Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bhalla Unveils Comprehensive Recreational Facilities Plan

Official release:


Bhalla Unveils Comprehensive Recreational Facilities Plan
Councilman Ravi Bhalla, candidate for Mayor of Hoboken, today unveiled his Comprehensive Recreational Facilities Plan, designed to increase the amount of indoor recreational space and recreational activities in the City
As Mayor, Bhalla will engage residents in a community process that explores a complete renovation of the multi-service center to create a brand new state of the art multi-use recreational facility.  New community space in Northwest Hoboken, the construction of a community pool and indoor skating rink, indoor turf field, and a new teen center are also among the ideas that will be explored.  He will also examine the feasibility of Hoboken offering a summer day camp as some other cities do successfully. 
Ravi Bhalla said, “Recreational activities enhance the quality of life for our families raising children and all of our residents. Today, our indoor recreational space is in need of major upgrades and too small to meet a growing demand.   As Mayor, I will bring the same commitment I have demonstrated on the Council to expanding open space and upgrading our parks to ensuring we create additional indoor multi-use space, enabling us to offer a broader variety of recreational activities and options"
Councilman Jim Doyle, who helped prepare the plan, said, “Recreational activities enrich all of our lives and help create a sense of community.  We especially need more places for our teens to gather and more activities for them. With careful planning and the input of our residents, I know we can get the job done and do it cost-effectively.”
The plan will employ a fiscally responsible approach, using realistic budget estimates and exploring alternative revenues. The City will only commit to what it can afford and projects will be phased-in accordingly.
The complete plan is below:

Ravi Bhalla: Comprehensive Recreational Facilities Plan



Expanding access to recreation spaces

In a square mile City with more families choosing to stay and raise a family, keeping up with the demand for recreation activities is critical.  Over the past eight years, I’ve been a strong partner of Mayor Zimmer in her efforts to acquire and create more open space.  Now, it is important to prioritize exploring the upgrading and addition of multi-use space to meet our recreation demands.  


 

Creation of Comprehensive Recreation Facilities Plan


As Mayor, one of my top priorities will be to immediately engage residents in a community process to create a new, comprehensive recreation facilities plan. The recreation plan will examine the expansion and addition of multi-service facilities in Hoboken.  This could include the locations of the current multi-service center on Grand Street, the parcel of land adjacent to the Northwest Park, and the location of the former Hoboken YMCA on Washington Street, among others.

I am eager for residents of all ages to enjoy access to more recreation space while we continue on the fiscally responsible path that we have taken over the past eight years.  The comprehensive recreation plan will examine budget estimates and potential alternative revenue sources, all of which will be thoroughly vetted and presented to the public.  

Creating more multi-use recreation space at the multi-service center, former YMCA, and new facility in Northwest Hoboken



Multi-service Center



Hoboken’s Multi-service Center, located at Grand Street between 2nd and 1st Streets, is in use at all hours of the day and is unable to meet the growing demand of recreational activities.  As our community continues to grow, our comprehensive recreation plan will examine the development of a new, state-of-the-art multi-service center to replace the current structure.
 Students from Stevens Institute of Technology recently completed a research project that provides a blueprint for a new multi-service center.  Their analysis showed that if a new multi-service center were built to cover the entire current footprint of the parcel with a six-story building, it could more than triple the amount of recreation space currently available at that facility.


Former YMCA Facility



Our former Hoboken YMCA at 13th and Washington Street was a destination for families in Hoboken for generations, and the comprehensive recreation plan will explore the feasibility of a potential partnership with the city and the YMCA Board, so the facility can be renovated and once again become a multi-use facility for our community. 


Multi-use facility at Northwest Park 



In Northwest Hoboken, I have been a leading proponent of adding a facility to the 6 acre parcel of land the City has acquired for a public park.  I believe there is the potential of having this additional facility become not just a parking garage, but also a new building that could include multi-use space for residents of all ages to enjoy, which will be examined by the comprehensive recreation plan.



Together, these new facilities – the Multi-Service Center, the former YMCA, and the Multi-use space adjacent to the Northwest Park -- could provide great new space for recreational activities, including:

    

    * A new teen center: which is a common request I’ve heard from many parents.  With more families staying in Hoboken, we are facing a growing need for more after school space for our teen population


    * Renovated meeting space with state of the art technology and resources to host our growing senior population during the day, and be a facility for public meetings so we are less reliant on the existing Multi-Service Center space and City Hall


    * Space for the Hoboken Library to expand, including an additional location with additional computer access and educational programming 


    * City-run pool: Our City could finally accommodate the space for a community swimming pool that our City would own and operate. 


    * Ice skating rink: The Multi-Service Center could be engineered to host an ice skating rink, which would include opportunities for ice hockey and open ice skating.


Our new recreation spaces could be prioritized to add more alternatives including swimming, ice hockey, ice skating, martial arts, dance, and gymnastics, as well as indoor soccer, lacrosse, and other typically warm-weather sports.  Your recommendations and ideas through an open community process will be vital in determining what uses get prioritized for these potential new spaces.

Creation of City-run summer camp for kids

As someone with two young children, I understand the challenges of finding dependable and affordable summer camp options.  With the creation of new multi-service space, I believe we have an opportunity for the City to host a summer camp that would be a more affordable option than many currently available for parents. The City is currently not able to offer this service because of limited recreation space, but the additional facilities could facilitate the resources to make this necessary investment a reality.