Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mayor extends thanks to residents supporting a park in the Southwest


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. 

Next Steps:
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.

Mayor Zimmer

Tim Occhipinti unplugged: "NO" on Southwest Park

Here's the unedited, complete remarks of Tim Occhipinti who occupies the fourth ward seat commenting on the ordinance before the City Council last night for a Southwest Park giving the City powers of eminent domain in additional negotiations with the owner of Block 12.

Does it sound to you like he's speaking from the public's side of the mic?  His prepared remarks attacking the mayor for her not delivering on a six acre park over "five years" is remarkable.  One obvious reason being that Mayor Zimmer has held the office for under three years.

Occhipinti says of a Southwest Park, "land can be acquired with proper negotiations." Whatever that means.

Talking Ed Note: With all the deflecting going on here, you would think Tim Occhipinti has no vote on the matter of a Southwest Park AT HAND!

Are you buying what Tim Occhipinti is selling?  The developer who wants to use the existing parking lot across the street most certainly is.

MSV called it perfectly.  A cursory review of Tim Occhipinti's short history on the City Council shows he ALWAYS sides with developers against the interests of the City, be it NJ Transit, the Rockefeller Group, or in this case a developer contributor who wants the space the City targeted to stay a parking lot for its customers.

Related: Some readers have submitted articles they believe are related to the current owner of the surface parking lot including this one from the NY Times but MSV has not confirmed it:

The NY Times again, this time mentioning Hoboken:

Post Mortem: After the vote and brief recess many people stood outside council chambers speaking.  MSV spoke with one group who spoke on the ordinance including Perry Belfiore and Dennis Shah.  Belfiore said he heard there was a large mortgage on the property in the neighborhood of $10 million but could not confirm it.  A man standing next to Belfiore was often the "one hand clapping" during remarks opposing the ordinance.  Not knowing his relation to the property a question was posed on any known mortgage.  To the question the man began screaming and cursing for about two minutes saying it was none of our business adding, "Go F*(& yourself.  Cram (your camera) up your #&^ and he wanted MSV to give him $10 million.  He paced back and forth menacingly cursing the whole while.  He was told it was a question, he didn't need to answer and he could do likewise.

The unknown man continued complaining and yelling curses continuously and then blurted out he wanted a name.  Matt Calicchio then loudly yelled MSV's name and followed by offering our home address to the unknown man adding repeatedly, "Sue him."

Councilwoman Beth Mason should teach her employee some manners.