two large sections of Astroturf and a water park feature (similar to the feature at Jackson Square Park and Madison Park). What was done to the park represents a compromise made to the “strong lobbying” group.
The parents in attendance made it clear that they had had nothing to do with that lobbying effort, but believed that, since these additions to the park were encroaching on the necessary space for their children to run around for recess or sports activity, the trees needed to be removed.
Citizens in favor of leaving the trees expressed concern that if the trees were removed, ultimately the city would Astroturf the northwest quadrant. Councilpersons in attendance assured the residents that this would not happen.
Most of the parents expressed some measure of discomfort at what, essentially, amounted to lobbying against trees, but felt that, due to the lack of space, there was no option.
One citizen suggested that the children be brought to the soccer field for their organized sports, to which one parent responded that the walking distance to the soccer field cut into necessary recreation time. Curiously, the same parent avowed that, if there was a ball field in the Northwest section of Hoboken, she would go there.
Read the rest of the meeting recap after the break.
Then another citizen asked several parents if they had the choice between removing the trees and removing the monkey bars and Toddler Park, would they prefer to see the monkey bars and Toddler Park removed and the trees remain or visa versa. Most of the parents did not answer the question. One parent said that it was more practical to remove the trees than the apparatus equipment.
Another parent stated that she never saw anyone in the park except children.
One senior citizen expressed concern that children and seniors were being pitted against each other and was concerned that there was almost no passive space left for seniors to sit and read the paper or just relax. Another citizen concurred advising that his 80 year old mother no longer wanted to go to the park due to lack of passive space.
A citizen asked how much of the park is currently dedicated to recreational space. Director Peluso advised that 80% of the park is now dedicated to recreational activity of one sort or another. One parent felt that more than just the four newly planted trees being discussed should be removed and suggested specific areas of the park where additional trees could be removed and, perhaps, placed elsewhere on the streetscape where they belong. This parent also stated that the city should be ashamed that they provided more open space for dogs in Hoboken than they do for children. The parent further commented that “a child could be running to catch a ball and might run into a tree and die”.
At this point, the meeting disintegrated into an angry altercation among the attendees, one citizen stating that these parents seem to think that the park is only for their children and nobody else.
When the participants quieted down one parent, who stated that the planted trees were some of the most beautiful he had ever seen, felt that most of the anger had more to do with citizens feeling that changes had been made to the park without citizen input. The final citizen to comment, a non-parent, suggested that the parents were not doing the children a service in wanting things removed that ultimately would be the things that the children would remember, trees, historical things like buildings, etc.
The meeting concluded with the council advising that they would give all of the participants’ comments consideration before deciding what (if anything) would be done and mentioning that, perhaps, the needs of the community had change in the last five years.