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Monday, December 6, 2010

Mayor Zimmer announces comprehensive parks bonding proposal

Office of the Mayor announces:

MAYOR ZIMMER PROPOSES BONDING TO PURCHASE NEW PARKS

At a community meeting on parks and open space held on Monday evening, Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced her intention to request that the Council approve a bond ordinance for the acquisition of land for the creation of new parks as designated in Hoboken’s Master Plan.

"It is important that we acquire this park space now before we lose any more land to development," said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. "After a year and a half of belt-tightening, gimmick-free budgets, and responsible fiscal management, we are now out of state fiscal supervision and on strong financial footing to make this investment in our City's future. In addition, we are very well positioned to sell the Hoboken University Medical Center, maintain the acute care services currently provided by the hospital, and release the City from its $52 bond guarantee. And now is the time to take advantage of the downturn in the real estate market so we can change our City for the better forever."

The bond funding would go towards purchasing land designated in Hoboken’s Master Plan as park space. The Open Space Trust Fund would go towards funding the cost of the bond.

Mayor Zimmer is calling on the community to get involved in designing new parks by joining the “Friends of Parks” initiative and with a letter-writing campaign to lobby the DEP for expedited permit approvals for the construction of Sinatra Park.

"Our engineer estimates it can take a year or more to get the proper environmental permits from the DEP, but I have met with them and stressed that we need this park open as soon as possible," said Mayor Zimmer. "If our community gets involved and writes letters, I think we can demonstrate the need for an expedited approval process."

Four “Friends of Parks” groups are being launched for residents to help create and program new park space: Friends of 1600 Park & Hoboken Cove, Friends of the Southwest Park, Friends of Sinatra Park, and Friends of Pier A & Pier C.

Residents can email friendsofparks@hobokennj.org to join a group and may email sinatrapark@hobokennj.org or visit http://hobokennj.org/openspace to request information on the letter-writing campaign. Residents can download and customize sample letters to the DEP from the City website.

Mayor Zimmer also provided residents with an update on nearly a dozen ongoing open space projects, including 1600 Park/Hoboken Cove and Sinatra Park. The City is moving forward with the original design for reconstructing Frank Sinatra Park. However, given concerns about the waterfront and Sinatra Drive, the community was asked to provide their feedback on a possible alternative design that rebuilds the field completely on land.

Update on Hoboken’s Open Space Projects

Cost-saving efforts
· The City is close to securing nearly $2 million in funding for Sinatra Park from Hudson County, the Federal Government, and Green Acres.
· The Zimmer Administration saved more than $1.1 million in grant funds that was nearly lost by restarting the stalled process for remediation of 1600 Park and Hoboken Cove.
· The City applied for $200,000 in funding from the US Soccer Foundation for a field at 1600 Park.
· The City applied for remediation grant funding for the park next to the Boys and Girls Club.
· The City applied for soil testing grant funding for the "Project Play" project at Church Square Park.
· A possible alternate design for Sinatra Park would significantly reduce the cost to rebuild the park.

Sinatra Field and Castle Point Park
City engineers have completed geotechnical and ground penetrating radar studies at Frank Sinatra Park and have met with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to review and discuss plans. The Administration is presenting two potential alternative plans for the park and soliciting input from the community. One concept would significantly reduce the time frame and cost to rebuild the park by moving the soccer field completely onto land instead of partially constructing over water.

In parallel with conducting the necessary geotechnical studies, the Administration has been working to secure grants to fund the reconstruction of the park and reduce the cost to taxpayers. Funding cannot be secured retroactively after the park has already been built.

City engineers also recently completed geotechnical studies for the collapsed walkway section of Castle Point Park. Engineers have proposed creating a sheet metal bulkhead around the walkway and filling it in with lightweight concrete. The City engineer is working to acquire the appropriate permits from the DEP.

1600 Park/Hoboken Cove

Environmental cleanup of 1600 Park is complete, and the City is awaiting approval from the DEP that the remediation is satisfactory. Remediation has been contracted out for Hoboken Cove, which includes more extensive remediation than 1600 Park. Concurrent with the environmental remediation of Hoboken Cove, the City will develop designs for both parks. A Request for Proposals which was due by October 13 was issued for a firm to design both properties "as a comprehensive, cohesive park." Proposals were received from 18 firms. The proposals were reviewed internally, and five of the firms were interviewed. The top three firms have been submitted to the Quality of Life subcommittee for consideration.

The design process is expected to be a 4 to 6 month process, including the preparation of bid documents for the construction work. Ideally, construction will begin in Spring 2011 with completion early next fall. Any grass fields that may be constructed may need adequate time for seed/sod to take and therefore may not be immediately usable.

To complete the design and development phase, the City has a $1 million Green Acres grant for Hoboken Cove and $237,000 of Hudson County open space funds is available toward the construction of the boathouse. An additional $1 million Green Acres grant will go to fund 1600 Park, along with a $700,000 Green Acres loan which may be forgivable and approximately $200,000 remaining from a Hudson County open space grant.

Church Square Park
The City has applied for a grant from the EPA to conduct soil testing, and a response is expected in the spring. Working with the City Council, the Administration has held several community meetings to discuss the project. The Administration thanks Project Play for all of their hard work both advocating and fundraising for upgrading the park facilities.

Boys and Girls Club
The Administration is moving forward with plans to replace park equipment at the park adjacent to the Boys and Girls Club. Soil and ground water testing has been completed and submitted to the DEP for review and comment. The City has applied for a grant from the EPA to conduct remediation of the park, and a response is expected in the spring. An application for playground equipment was submitted to KABOOM, and public meetings have been held at the site.

Southwest Park
In August 2009, the City submitted an application for Green Acres funding for acquiring land for a Southwest park. A redevelopment study is ongoing which is expected to be completed at the end of January, and if the area is designated an area if need of redevelopment, a public visioning process will occur to determine which public amenities, such as a park, are desired in the area. Concurrently, the City will continue to pursue grant funding toward the acquisition of portions of the park area. A Subregional Transportation Study of the area is expected to make recommendations about issues including the potential rerouting of Paterson Plank Road, after which the Planning Board and City Council would begin the public process to consider the matter. The Zimmer Administration has been in contact with the Trust for Public Land and accepted their recent offer of assistance to acquire the land.

Henkel/Cognis Site
The Administration, working with the Trust for Public Land, has been in discussions and negotiations for the last year to acquire a large area of land, known as the Henkel site, for a park. The property is owned by Cognis. The City currently has $3 million in funding to acquire the site, and the Administration has applied for additional Green Acres funding. The City was close to an agreement to purchase the site, but because Cognis is now being bought out by another entity, discussions were delayed until the closing of the purchase, scheduled for the end of the year. The Trust for Public Land has been in communication with the company acquiring the Henkel site, and they are very receptive to working with City.

14th Street Viaduct
Thanks to collaboration with Hudson County and a public community process, the replacement of the 14th Street Viaduct will include a beautiful space beneath the structure with a dog run, playground, active recreation court, and multi-purpose space. The Zimmer Administration thanks those involved in the community meetings and the stakeholder process. Plans are available on the city website:
http://www.hobokennj.org/news/design-for-under-bridge-plan-for-14th-street-viaduct

Hoboken Housing Authority field
The Administration has been in ongoing discussions since last year with the Hoboken Housing Authority for a shared services agreement for use of the field. The challenge is the need for funding for returfing the field.

Maxwell Place
The City is in the process of accepting a deed to Block E - the peninsula and pier along the waterfront. The second reading on the ordinance to accept the deed is scheduled to be held on December 15th.

Pier C
The Administration worked to secure approval from the City's insurance company and state inspectors for a partial opening of Pier C. The park was opened to the public on November 12th. Some additional work on the playground areas is required to comply with the state's safety inspection.

Parks and Open Space Meeting tonight with Mayor Zimmer @ 7:00 - LIVE!



If you can't make the public meeting tonight, MSV will be covering it live. It will also be available for viewing online as part of the public record for Hoboken.

During the 7:00-9:00 internet broadcast, please no phone calls, text or email.  Should you have a problem there may be a temporary issue - just reload this page.

MSV is pushing technology limits to do this live!  Enjoy.

Talking Ed Note: Mayor Zimmer spoke to an audience of about 100 residents discussing a multi-faceted approach to a number of areas in Hoboken (the release detailing this is above this story).

In the first 30 seconds there's a little glitch in audio but after that it's cleared up and the broadcast is fine.

After the mayor spoke, various Directors were on hand to answer questions on detailed proposals and plans. A key feature of where things go depends on the public's input and the mayor emphasized that component.

Sinatra Field has two options as engineers are continuing to work through the issues along with the big process of obtaining DEP approval.  One option is to keep the field where it is at higher cost, the other is to move it closer to the road and bring down the costs.

The Hoboken Journal put up some shots of sketches showing each. 

Reminder: Tonight the scheduled discussion on parks and open space

City of Hoboken announces:

REMINDER: MAYOR ZIMMER INVITES RESIDENTS TO COMMUNITY MEETING ON PARKS AND OPEN SPACE

Mayor Dawn Zimmer will host a public meeting on Monday, December 6th to discuss parks and open space issues with the community. The meeting will take place at the first floor gymnasium at the Rue School, 301 Garden Street, from 7pm to 9pm.

Topics will include an update on planning for 1600 Park and Hoboken Cove, the reconstruction of the soccer field at Sinatra Park, and a discussion on other open space issues of concern to the community.

Link: http://www.hobokennj.org/news/reminder-mayor-zimmer-invites-residents-to-community-meeting-on-parks-and-open-space/

Peter Cunningham: Reminders on this week's agenda items

Councilman Peter Cunningham sent out this communication:


I hope that everyone is enjoying the holiday's and getting into the spirit.
To help diversify your holiday shopping activities in Hoboken, please find the time to attend a couple of meetings this week of high importance.
On Monday, December 6th from 7pm to 9pm, the Mayor will host a community meeting to discuss parks and open space issues.  This has been on the agenda for two weeks now, and we certainly hope that you have it scheduled.  There will be important updates on planning 1600 Park and Hoboken Cove, Sinatra Park soccer field reconstruction and a discussion on other open space issues of concern to the community.
The Location is at the Rue Building (301 Garden St, Hoboken) from 7 to 9pm.  http://www.hobokennj.org/news/mayor-zimmer-invites-residents-to-community-meeting-on-parks-and-open-space/

On Wednesday, December 8th and Thursday, December 9th, the City will be holding meetings to discuss Western Edge Redevelopment.  These meetings are structured community workshop meetings to provide additional feedback on the outstanding plans with the intent to modify them in some fashion.  The most recent version of the plan is available on the City website: http://www.hobokennj.org/departments/community-development/redevelopment/.

The two meetings are scheduled to ensure that there's ample opportunity to participate.

The location Wednesday is the Wallace School gymnasium (NOT the Elks Club as originally advertised), 1100 Willow Avenue, and Thursday location is at the Hoboken Public Library, 500 Park Avenue.

Thanks for your attention and please pass this around to friends, family and neighbors.  Please let me know if you have any questions, as I would be glad to help. 
Thanks and shop Hoboken for the Holidays!!
--
Peter Cunningham

ELEC Analysis - it's coming

Talking Ed Note: a story with some analysis of the Fourth Ward Special Election should be completed this week.  Some of the story was posted earlier but is being held now until a more complete story is finished.

Will any local media report on any of it?  That is unless arrests are made?
Not to worry, other than the NJ State Attorney's Office there's nothing to see here.

Hey, I'm with Tim cuz Tim pays me.