Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hoboken prepares move toward new park purchase of Cognis Henkel site

A resolution passed at Monday night's City Council meeting authorizing an appraisal and offer* for the west side Henkel Cognis site at 11th and Madison St. puts a bulls eye on the property for open space and public use.

BASF, the chemical company is currently remediating the site aiming to making a deal with the City to develop part of the six acres in exchange for making an offer on another select portion.

The City's purchase offer makes public the City's clearest intention to acquire the entire property. The City Council voted 7-1 to approve the purchase offer with Councilman Dave Mello arriving just after the early vote.

Councilwoman Terry Castellano voiced concern seeing the writing on the wall announcing she would not support the City's intention to obtain the BASF property in an eminent domain purchase.

The Council however went ahead approving the resolution seeking to obtain an independent appraisal and making a formal offer to BASF. An earlier request from BASF to provide its own appraisal of the six acre property has not been forthcoming.

Previous conversations between the City and BASF did not close the door to the property being sold but BASF opted to initially perform a required remediation on the former industrial site before any additional dialog. It's clear the two sides have strong if not intractable differences.

The resolution's passage indicates the City of Hoboken enters a serious phase seeking to acquire the six acres for the public's open space use.

City Council President Jen Giattino remarked this is the last, best opportunity for the City of Hoboken to obtain multiple acres of contiguous open space.

A City of Hoboken 2010 map identified areas for reexamination in a Mayor Zimmer Administration Open Space Plan.
The serious intent of acquiring open space for Hoboken's 52,000 residents enters a critical phase 
under the mayor in the two year effort surrounding the BASF Henkel Cognis site at 11th and Madison in west Hoboken.

Talking Ed Note: The City of Hoboken is underway building the new Southwest Park but the resolution seeking an independent appraisal on the BASF Henkel Cognis site at 11th and Madison St. is the most aggressive open space park action since Mayor Zimmer completed Pier C park.

Hoboken has earmarked $23 million for the purchase of open space/parks and those funds will be largely pointed to acquiring the six acres on the west side of upper Hoboken. It's affordable in an eminent domain purchase.

Both sides are clearly slated for a clash. The City of Hoboken acquired the approximately one acre surface parking lot in Southwest Hoboken in an eminent domain purchase approved in Hudson County Superior Court.

Correction: The City Council resolution authorizes both an appraisal and offer for the BASF property.