Thursday, April 2, 2020

Councilman Mike DeFusco: "Hoboken Covid-19 Update + more"

Official release:

Good afternoon, I hope you are staying safe through this difficult time. I wanted to quickly update you on a few things happening ahead of tonight’s virtual City Council meeting. 
HOBOKEN COVID-19 INFORMATION
Most of us have been working from home for the better part of three weeks now and it certainly can be difficult at times, but the stats are there to prove practicing social distancing is working.

Here are few reminders of the regulations put in place in Hoboken to lessen the spread of COVID-19: 
  • Many of Hoboken’s restaurants are still open for takeout or delivery. Small businesses are what make our community special, so please if you can support our local shops.
  • This past weekend, the Mayor ordered the closure of all city parks. Remember, if you’re walking your dog or out for a quick walk/jog/run (this is permitted), keep at least a six feet distance between you and others and try to utilize streets that have fewer people. 
  • If you have found yourself in a difficult financial situation, the Hoboken Community Center is distributing food. You can donate here.
  • New Jersey has set up a portal to answer all of your COVID-19 questions from filing for unemployment to mortgage assistance. You can access that here.
PROPOSING NEW COVID-19 PARKING REGULATIONS
 
Hoboken has suspended street cleaning regulations through at least the end of this week in light of the rapidly spreading global health crisis, but parking meter rules have remained in place. At the last City Council meeting, we passed a resolution asking the administration to explore our option to suspend meter enforcement. Unfortunately, we were advised by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) via the administration, that non-enforcement of meters would create a public safety hazard.

I respect the discretion of the OEM that has been working around the clock to keep us safe, but it’s time we revisit this issue. 
Empty parking spaces on River Street since social distancing regulations were put into place
At tonight’s City Council meeting, I’ll be introducing a resolution that outlines a plan that would create designated parking spaces throughout the city specifically to be used for pickups at local restaurants and essential businesses.

Our restaurants and mom and pop shops need our help now more than ever, and on the legislative level we need to be doing all that we can to help drive business to them. Residents should not be worrying about getting a ticket for a stop of less than five minutes to shop local. This resolution will again request that we suspend metered parking throughout Hoboken with the exception of Washington Street, primarily to protect our Parking Enforcement Officers. 

I'm further proposing that the City allow employees of Hoboken University Medical Center to park for free, or at a very minimal cost, in the Midtown Garage. With social distancing guidelines in place and fewer transit options available, more people are using their own vehicles to get to work. These are the men and women on the frontline of the pandemic who are putting in long hours to protect our health and they should not be worried about additional out of pocket expenses or ending their shift with a parking ticket.

I understand Hoboken is already collecting about 75% less in revenue from parking because of the pandemic, but our priority needs to be on keeping residents and employees alike safe. I’ve been contacted by countless residents who have been receiving parking tickets for reasons other than safety violations. I think this resolution is a fair compromise and is in line with 
what some of our neighboring municipalities are enforcing. I’m hopeful we can meet in the middle to put a fair parking policy in place through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

SENDING WELL WISHES TO OUR SENIORS
 
I’ve organized a card drive to send notes of encouragement and positive thoughts to our seniors citizens in Hoboken. In times like this, many of us may be feeling alone, so let’s come together and remind our seniors they are not forgotten and we are all thinking about them. 

You can fill out the Google Form here and I’ll email you the names and addresses of individuals to send cards to. A big shout out to my friend Councilman James Solomon in Jersey City for leading this effort in his community. 
My neighbors Vincent and Nicholas have already made these cards to send to our seniors. 

BRINGING BACK OUR YOUTH ADVISORY COUNCIL 
 
During my swearing in back in January, my nieces Lucia and Aurelia were so excited to get a tour of City Hall and see what I do on the City Council. It was clear to me that there must be countless kids throughout Hoboken who would love the opportunity to learn more about what we do in local government.

That’s why I’ll be introducing amendments to a current ordinance that will bring back our Youth Advisory Council. With everything happening in the world around us, there’s no more perfect time to begin the process of allowing Hoboken’s youngest residents to be included in our conversations and teach them the importance of working together to build a better community.

The ordinance will allow each Council member, the Council President and Mayor to appoint kids in grade 6 through 12 to the Advisory Council. From there, our youth will meet once a month to discuss their own policies that will give children and teens a voice in the decisions we are making in Hoboken.

I think this a great opportunity for all of us and I’m looking forward to seeing our youth advisory council come back after we conquer the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A NEW STUDENT CENTER AT STEVENS INSTITUTE 
 
Last month I had the opportunity to tour the construction site that will soon be home to Stevens Institute of Technology's new student center and dormitory complex.

As the Chairman of the City’s Zoning Committee, it was important for me that we develop a master plan that helps the school grow sensibly. The limited number of on campus student housing units has been a challenge for years and the new buildings are going to help address those issues.
As I’ve long said, the success of Stevens is the success of Hoboken. Being partners in this expansion is going to create a campus that works to grow innovation culture in Hoboken and it’s incredible to see this vision become a reality. I'm looking forward to seeing the completion of this project in the 2022-23 school year.

Should you have any concerns, please feel free to reach out to me directly on my cell: 646.372.4341 or via email: mike@mikedefusco.com
Your Councilman,
Mike DeFusco
Hoboken City Councilman

 
P.S. Thank you to Hoboken resident Jason Innella for donating thousands of medical-grade alcohol wipes right before the COVID-19 virus began to spread in our community. Before self-isolation restrictions were imposed, I was able to bring these to many of my neighbors in Marineview Plaza -- home to seniors, young families, teachers and first responders -- to help keep them safe.