Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mayor updates park progress for Southwest, Pino and Henkel in western Hoboken

Office of the Mayor announces:

Timmy Occhipinti has a plan for far more expensive and much smaller pocket parks in Southwest Hoboken.
He hopes people won't distinguish those from the continued efforts for far larger and more inexpensive parks
around western Hoboken detailed in a letter from Mayor Zimmer.

Tim Occhipinti issued the following press release Tuesday afternoon:

Over 350 Hoboken Residents Signed The Petition in Just A Few Weeks
(HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY) – At tomorrow night’s Hoboken City Council meeting, 4th Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti will present a petition to Mayor Zimmer and the City Council to turn vacant lots at 1st and Jackson Streets into open space. In just a few weeks, the petition already has over 350 signatures and continues to gain steam.

“In our urban landscape, we need as much open space as possible - especially here in Southwest Hoboken,” said Occhipinti. “I’m sick and tired of those who make open space promises while running for office and then turn their back on our community when it comes time to take action. Hoboken needs less lip service and more leaders committed to creating safe places for our children to play and for all our families to enjoy.”

Councilman Occhipinti believes now is the time to begin the process of acquiring the vacant lot and “Nardine's lot” at 1st and Jackson Street. The next step is to get the Administration to submit a resolution at the next City Council meeting to hire an appraiser to determine fair market value of the properties. These lots are not well-maintained and have received numerous citations from the City. There are three day-care facilities within a few blocks that could utilize new open space.  But since the lots are located in a residential zone, a developer could snap them up for more condos. If that happens Hoboken would lose the opportunity forever of turning them into open space.

Advocating for new open space at these lots does not infringe upon the goal for a large, continuous park in the 4th Ward. This would simply be in addition to the SW6 Plan.  By purchasing these two lots and turning them into green, open space for Southwest Hoboken families, it in no way minimizes the urgent need for a six-acre park in the area.

“Bringing open space to Hoboken's Fourth Ward is long overdue, but sadly doesn’t seem to be a priority even for some who call this neighborhood home.” said Christopher Gizzi, President and Executive Board Member, Hoboken Southwest Parks Coalition. “This petition is the continuation of a critical open space initiative, and I urge all park supporters to sign it. For well over six years, local residents have asked for open space and all the advantages that come with it - including flood mitigation, bike/walk/running/stroller lanes, traffic abatement, and other recreational activities. By turning these vacant lots into open space, we’d begin to see what a true, contiguous, six-acre park will do for Southwest Hoboken residents and families.”

The City has two funding mechanism - the $3 million Hudson County Trust Fund Grant and the $20 million bond authorization by the City Council approved in the spring of 2011. For years, residents have been taxed by both Hudson County and the City for open space - with no new parks added to our neighborhoods. In fact, it was Zimmer herself who fought for this new tax for land acquisitions, which has brought no new open space. The $3 million county grant dedicated to open space in Southwest Hoboken is due to run out this summer. It was extended last summer by request of the Zimmer Administration.

Just like with flooding and potholes, Mayor Zimmer has failed to deliver on her open space promises, time and again.  This is a slap in the face to the families of her home ward, as Zimmer pledged to make open space a priority in both her multiple 4th ward council campaign and her multiple mayoral campaigns. And Zimmer has failed.