Thursday, May 17, 2012

MORTe fights to preserve Kelo type eminent domain

Last night, a parallel resolution concerning the City's ability to designate an 'area in need of rehabilitation' was up for consideration as a distinct issue from the Southwest Park.  The importance of moving ahead with the resolution was significant and as important as the park vote.

By designating areas as in need of rehabilitation, the City limits itself from pursuing a Kelo type eminent domain transaction - taking private property from one owner under eminent domain powers and turning it over to another private owner.

In the video clip, Councilwoman Carol Marsh emphasizes State law as being the controlling authority in the resolution governing the City while Councilman Michael Russo attempts to muddy the waters.

Councilman Dave Mello then lays out the full and complete implications of the resolution so it's clear to the audience the City is not seeking Kelo powers and is in fact limiting them in the Southwest by a resolution where the only eminent domain application is "for the public good."

MORTe, shy one member is not happy about this.  The resolution is met with unhappy rejection by Beth Mason, Michael Russo and Tim Occhipinti.

Expect them to be vociferously unhappy when they can't favor their developer friends over other developers.

This is another chink removed from the Hoboken where the connected are disconnected from the old, dark ways.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer's comments last night urging action for a Southwest Park in the City Council

Office of the Mayor announces:

Mayor Zimmer’s remarks on a Southwest Park
City Council Meeting, March 16, 2012

It has been a long road in our fight for a Southwest Park. 

Back in 2006 I was one of several community members for the original Southwest Parks Coalition Steering Committee.

I remember being petrified to speak at my first Council meeting.

My commitment to a Southwest park ultimately led me to run for 4th Ward Council. 

Since that time, the City Council has repeatedly expressed its unanimous support for the creation of a Southwest Park.

Now it is time for all of us to put our money where our mouth is. 

It is time for us to show we mean what we say by finally delivering on the first part of what ultimately could become a large park in Southwest Hoboken.

This could finally be the start of a park that benefits all Hoboken residents and especially the underserved 4th Ward residents.

Expressing support in an election time mailer is easy, but when we make those promises we have an obligation to deliver more than just words---

We have an obligation to deliver the park that we promised. 

I’ve heard several justifications from Council members planning to vote no against tonight’s ordinance. I would like to directly respond to those concerns:

First some Council members may feel that the redevelopment or rehab process is somehow the less expensive way of creating park space because instead of writing a check we can get the park land for free.

Let’s be clear:  Nothing is for free.  A giveback for park land will come with larger densities much generally much more valuable than the direct cost of acquisition. 

Some Council members have said that this land is too small for a park, so why bother acquiring it. 

First, if the City Council designates the area in need of rehab or redevelopment, then you will be in a position to expand the size of the park.

I will work to create a larger park space, but ask you to recognize that even a 1-acre park would benefit the community. Just as the one-acre parks of 1500 Park and Maxwell Place serve Northwest residents, so too would a one-acre park in Southwest Hoboken. 

Finally, 4th Ward residents are just as entitled to adequate park space as residents in other neighborhoods.  The closest dog run is a full 15-20 minute walk away in Church Square Park. 

For those who think Church Square Park is too crowded, enabling Hoboken residents to use a park in their neighborhood would be a huge benefit, and help alleviate the overcrowding.

Finally, some of you have expressed concern with regard to eminent domain.  While I strongly oppose the use of so-called Kelo eminent domain which involves taking property from one owner to another for development purposes, I believe eminent domain for park space truly represents an important public purpose.  

As elected officials we must use the City’s resources as wisely as possible while working to improve the quality of life for all Hoboken residents. If we are truly committed to providing more parks in Hoboken, then the only way to responsibly do this is to use all the tools legally available to the City including eminent domain for park space.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, this Council needs to fully understand that a no vote means risking $3 million in county grant money.

For the last year my Administration has worked with you, and been guided by your votes. Most recently the Council voted 9-0 on March 7th for the City to send offer letters to Block 12 property owners. 

Turning around and asking us to consider completely different properties at the last minute is a mirage the public will see right through. You may want to look like you support a park in the Southwest, but in reality you will be failing to support the first real concrete steps taken to acquire land for a Southwest park.

If you are committed to a Southwest park, if you want to make certain that the City does not lose $3 million in grant money, then I urge you to vote yes.

Thank you. 

Mayor Dawn Zimmer on her way to urge the City Council to support a plan to deliver on a Southwest Park.
That objective is a deeply held, signature issue which brought her into Hoboken's political arena.

Southwest Park dream lives with 7-1 vote on introduction

Fourth ward residents seeking a park of their own in the Southwest came one step closer to seeing it become reality after a big step forward in the City Council's approval on first reading.  Mayor Dawn Zimmer delivered her prepared remarks (above) leading into the introduction of the ordinance on the Southwest Park.  She urged the City Council to support the measure giving the City the tool of eminent domain in obtaining just about an acre of Block 12.  The mayor emphasized this was not the version as in the unpopular "Kelo" Supreme Court case - handing over private property from one owner to another.

This is a signature issue for the mayor, her reason for entering the political arena as a fourth ward candidate.

The vote on introduction was a landslide: 7-1 in favor.  Councilwoman Terry Castellano was not present and only her cousin Councilman Michael Russo voted no.  Three council members voted "Yes on introduction" - Beth Mason, Jen Giattino and Tim Occhipinti.  This is council speak for "I'm not backing this proposal yet but it's going to be evaluated."

Which means the public will have no better opportunity to affect its pressure on the final vote.

In two weeks, Hoboken will face a huge opportunity to change the dynamics of park usage in the City and especially the southwest in the fourth ward.

Talking Ed Note: MSV will be back with more on this important landmark shift for Hoboken.
Yes that is Da Horsey in the City's cameraman's range trying not to hover too long but taking in the sights and sounds while the mayor spoke.  This was a big issue and the mayor was a surprise guest as she normally does not address the City Council.  When she does, it is of major importance such as during the sale of the Hoboken University Medical Center.

This was a big night for Hoboken.