Friday, July 20, 2018

Councilwoman Jen Giattino: "Loading Zones Coming To A Street Near You!"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors - 

I wanted to update you on the Loading Zone Pilot Program that I introduced to temporarily establish curbside loading zones at the locations below.  The goals of the PILOT program are to reduce parking in crosswalks, facilitate safe and orderly curbside loading in predominately residential areas, and improve street safety for all users.  

According to our signal and traffic department, they will begin installing the loading zone signs on Monday.  The temporary loading zones will be available between 8am-6pm, Monday through Saturday.  This program will go for 180-days during which time the Parking and Transportation Department will be evaluating the effectiveness of the program.  To the extent that the program is considered successful, we will look to design and implement a program for the rest of the city.  

  • Sixth Street - South side, west of the intersection with Garden
  • Eighth Street – South side, west of the intersection with Garden
  • Garden Street – West side, south of the intersection with 7th
  • Garden Street – East side, south of the intersection with 10th
  • Park Ave – East side, north of the intersection with 6th
  • Park Ave – East side, north of the intersection with 7th
  • Park Ave – East side, north of the intersection with 8th
  • Park Ave – East side, north of the intersection with 9th
  • Park Ave – East side, north of the intersection with 10th
  • Willow Ave - East side, south of the intersection with 6th
  • Willow Ave - East side, south of the intersection with 8th
  • Willow Ave - East side, south of the intersection with 9th
  • Willow Ave - East side, south of the intersection with 10th
  • Clinton Street – East side, north of the intersection with 6th
  • Clinton Street – East side, north of the intersection with 7th
  • Clinton Street – East side, north of the intersection with 9th
  • Clinton Street – East side, north of the intersection with 10th
Once they are implemented in your neighborhood, I would love to get feedback from you.  

Sign of the Times: And the home of....

New York Waterway?

Beautiful skies are the backdrop to the American flag flying with the
NY Waterway flag below at the former Union Dry Dock site earlier today.

Wednesday night Stevens Institue hosted the Army Corps of Engineers for a hearing on the determination of the former Union Dry Dock hosting operations for New York Waterway.

Hoboken residents joined local officials in urging another solution foregoing refueling operations at the location but the likelihood from your friendly neighborhood Horsey says a decision is likely coming sooner than later.

Once it does, Hoboken's historical character of sea vessels coming and going will more likely than not be preserved with NY Waterway operating on the Mile Square City shores.

Talking Ed Note: Hudson County View covered the almost four-hour hearing filing its video/report. 

A local heckler decided it was a good time to take their foaming marching orders from the "No Borders' nihilist Left and shout at Freeholder Anthony Romano about Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) work/funding efforts in the county. Maybe MS-13, reportedly taken hold in the area should come down the hill and lop off his head and those stupidly applauding.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

As Washington St. stalls, where's Ravi?

It's only six months into a four year term as mayor but Ravi Bhalla is exhibiting lackadasical execution on a number of fronts creating confusion and concern among Hoboken residents. Hopes shared he would perform as mayor for all Hoboken with only 32% of the vote last year are fading and being replaced by a continuing hyperpartisan agenda to move up the political ladder and get out of the Mile Square City asap.

Further hopes he would marshall sufficient attention on two major issues: completing the stalled and out of control vastly overspent Washington Street renovation and identifying an alternative home for NY Waterway operations at the former Union Dry Dock are souring.

Washington St.'s renovation continues at a stalled pace far behind the promised
August completion date by Mayor Ravi Bhalla. His recent prediction lauding
himself it would be paved to Ninth St. by mid-July has fallen far short too.
Only weeks back, Bhalla had hailed his 'accomplishment' of seeing Washington St. paved up to Ninth St. by mid-July. The congratulations to himself in the future has turned out to be a fiasco as the main street renovations are paved well short.

The latest fiasco with gender neutral bathrooms whereby Mayor Ravi Bhalla made a big production seeking maximum publicity for himself but doing nothing is illustrative.

On the upside, inheriting a strong financial rating and budget fundamentals has seen this year's municipal taxes flat (although next year will be far more challenging). Council meetings show no sign of returning to the rancor earlier this decade even with Bhalla's declaration of war in March on all members who are not agreeable to rubber stamping his every wish.

However, at the last council meeting, two planted Ravibots believed by some councilmembers closely connected to the mayor's political aide Jason Freeman made appearances, firebreathing ugly Ravi Bhalla talking points attacking its members. According to some on the receiving end, they were obviously repeating Ravi Bhalla's private remarks and threats sans curses. Lacking the substance of veracity, it foreshadows the dirty campaigning last year is ready to be unleashed far in advance of the fall council ward races set for 2019.

Hoboken would like to see Washington St. on the way toward completion although it won't be until well into 2019 and many millions over budget. The Mile Square City would also like to see Hoboken work with county and state governemnt to find an alternative home for NY Waterway ferry operations at the former Union Dry Dock. Of course most would appreciate a break from dirty campaigning but can Ravi and his political aides refrain? None of it reflects well on Jason Freeman or Ravi Bhalla to this point if the last council meeting is an example of what's coming.

Ravi is developing quite a reputation for an inability to get along and "play nice" with others. Recently, there's whispers he's gotten into a less than cordial exchange with County Executive Tom DeGise about adhering to US law working with federal law enforcement on criminal illegal aliens detained. DeGise declined to change the county policy during the Obama Administration on cooperation with federal authorities when alleged criminals are placed under arrest and risk $8 million in federal funding.

Once again, Bhalla thinks taking hyperpartisan radical leftist positions will vault him into higher political office. He's not showing any sign of changing that strategy to fast track himself out of town. As his indifference to substance became more readily apparent, residents are beginning to wonder where's Ravi when it comes to Hoboken and its local issues.

Talking Ed Note. Ravi Bhalla did return from another out of town trip in Toronto in time to make an appearance at Stevens for the Army Corps of Engineers hearing on usage by NY Waterway at the former Union Dry Dock. Now what?

MSV hears suggestions about holding another annual online drive. Here's the chance to support good government watchdogs/watchhorses and continue to press for performance and results adhering to same.

MSV is entering its seventh year of fighting (and winning) frivolous litigation. It's but one of a handful of falsified civil and criminal attempts to end the almost nine years long efforts here to see Hoboken stop being used and abused at all levels. Stand and be counted for good government, well, anonymously.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Community: Union Dry Dock Public Hearing details

Official release:

Agency Logo
Wednesday July 18, 2018

City of Hoboken, NJ

Community: TONIGHT: Union Dry Dock Public Hearing

Dear Horsey & MSV readers,

The Army Corps of Engineers will hold a public hearing tonight, Wednesday, July 18 from 6-9 p.m. in the DeBaun Auditorium at Stevens Institute (24 5th Street). The hearing is a chance for the public to express their views on New York Waterway’s permit application to turn the Union Dry Dock property into a diesel depot.

Everyone will be given an opportunity to share their thoughts, and any person may speak on their own behalf or be represented by someone else. Each speaker will be limited to three minutes, but lengthier testimonies may be submitted in writing.

The hearing will be reported verbatim, and a transcript will be available to the public at the end of the comment period. The notice of the public hearing can be found here.

Councilwoman Jen Giattino: Tonight - Army Corps of Engineers Public Hearing

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors - 

Please attend tonight's meeting to oppose New York Waterway's permit application for a homeport and diesel refueling facility.

Tonight, July 18, 2018 from 6 to 9 p.m.
DeBaun Auditorium
Stevens Institute of Technology
24 Fifth Street, Hoboken, NJ

Visit links below for more information

As always reach out with thoughts and concerns,


Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "It's a big day for Hoboken"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:  
On this gorgeous night tonight, please join your neighbors at 5th and Hudson and lend your support for defending and keeping a Diesel Depot from locating on the middle of our waterfront.  We ALL want NYWW ferries, we just want their fueling, storage and maintenance operations to find an alternative site to the former Union Dry Dock site which is amidst our ever evolving public, residential and recreational waterfront.   
What:  Army Corps of Engineers – Public Hearing
When:  6-9pm
Where:  Debaun Auditorium (5th and Hudson)
Why you need to come:  
The USACOE needs to know that this is important to Hoboken.  If no one comes, then they will think it is NOT important.  Don’t rely on just your neighbor to fill a seat for you.  WE NEED BOTH SEATS FILLED!  You don’t have to speak, you can sit in the audience.  You can arrive and leave anytime between 6-9.  We are hoping people will be there early for a larger crowd when most of the public officials and experts will speak, but if you can only come at 845 please do! 
What to expect at a public hearing:  
  • At a public hearing, the agency, in this case the USACOE, will sit at a table and receive comments from the public.  Other than introductions about the process, it is not a presentation, nor a back and forth.  
  • Those wishing to speak will sign in when they arrive on a speaker list and then will find a seat in the audience.  If you have not been, DeBaun is an auditorium so the seating is theatre seating.
  • In terms of order of speakers, the USACOE will follow the order below.  We expect most of these to speak at the beginning.  The USACOE will call the names of speakers and SPEAKERS WILL ONLY GET 3 MINUTES TO SPEAK:
    • Applicant first to describe only scope of work (NYWW).
    • Elected officials and their representatives / professionals in hierarchal order (tonight will include Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro, Mayor Bhalla, myself, Hoboken's engineers and attornies, and possibly others).
    • Native American Tribal representatives (if any).
    • Organized environmental groups (eg. Fund for Better Waterfront).
    • Organized citizen groups (eg. Hoboken Residents for a Better Waterfront, Resilience Paddleboard, Hoboken Cove).
    • Private Citizens (in order of arrival).
  • If you come, you don’t have to speak.  You can come and just sit in the hearing and lend your support by being present.
What are the talking points and issues:
The USACOE is specifically focused on the public and environmental impact.  This can be the impact on those who live nearby and / or enjoy the recreational facilities in the area to the many water species found in the area to environmental contamination and any and all in between.  
A big issue for the USACOE and for us is whether or not NYWW’s operations are in fact a material CHANGE IN USE at the site that would trigger more thorough site/soil/sediment testing and investigation than if there was no change in use.  NYWW are arguing that there is no change in use.  I am told that those who live near the site saw boats coming and going from the site 2-4 TIMES PER WEEK!  But what is being proposed by NYWW is 80 TIMES PER DAY.
Talking points for YOU to consider:
  • Your experience living near or visiting the site and how the new fueling operations will change that.
  • Your fears about a NY Waterway Ferry striking and potentially killing a kayaker / paddleboarder that launches from Hoboken Cove not unlike the NY Waterway ferry that struck kayakers in 2016.
  • our concerns about contamination on the site from the historical use that may not be stirred up because the significant increase in boat activity.
  • Your concerns about having a DIESEL DEPOT adjacent to parks and schools where children and families play 
    • Elysian Park, Maxwell Park, Hoboken Cove, Montessori School, Skate Park, Fishing Pier, Multi Use Path, Bike Lanes on Sinatra Drive;
    • consider fuel spills both in the water and on land; and
    • that the significant fueling operations is a MATERIAL USE CHANGE vs. Union Dry Dock.
  • Your observations that having a dry dock facility (prior use) that maintains 2-4 boats per week seems significantly different than one that will refuel an entire fleet of >20 boats and have capacity to moor 20 boats today.
  • Your concerns about NYWW expanding their operations over time.  Today NYWW are seeking approval to store 10 boats daily that they say would require 40 daily trips.  But their maps actually show that the facilities will accomodate 20 boats.  What will this look like over time? Once NYWW is there, the analysis to expand will be an incremental one – so only looking at the incremental impact at that time, not the cumulative one.
  • Your understanding that there are alternative sites, and that a 2009 study by NJ Transit (attached) actually shows Hoboken’s Lackawana terminal as the #1 choice for ferry operations.  Click HERE to learn more from FBW.
  • Your observation that this is a private vs. public interest argument demanding that public interests be prioritized.  NYWW is a private company.  They sold their land to a private developer for profit.  They don't want to go to Bayonne to protect their profits.  The NJ Transit study cited above references the pressure from JC's LeFrak Organization, the developer behind Newport, as the biggest impediment to NYWW moving to Lackawana.  And LCOR, the developer of NJ Transit's Railyard's Project in Hoboken told me that the land was too valuable there for ferry operations.  ENOUGH!!!!!!!! 
  • Your understanding that the Hoboken Cove is home to over 70 marine species, some of which are endangered and the wave and contamination from diesel fuel impacts will threaten these species.  Click HERE to read more.
  • And finally, your support for the decades of work that has gone into protecting our waterfront for the public’s use.  Click HERE or Google Waterfront Referendum Hoboken to learn more... This one single action sets us on a reversal of history.
If this is important to you, please plan to attend.  You DO NOT NEED TO STAY THE ENTIRE TIME.  But we would like to have as many people as possible there at the beginning.  I was out handing out flyers with and to neighbors at the Ferry and on Washington St and around the bus stops, and anecdotally 99% of Hoboken residents do not want NYWW to run their operations at the former UDD site.  And the 1% who were not opposed, said it was for fear that we are risking NYWW shutting down which I do not believe is a necessary nor realistic possibility given the importance of this mode of transportation to our region.
I hope you will attend tonight.  It is THAT important that we fill the room.  
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Councilman Mike DeFusco: Hoboken City Hall Restrooms Still Not Gender Neutral Three Months After Mayor's Exec Order

Official release

Three Months After Mayor’s Executive Order, Hoboken City Hall, Park Restrooms Still Not Gender Neutral

DeFusco: Bhalla More Interested in ‘Splashy Headlines’ than Governing 

Nearly three months after Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced an Executive Order mandating that single use bathrooms in Hoboken be labeled as “Gender Neutral,” the order has not been implemented at restrooms in City Hall and at city parks. The order stated that it went into effect immediately after being signed on April 25, and it was later followed by an ordinance passed on May 16 that took the same action at city businesses. Hoboken Councilman Mike DeFusco, the city’s only openly gay elected official, is speaking out on the Bhalla administration’s failure to follow through on these policies:

“Three months ago I stood with Mayor Ravi Bhalla when he announced an executive order mandating single use bathrooms on City property be made gender neutral. Unfortunately, the order has not been implemented in either City Hall or within our park system, where signage still indicates the gender exclusive approach the Mayor's executive order said would end. Further, my ordinance to mandate single use bathrooms be gender neutral in businesses city-wide formally went into effect this past Sunday and here too, nothing has changed. Frustratingly, there has been no effort from the Mayor to inform business owners about the change or work with them to abide by it, and there has certainly not been any effort to enforce the law.

I would think somebody like Ravi Bhalla, who has been praised as a progressive leader and who knows what it’s like to feel like an outsider, would stand by his words on this important social issue. Sadly, that’s not the case and he’s proven yet again that he will say whatever he needs to advance his career while important work goes undone.

All of this fits an increasingly clear pattern of Mayor Bhalla being more interested in splashy headlines than in doing the real follow-through work of governing. It’s the same story on Washington Street. While businesses are suffering, the Bhalla Administration is lauding itself on progress all the while quietly requesting another $500,000 in additional contractor cost overruns and pushing the project's completion well into 2019. These aren’t the only examples of important city goals being unmet by this administration.

Mayor Bhalla says that his second job at a politically-connected law firm isn't a distraction from city business, but the results say otherwise. The City Council must exercise continued oversight to ensure that important projects and initiatives get done.”

Attached: Pictures of Hoboken City Hall, Pier C Restrooms taken today

Hudson County Alert: Flash Flood Watch

Official release:

Agency Logo
Tuesday July 17, 2018

Hudson County Office of Emergency Management


Dear Horsey & MSV readers,

Flash Flood Watch for Hudson County, New Jersey
From 12:00pm EDT, Tue Jul 17 until 10:00pm EDT, Tue Jul 17

Action Recommended: Avoid the subject event as per the instructions
Issued by: New York City - NY, US, National Weather Service,


Monday, July 16, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "Time Is Now to Act - Union Dry Dock (former site)!"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:  THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!
  • 7/18 (Wednesday)– UNION DRY DOCK (former) / NYWW SITE    
  • Army Corps of Engineers – Public Hearing
  • 6-9pm
  • Debaun Auditorium (5th and Hudson)
Come for all or part - come early if you can.  The Auditorium seats a few hundred and we need to fill all seats. RSVP TO ME THAT YOU ARE COMING or RSVP HERE TO THE EVENT ON FB.  WE NEED A BIG CROWD. 
This is our chance to be heard and explain to the Army Corps of Engineers why having NYWW’s Diesel Depot in the center of our waterfront is bad for our environment and our community.   If this is important to you, please plan to attend.  You DO NOT NEED TO STAY THE ENTIRE TIME.  But we would like to have as many people as possible there at the beginning/during the first hour.  
We will circulate some talking points between now and then, but for not, just make sure you are clearing your schedule and plan to join.  Feel free to reach out to Fund for Better Waterfront, Residents for a Public Waterfront, Mayor Bhalla or me to discuss or learn more.
And as always, if you have any questions or want to discuss this or anything else, please feel free to call me at 201/208-1674.  Have an amazing week and see you on Wednesday!
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”
PS - Attached to this email is an electronic version of the flier.  Please forward to anyone and everyone you know.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: New Engineer, Construction Manager to be engaged on Washington St., calendar of events

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:

This is a quick update (for me anyway…) as I am about to leave for a pedestrian safety workshop at the NJTPA in Newark.  This Friday the 13th update includes important upcoming events, and some quick words on Stevens, Washington St. and the new website!
7/18 (Wednesday)– UNION DRY DOCK (former) / NYWW SITE - CALL TO ACTION! 
Army Corps of Engineers Public Hearing from 6-9pm in Hoboken at DeBaun Auditorium.  Come for all or part.  The Auditorium seats a few hundred and we need to fill all seats.  PUT ON YOUR CALENDAR.  ITS HERE.  WALK THE WALK.  DON’T SIT HOME.  ENGAGE. ADVOCATE. ENGAGE. ADVOCATE. RSVP TO ME THAT YOU ARE COMING or RSVP HERE TO THE EVENT ON FB.  WE NEED A BIG CROWD.  DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?!?!?!?!
7/14 (Saturday) - CITY OF WATER DAY 
It is going to be a gorgeous day so come to Maxwell Park/Hoboken Cove for a FREE family waterfront festival from 10-4.  From Fund For Better Waterfront’s site:
Free Kayaking.  BioBlitz/Trash Free Seas/Water Quality Testing Workshops beginning every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (sign up HERE).  And the following lineup of speakers and music: 
  • 10 a.m. Noelle Thurlow, Hoboken neighbor: Stewardship of the Hudson River & the Hoboken Cove
  • 11 a.m. Laura from Little City Books: Storytime for eco-minded young readers
  • 12 p.m Michael Sardinas of the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association
  • 1 p.m. Zach Schwitzky: Commuting to NYC via kayak
  • 1:30 & 2:30 The Fuzzy Lemons: write a song about the Hudson River and dance along with Hoboken’s favorite family-friendly rock’n’rollers
Also under the Main Tent, boost your local environmental stewardship: visit the Fund for a Better Waterfront, the Hoboken Green Team, Rebuild by Design, Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront and Climate Mobilization Hoboken to learn how you can protect the Hudson River and our very own Hoboken Cove.  Hosted by FBW, Waterfront Alliance and Hoboken Residents for a Better Waterfront.  
Will be 7pm at the park located at the northeast corner of 15th and Park Ave.  Whether you are for, against, or somewhere in the middle, this is the time to come and share your views.  More voices matter.
The Council carried the vote on the Steven’s rezoning Wednesday night, but opened the public hearing which will remain open through the 25th.  Councilwoman Giattino reached out to Stevens and made this recommendation to them so that we can allow more members of the public to learn about the rezoning, Steven’s growth plans, and provide feedback.  Please come that night – it will be at City Hall in Council Chambers – where Stevens will provide their presentation.  If you cannot join in person, then please watch online.  I have seen it and like Councilman Russo said during our meeting, agree that it is quite impressive.  The City Council can take a vote that night, and although we discussed it potentially happening at the regular meeting on 8/1, I expect it probably will. So please come and be a part of it.
At the meeting there were a number of speakers who came, mostly sharing their views on the great asset that Stevens is to our community, which I wholly agree.  I have received 75 responses to my Tuesday email and the feedback is as follows (about half are from 2nd ward residents, and the other half are dispersed around the city with the biggest concentration around the Steven’s campus as you can imagine).  Summary – 17 absolute yes’s with the remainder wanting to see the plan changed in some way, with the main theme’s being:
  • Almost unanimous support for Stevens
  • Think having Stevens as a partner is a huge asset and drives local economic growth
  • Want to support some growth
  • Don’t like precedent nature of tall buildings on the rest of Hoboken
  • Don’t like tall buildings
  • Don’t feel the public was engaged in this process 
  • Question whether Stevens is giving enough concessions to get this signficant upzoning  
  • Concerned Steven’s is not paying their fair share for municipal services (roads, fire, police off campus) like other non-taxpaying private universities often do (Seton Hall, Princeton, etc..)
Washington St. Update 
In the simplest terms, with no change in path, we are looking at a probably late winter / early spring completion of the Washington St. project per T&M (our consultant).  They provided this estimate on page 10 of their change order recommendation letter that was in our agenda pack, but I missed until was pointed out by a member of the public.  Their phrase "additional 147 more days may be needed beyond the time approved in this change order."
But we are changing the path.  On Monday I sent the following to Mayor Bhalla, his Chief of Staff and his Deputy Chief of Staff:
"What is keeping our new City Engineer and Construction Manager from being fully engaged in our Washington Street project?  My understanding is they are only to be consulted if needed.  They both bring in-house, project management and commercial expertise that has been sorely lacking and is so necessary for the success of the project." 
I received no response.  But on Tuesday, at my Finance and Infrastructure Council Subcommittee meeting, we were joined by our new engineer, Kimberli Craft, for the first time and were told she would now be fully engaged in the project.  And in the closed session of the City Council on Wednesday where we were introduced to our construction attorney for the first time, the entire council was assured that Ms. Craft would be fully engaged and lead contact with T&M on the project going forward.  At the Council meeting, although we did approve the change orders and the contractual extension request of 29 days, the City Council demanded from T&M that they identify a more expeditious path to completion.  I have set up a now standing weekly subcommittee meeting (includes Council Vice President Giattino and Councilwoman Jabbour) to keep closer review of the project.  
Throughout all of these meetings and communications we have implored the Administration to keep the focus on the completion of the project, and consider not only all alternatives to do so, but also consider what we – the City – can do in parallel to make the disruption and devastation to our business community as minimal as possible.  Some possible ideas be considered include:  offering some amount of validated/low cost parking in our garages throughout the remainder of the project, taking a work holiday between Thanksgiving and the New Year even if it means adding time at the end, prior to then adding a 2” topcoat to all portions of Washington St. not yet paved (assuming we complete through 9th in the next few weeks) to provide a smoother surface while completing the project.  Any ideas from you are welcome.  As someone on twitter said to me yesterday “don’t hesitate to reach out if taxpayer input can help protect the city’s interests.”  My response was taxpayer (and any resident for that matter) input can ALWAYS help protect the city’s interests.   You know what I always say... (more voices...)
New City Website!  
If you haven’t yet checked it out, please do!  So much more user friendly!  And be sure to stop by my page to read my new bio and learn a little more about me! (City still working on formatting...)
And as always, if you have any questions or want to discuss this or anything else, please feel free to call me at 201/208-1674.  Have an amazing weekend and I hope you can get outside and enjoy some of this spectacular weather!

Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Horse Sense: Stevens Institute Redevelopment Towers & Plan tabled

Last night in the City Council, an organized plan to have a series of public speakers advocate for an upzoned massive Stevens Institute redevelopment plan with new towers did not see a final vote.

The vote on the matter was tabled putting off a final decision.

Is it becoming a pattern in the Mile Sqaure City to see massive redevelopment plans approved after the July 4th holiday at the sole council meeting in July when Hoboken residents are least paying attention?

More towers like this at Stevens?
That's what was being hurtled
through the council last night.
The last massive redevelopment plan approved at 7th and Jackson went down similarly but this effort on behalf of Stevens Institute is especially suspect as there's hardly any public awareness whatsoever on the massive towers and upzoning redevelopment proposed.

A list of residents obviously organized by Stevens appeared in an effort to see the massive redevelopment quickly (and quietly) passed. A string of public speakers, many with direct connections to the school appeared and argued it was all positive. Many spoke of the lack of impact on Hoboken's environment and sightlines. Almost all of them are low rise living residents on the eastern side of town such as Hudson Street. They have no views as it is.

Many taxpayers in Hoboken however would see their views impacted by massive new towers atop the tallest location in the Mile Square. The impact of the plan was questioned by others and the lack of awareness in the public makes this summer redevelopment push all the more suspect.

It's obvious that the support from the Bhalla Administration is not enough to see the plan approved. It coordinated people to go to the microphone and push for a final vote but the council opted to table the vote. That's the difference between a City Council evaluating a massive redevelopment plan from where it sits and the Bhalla Administration that actively seeks to decimate it with a rubber stamp put in its place.

In order for a City Council vote to have any meaning, the public needs time to evaluate and discuss the impact to the wider community. That discussion hasn't even taken place and the massive redevelopment plan was being crammed downt their throats.

Dial it back and see what the public actually thinks and may have to offer by way of feedback before holding any final vote.

Some people ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Talking Ed Note: Lots of piss and vinegar about the stalled Washington St. project exhaled last night. None of it changes anything nor the project ownership by Mayor Ravi Bhalla who has failed to meet his promises to make Hoboken a priority in his neverending political ambition tour.

MSV will have more on the backtracking, promise-breaking and failed expectations on Washington St. to come. There's a lot of shady things going leading to this cluster. Whistleblowers, vendors, failed shadow mayors, etc. send your tale of woe to

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher requests feedback on Stevens re-zoning

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:
This is one of those times where not only do I want your input, but I need it.  This year is the beginning of a big, long-awaited effort to make zoning updates and upgrades in Hoboken.  I will send out a more detailed description of what this means and how it works at a later date.  
But first up:  re-zoning of the Steven’s campus. 
There are a number of changes being proposed that I have summarized below, but they mainly involve bringing more of their students onto campus and allowing for future growth in their enrollment.  Both of which are great causes, but also require increased density on campus (and collateral effect in town), and moreover increased height which is always a sensitive topic in our town.  
Tomorrow night I will be potentially voting on the second reading (so final vote) for the ordinance that will codify (make legal) all of the proposed changes.  This ordinance already reflects the input and approval of Mayor Bhalla.  My choices in voting will be:
  • Yes
  • No
  • Suggest modifications and re-introduce as 1st reading with 2nd reading at the 8/1 meeting
The reason Stevens is up first is that the City (Mayor, Administration and Council) are trying to work closely together with Stevens on its 10-year operating plan which kicks off this fall with construction of a new, two-tower student center and housing complex.  But Stevens can only move forward with this plan if this ordinance gets approved in time.  If Stevens cannot start this fall, their plan gets pushed an entire school year.  It is slightly dated, but you can read an earlier version of their 10 yr plan HERE (most of the assumptions still apply) which gives some good information about Stevens and their vision. 
So I would like your thoughts on whether you support the proposed changes, or not.   
High-level summary of the proposed zoning changes (boundary, bulk and uses):
Current zoning (I am focusing only on major items).
  • R-1(E) – Residential Higher Education (click here to read detail).  
  • The area encompasses the entire campus excluding their waterfront property, and then both sides of Castle Point between 8th and 9th, and the east side only of Castle Point between 9th and 10th.  
  • Effectively, the campus currently has two sub-areas that are delineated by proximity to surrounding neighborhoods with the only difference being allowable height in those areas:
    • 200ft from Hudson, 5th and 8th Sts. – 40’ or 4 stories can be built with 50% lot coverage
    • All other areas – 100’ or 10 stories can be built with 50% lot coverage
  • Most traditional education uses are permitted, others are conditional (requiring board approval) 
Proposed zoning (reflecting changes in red)
  • The area would be reduced to exclude all of Castle Point (so existing zoning for those areas remains until changed).
  • The campus would now have three zones – 
      • Includes most of the prior area that was 200ft from Hudson, 8th and 5th streets.  
      • Any building in this area must blend in with the surrounding residential areas.
      • Lot coverage increases to 70% from 50%. 
      • No change in bldg. height
    • CORE
      • Everything else but the Edge zone (listed next).  
      • Buildings here can have a broader design.  
      • Lot coverage can go as high as 70% (from 50%), with green infrastructure.
      • Bldg height – no change in stories, 20 ft increase to 120 ft.
    • EDGE
      • New, area along the eastern edge of the campus facing the water (think Howe Center and Babbio, going south to 5th St.)
      • Buildings here need to be oriented to the water and provide view corridors.
        • Lot coverage can go as high as 70% (from 50%), with green infrastructure.
        • Bldg height 
          • 1st proposed building can have 2 towers that are 225 foot from grade (ground).  This is approximate 285 feet higher than Sinatra Drive.  And about 20ish feet lower than the W.  NOTE: This height has already been reduced after discussions between Stevens and Mayor Bhalla.  And, the Administration claims that they have agreed with Stevens that the two towers will differ in height, with one being about 2 stories lower, but that is not reflected in the ordinance.
          • All other buildings can be 200 feet high from grade – a 100ft increase.  Nothing currently planned but can probably accommodate at least two more buildings. 
The ordinance also has considerable, additional requirements pertaining to use and approvals necessary for any material changes in existing footprint – effectively giving the city a seat at the table in many future development discussions.  
Thoughts on what this achieves for Hoboken:
Consolidates Students on Campus
  • Pros for Hoboken: less students in the rest of Hoboken taking less shuttles to campus.  
  • Cons for Hoboken: less students as neighbors off campus/less diversity.  Increases density in Hoboken because housing taking up currently by students who may not have cars, will now be marketed to individuals more apt to have cars.  Takes students out of the city where they spend money at many of our restaurants and stores.
Allows Stevens to Grow
  • Pros for Hoboken:  More students, more professors and administrators, more people supporting our local businesses.  Stevens has been a great partner to Hoboken and is part of our history.  They provide considerable STEM programming for our local schools and give annual scholarships and we hope and expect this to continue and expand.  
  • Cons for Hoboken:  Providing for increased density without a full understanding of the traffic, circulation and parking impact to Hoboken.
Taller Buildings 
  • Pros for Hoboken:  Potential for architecturally interesting buildings for our skyline.  The height sets a good precedent for other developments (if you are supportive of height).
  • Cons for Hoboken: The height sets a bad precedent for other developments (if you are height sensitive).  
Waterfront Plans Not Included
  • Pros for Hoboken:  Can have robust conversations with Stevens at a later date to best protect/use our waterfront.
  • Cons for Hoboken:  Once zoning is approved for the rest of the campus, not much left to trade. 
For what it is worth, I am a HUGE fan of Stevens.  Under the leadership of their current President, Nariman Farvardin Stevens has achieved many recent successes including a significantly improved relationship with the City of Hoboken.  You can read in their 10 yr. plan beginning on page 14 the myriad connections they have with Hoboken and I just hope we will see these expand.  They are recognized as a top institution within the Academic world and in March of this year, the American Council on Education gave Stevens its “Award for Institutional Transformation,” which recognizes institutions that have responded to higher education challenges in innovative and creative ways and achieved dramatic changes in a relatively brief period.  These successes have translated into increased applications, high post college placement north of 95%, and some of the highest starting salaries for graduates in the country.  
That being said, I am an even bigger fan of Hoboken.   I personally fall into the height-sensitive camp.  I am concerned about the height of the buildings in the Edge Zone, the additional density this will bring to Hoboken and whether or not Hoboken is getting enough back for these accommodations to Stevens.  But I represent the residents of the 2nd Ward and Hoboken when I vote, and sometimes my views are not consistent with yours.  
So on this one, I would like your help to make sure I am representing our community best.  
Thank you in advance for your feedback.
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
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