OPEN LETTER FROM MAYOR ZIMMER REGARDING SOUTHWEST PARK
Dear Hoboken residents,
Thank you to everyone who voiced their support for more parks in Hoboken through emails, phone calls, and speaking at Wednesday’s Council meeting. A special thank you to those who spoke for the first time at a Council meeting. As a result, the goal of a Southwest Park is within our reach.
Thank you to the City Council for voting for a Southwest Park and for starting the process for potential 3rd and 5th Ward parks. A special thank you to Council President Bhalla, Vice President Cunningham, Councilwoman Giattino, Councilwoman Marsh, and Councilman Mello for their commitment to keeping the open space promises that every single elected official has made to the people of Hoboken.
The surface parking lot in the Southwest, together with adjoining properties, has been identified in Hoboken’s Master Plan as an ideal location for a new park. Together, Hoboken took a tremendous step forward in the process to create the new open space that our community so desperately needs.
As we continue negotiations with the property owner, we now have the tools to make sure the land is purchased at a price that is fair both to the property owner and to the people of Hoboken. Every Council Member reiterated their wish to acquire land, but we all must recognize that it is our fiduciary responsibility to use all the tools available to us to negotiate the best possible agreement.
Some Council members expressed concern that Wednesday’s vote represented an inappropriate “threat” that would make negotiations for land acquisition more difficult. Any experienced negotiator understands that the use of leverage is always a part of the negotiating process. I urge them to consider that we are negotiating in the public interest using funds that belong to the people of Hoboken. Paying a substantially higher price for property because we fail to use the leverage that the law provides would be inconsistent with our responsibility as stewards of the public’s funds.
The next Council meeting on June 20th will also be a very important meeting for expanding open space in Hoboken. There will be a 2nd reading and public hearing on an ordinance that would give my Administration the tools we need to move forward with the process of potentially acquiring new open space in the 3rd and 5th Wards for properties known as the Pino and Cognis/Henkel site, both vacant lots.
In addition, this past Tuesday night, the Planning Board voted to recommend the creation of an Area in Need of Rehabilitation in the Southwest. This tool could enable us to create new zoning that will revitalize the neighborhood and possibly increase the size of the new Southwest Park.
Thanks for listening.