(ABOVE: Officials break ground on the Resiliency Park at 7th & Jackson—City of Hoboken photo)
To some, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer might seem like the Oprah Winfrey of park space—”You get a park, and you get a park, and you get a park…”
Just a day after breaking ground on a park at 7th & Jackson Sts., the City Council will meet again tonight to discuss its expansion plans for the Southwest Resiliency Park—with an emphasis on the word “Resiliency.”
This proliferation of proposed park spaces serves a purpose—targeting spots hard-hit during Superstorm Sandy, which also see a significant amount of flooding during heavy rain events. As part of the City’s initiatives to fight off Hoboken’s perennial flooding concerns, these parks serve not only as green space for recreation, but also as green sponges for water that would otherwise pool on blacktop and wreak havoc throughout the area.
“All three new parks in western Hoboken are being built as ‘resiliency parks,'” says Mayor Zimmer, “which means they are designed with integrated green infrastructure and underground detention systems to delay and storm stormwater runoff. Combined, the three parks will hold over 1.5 million gallons of stormwater, helping to further alleviate flooding in the most flood-prone areas.”
That’s not to say that the recreational draw in and of itself isn’t a significant bonus.
“We are the only ward in Hoboken without a decent-sized green space,” says Fourth Ward resident Madalina Bud, of the Southwest Resiliency Park Alliance—a grassroots organization that has collected 200+ signatures in favor of the park’s expansion. “Children and families in our neighborhood must travel to other areas in Hoboken to access open space and recreational activities,” adding, “other times we have to go to Newport Green park all the way in Jersey City by cab or walking more than 20 minutes.”
The property in question for the Southwest Resiliency Park is owned by Academy Bus. In an online video posted January 30, that company’s CEO, Francis Tedesco acknowledges the need for a park in that area, but feels Academy deserves better compensation than the proposed $4.5 million on offer from the City.
“We offered up the park because we always knew that this southwest zone needed a park,” says Tedesco. “We’re in the business of making deals, we understand the need and we understand the want,” adding, “we submitted an appraisal, and the value of $13 million is quite fair.”
Academy has also pledged to continue fighting for the land. “This is our family-owned land, and we will not give it up,” says Tedesco.
Furthermore, the company had previously proposed building a 17-story building and a smaller park.
Says Bud, “The residents of Hoboken are against overdevelopment, especially in a bottleneck area where traffic is dense and serves as one of the exit and entry points in Hoboken. Adding another 500 families would create a traffic Armageddon.”
The City has not ruled out exercising eminent domain. Says Mayor Zimmer, “This is a legal tool that ensures the City can purchase the property for a fair price. If the City Council authorizes acquisition by eminent domain [Wednesday] night, we will keep working in good faith, as we have been for the past year, to negotiate a purchase price for the property based on land appraisals.”
The Hoboken City Council meets tonight, February 1st, at 7:00 p.m.