Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Hoboken Council members tear into "No Show" Ravi Bhalla and his failed attempt to ram through Railyard Plan with Stronger Foundations PAC

After Mayor Ravi Bhalla's retreated on his efforts to shovel through the Railyard Redevelopment plan late yesterday, a series of official releases have followed from the City Council.

Official release: Councilman Peter Cunningham

Councilman Cunningham: Bhalla, Russo Attempted to Rush Railyard Development to Appease Union Political Donors 


At the October 2 City Council meeting, the administration had requested a vote to approve amendments to the Hoboken Yards Redevelopment Plan, which include the construction of two 300+ feet buildings and improvements to Warrington Plaza. Seeing that the Mayor had not sought community input on the project and failed to produce traffic and feasibility studies, the City Council voted to table the matter until a citywide public hearing could be held so all residents could be afforded the opportunity to have their voices heard and ask questions about the redevelopment plan. 
At last night’s community meeting, residents expressed a great deal of concern about the magnitude of this project. Instead of coming out to listen to his constituents and presenting his reasoning for the amendments, Mayor Bhalla chose to continue spreading misinformation on Nixle about the project while taking credit for a delayed vote that was in fact already done by Council President Jen Giattino. 
“Mayor Bhalla has purposely continued to misrepresent the size and scale of this project to Hoboken residents for his own political gain,” said Councilman Peter Cunningham. “The administration has failed to follow the proper redevelopment amendment protocols to weigh how this could potentially negatively impact our existing community. With Councilman Michael Russo’s support to rush through this approval process, it has become abundantly clear that the two are only concerned about appeasing their union donors and protecting their own campaign contributions. This is the largest redevelopment project in Hoboken’s history and we cannot afford to let politics influence the decisions that will affect our city for decades to come.” 

Official release: Council President Jen Giattino

Council President Jen Giattino Delays Vote on Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan to Address Residents’ Concerns 
At the City Council meeting two weeks ago, a vote was delayed on amendments to the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan until residents had the opportunity to express any concerns about the project in a public forum. Within days, the administration announced a community meeting to discuss the plan just one day before the City Council was being asked to again vote on the largest redevelopment project in Hoboken’s history. 
Council President Jen Giattino immediately recognized that less than 24 hours was not nearly enough time for Council members to consider residents’ feedback and make an informed decision about the future of the project. Last week, Council President Giattino asked for the vote to be postponed and carried over to next month’s meeting. 
“As elected representatives of Hoboken, it is our responsibility to listen to the concerns of residents and always vote on policies that are in the best interest of our city,” said Council President Jen Giattino. “When we ask for community feedback, we need time to digest the responses we receive to properly address the issues that are presented to us. One day, just 24 hours, is simply not enough time. It’s unfortunate Mayor Bhalla did not personally field the concerns of Hoboken residents after having asked us to approve a massive redevelopment plan. I’m happy to see the Mayor support the proactive decision made by myself, with the support of several of my colleagues, to suspend a vote until we further review the project with input from the community.” 

Official release: Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher

Councilwoman Fisher Thanks Residents for Attending Community Meeting on Hoboken Railyard, Questions Mayor’s Absence

Last night, over 100 residents and the entire City Council attended a community meeting to share their feedback about the long discussed Hoboken Yard Redevelopment project. During the meeting, the project’s developer, LCOR, and other stakeholders presented residents with an overview of the plan and how it will affect Hoboken in the future. Conspicuously absent, however, was Mayor Ravi Bhalla. 

Before presentations began, Council President Jen Giattino expressed she would not hold a vote on the project at tonight’s City Council meeting to allow for further review, but immediately after the meeting ended, the administration sent out a Nixle alert taking credit for the postponed vote. 

During the meeting, neighbors raised a number of questions about traffic and parking, the environmental impacts of the building and the extent of future development. Brian Barry, of LCOR, presented their plan and gave important context to it. A representative from Maser Engineering gave some color on the traffic study they conducted, but failed to elaborate on exact findings. 

“I am glad that Council President Jen Giattino’s plan to have the resolution tabled is what will happen. We said from the start that 24 hours would not be enough time to receive resident feedback on this important legislation that will affect existing Hoboken residents, business owners, and municipal services,” said Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher. “I think last night’s meeting was extremely constructive, because so many people with differing opinions came together, and we all came out a little more knowledgeable. I was disappointed Mayor Bhalla did not attend the meeting to hear directly from his constituents, but I am glad we did right by the residents of Hoboken in ensuring no decision will be made tonight. I am open to hosting another public forum before a vote takes place. I can promise to be there, and hope that Mayor Bhalla can make time to attend, as well.”


Official release: Councilman Mike DeFusco

Councilman DeFusco Steps Up to Lead Community Conversation About Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan in Mayor’s Absence 
While the administration touted a public discussion about the proposed amendments to the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan, Mayor Ravi Bhalla failed to attend last night’s community meeting to listen to residents voice their concerns and ask questions about the project. In his absence, Councilman Mike DeFusco, who chairs the City’s Council’s Southern Development Subcommittee, fielded questions from close to 100 residents about the plan alongside the developers and other stakeholders in the project. 
“Last night, Mayor Bhalla failed to deliver on his promise to hear the concerns of residents about a redevelopment plan that could forever alter downtown Hoboken and our entire city,” said Councilman Mike DeFusco. “The Mayor’s absence from this critical community meeting, one that was scheduled by his own office, further shows he is continuing to hide behind our emergency alert system to communicate with residents instead of meeting with them face to face. Given the growing concern about additional traffic in our neighborhood, it is important for us to make traffic and feasibility studies available for everyone to review before a second vote is held by the City Council. I remain committed to a responsible redevelopment plan in southern Hoboken and I’m confident that once the appropriate documents and information are made public, we can move a plan forward by years end. 
Councilman DeFusco supports the Council President’s decision to postpone a vote on the project until the feedback received last night can be reviewed.