Hoboken officials were all smiles during two separate ribbon cuttings for Southwest Park, the latter being arranged after two councilmen were unable to attend the mayor’s event.
The resiliency park is designed to hold approximately 200,000 gallons of stormwater runoff and includes various gardens and greenery, a phone charging station and a dog run.
On Friday morning, Mayor Dawn Zimmer was joined by a majority of the city council, as well as state and county officials, and thanked everyone who made this project possible.
“This park is really here because of the efforts of so many people, but in particular, because we used all of the tools we needed to acquire this park,” began Zimmer.
” … I want to thank the members of the city council who really understood that we absolutely needed to use all of the tools and vote so that the city could use those tools to acquire this land and make this park a reality.”
Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said the long process, over a decade, it took to open the park, over a decade, reminded him of one of his favorite computer games: Sim City.
“One of the things I remembers about Sim City is when you put the little park in the neighborhood, by changing the zoning and everything, little people would appear and they would all clap,” explained DeGise.
“So I’m thinking of that right now, that all of the people that live in the beautiful buildings around here in this lovely neighborhood: they should be clapping right now.”
North Hudson Sewerage Authority Executive Director Dr. Richard Wolff said the park was a great example of combining green and grey infrastructure.
Then on Saturday afternoon, Councilmen Ruben Ramos and Dave Mello held another ribbon cutting.
They had both previously expressed disappointment for the ribbon cutting not being held in the evening or on the weekend and wanted to host an event where more families could attend.
“We wanted to do a second one just because we wanted the entire neighborhood included in this ‘cuz myself, Councilman Mello, Mayor Zimmer – none of us did this on our own. It was really a neighborhood effort from the beginning,” stated Ramos.
Mello echoed Ramos’ sentiment, also talking about the long history of this project.
“My good friend John Gregorio over there, about a dozen years ago he co-founded a group called the Southwest Parks Coalition where we have been fighting for this park for over 12 years. Friends that have moved out of town were instrumental in this,” Mello said.
“People from all sides of the aisle, all sides of politics were instrumental in making this happen. The county, Freeholder [Anthony] Romano (D-5) getting millions of dollars diverted from one project to this project before we lost that money.”
Mello is seeking re-election on Romano’s mayoral ticket in the November 7th municipal elections.
Other dignitaries in attendance on Friday included Council President Jen Giattino, 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, Councilmen-at-Large Ravi Bhalla and James Doyle, as well as Romano and Gregorio.
Other officials at the Saturday ribbon cutting were Gregorio, Romano, Board of Education Trustee Peter Biancamano and North Hudson Sewerage Authority Commissioner Kurt Gardiner.