Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: Notes from around the town

From the desk of Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher:

Dear friends and neighbors – 

So much has gone on recently and we have so much ahead that I wanted to connect with you on a few topics.  First - two upcoming events that I hope you will come to:
   Wednesday 9-1030 am – “Coffee with a Cop” 2nd ward version, at La Isla uptown (12th and Shipyard Lane).  I will be there having breakfast at 830 if you care to join me!  Police Chief Ken Ferrante and Mayor Zimmer will join at 9 along with members of the Hoboken Police Department.  
   Thursday 6-8pm - Board of Education Kick-Off Meet and Greet at Ganache Café (1500 Hudson St.) Join me, Councilpersons Bhalla, Cunningham, Doyle, and Giattino to meet the Forward Together (1-2-4) slate of Jen Evans, Sheillah Dallara and Irene Sobolov.  

So now the few topics…

Why the upcoming Hoboken Board of Education race is important to you – After campaigning last year for my first time, I have an incredible appreciation for the political process and how necessary it is for people to vote – especially in our local elections.  Your vote will neve matter more.  That being said, the Board of Ed race is one that too many people opt out of because they feel it does not impact them.  Here is why it should matter to you:  At the center of any strong community lies a strong public school.  Your home values are tied to the strength of our public schools.  Forty percent of your property taxes are determined by the Board of Education of our public schools.  The quality of education provided to your children in our public schools is the result of decisions made by the Board of Education.  Maximum education choices for your children are tied to having strong public schools.  
As a non-parent, I listed the reasons above in the order that resonates with me, but I recognize many reading this are parents making decisions about their children’s education, so their order may be different.  The point I am trying to make (without offending anyone) is that the Board of Education election IMPACTS EVERYONE in our community in many different ways.  

There are six candidates across two slates vying for 3 open seats.  I am supporting, and I hope you join me, the Forward Together Hoboken slate of Jennifer Evans, Sheillah Dallara and Irene Sobolov – 1, 2&4 on the ballot -  Jen and Irene are both incumbents and have been behind the significant progress we have seen in our public schools over the last several years including, to name a few, the introduction of fiscal discipline which shifted dollars from administrative jobs to hiring more experienced teachers; an expansion of the amazing relationship and STEM programs with Stevens Institute; and the hiring of our amazing Superintendent Christine Johnson.  I met with Christine two weeks ago over sandwiches from Fiore’s and all I can say is thank you to this Board of Ed for bringing her to our community.  

I met Sheillah last year when she ran for the Board of Ed and got to know her as we cross-campaigned for each other.  On election night, to no-one’s surprise, Sheillah and her slate took the top three slots from the results of the polls, however they lost two of these seats – including Sheillah’s – after the mail-in-ballots were counted an hour later*.  Sheillah is a tireless advocate for children and families and volunteers a significant amount of her time with the Parent Teacher’s Organization at Wallace, recently as the Special Needs Chair, and as the events planner for the Hoboken Family Alliance.  Her demonstrated commitment to and experience working with our schools and community combined with her background in financial audit are why I am supportive of her for our Board of Education.  

I am not alone in my support – my council colleagues Ravi Bhalla, Peter Cunningham, Jim Doyle and Jen Giattino are all supporting these candidates as well.  Please join us Thursday, from 6 – 8, at Ganache at 1500 Hudson for the kick-off meet and greet fundraiser for Forward Together Hoboken.  And if you can’t make Thursday, then please join us the following week on Friday at the home of Tom Kluepfel, BOE Chair, from 7 – 9 at 626 Bloomfield.  And please VOTE 1-2-4 on 11/8!

500 ft rule – We had a public meeting on 9/26 that was attended by approximately 50 people.  The takeaways from that meeting are that we agreed as a group that the issue is far reaching and complex and that we will spend more time to get this right for our community.   Many of the attendees were restaurant owners with the rest mainly residents (mostly of the 1st and 2nd wards).   The solution we will be looking for is one that will balance the quality of life concerns raised by residents (noise, public drunkenness, etc.), the interests of the community to attract more restaurants into different areas of Hoboken, and the difficulties that small restaurants have indicated they have in opening new restaurants.  It was a very constructive meeting and the ideas provided by those attended were great!  More to come…

5 Acre Park & Municipal Garage coming to Hoboken! (BASF site) – At the City Council meeting tomorrow night, the Council will be voting on the funding to complete the acquisition of the BASF site for use as open space and municipal parking.  I will be supporting this.  The price tag is ~$30 million for just over 6 contiguous acres, 1 to be used for a municipal garage, and the remaining 5 acres to be open space that will be designed with resiliency features and uses that will be determined in a public process over the next few months.  I will keep you posted on when your input is needed!

In a community like ours with limited space, the opportunity to have a contiguous, 5 acre park in the center of our town will never happen again, and the price of land will never be any lower than it is today.  The price tag reflects the current market price for land which is more than double what it was estimated at two years ago.  So the price is high, and we are voting to fund the entire acquisition and design with debt.  

I have heard from many of you your concerns about using debt and bonding so here is some color on why I am ok with this in this instance.  In terms of the funding, to me, debt should be used when rates are low and/or to purchase assets that will provide a community benefit over generations.  In the case of this BASF acquisition, both apply.  The state financing we are getting has very low interest rates, only requires that we pay 81% of the principal back, and will be amortized over a long period of time – so current and future residents who will both share in the benefit of the open space, will also share the cost as well.   Additionally, we have a dedicated Open Space Trust Fund which is specifically structured to acquire open space, and will be used to pay all of the debt service – principal and interest so it will not be paid out of the municipal tax levy.   So if you think Hoboken will benefit from having this open space, like I do, the stars are aligned to make it happen in the best way possible.

And finally…(for now)
Hoboken Train Crash – This was a dark day for our community that ended with a tragic loss of a young Hoboken mother.  I cannot say much more that what you have already heard and read. What I can say is that when I went to the scene at around 1130 am, what I witnessed was an amazing and organized effort by all of the various agencies who have been involved.  Our HPD and HFD led the effort through the chaos of the initial crash, and then were joined by county, state and federal agencies to secure the terminal, secure the area, rescue victims and then focus on restoring services.  My layperson’s observation is that practice made perfect.  And we are so lucky to have all of these resources available to us.  Take a minute to thank Hoboken’s finest when you see them.  Starting tomorrow morning at 9:00 am at La Isla…

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!  Remember, that more voices are always better.

Tiffanie Fisher
Hoboken 2nd Ward City Councilwoman

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