Despite some recent delays, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla still sounds confident about the roughly $192.5 million municipal complex, telling HCV “there’s no way it’s not gonna happen.”
“Oh 100 percent, it’s gonna get done one way or another. In terms of how, we’re just gonna go through the process and that process of democracy,” he said during an interview at a belated birthday bash fundraiser last night.
“It’s like making sausage: it’s never easy, sometimes it’s messy, but we are 1,000 percent committed to uplifting our city employees: our fire, police, essential workers, people who work on the front lines every day to protect our residents. Those are the people that this complex is gonna benefit, as well as the residents. There’s so much vision and potential behind this project: there’s no way it’s not gonna happen.”
The ambitious project, which was originally going to be a public safety complex, has now expanded to include the department of public works, the municipal court, council chambers, a municipal pool, a library, community center, and more.
The project has stalled since the city council has not voted on the second reading of a related $44 million bond ordinance that passed 5-4 on first reading (the same tally that a measure giving the city the ability to use eminent domain was approved by).
The ordinance hasn’t received a second reading since a bond requires six affirmative votes to pass and 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino have been steadfast that they won’t be changing their votes.
The two-month delay has convinced officials that they need to start planning for a temporary DPW facility, since they must vacate their current site, 256 Observer Highway, by November 2024 as part of the Monarch settlement with Ironstate Development.
Further complicating the matter is the fact that Charles Poggi, the owner of the Poggi Press site at 1501 Adams St., remains staunchly opposed to the city using his property for the site.
Nevertheless, Bhalla seems completely certain the project will happen. He declined to comment on the specifics of how the project would move forward without bonding.
Aside from finishing the municipal complex, the mayor cited completing the Northwest Resiliency Park, building a park at 800 Monroe St., the Western Edge (which is currently in litigation), the Hoboken Rail Yard project, the Neumann Leathers rehab project, and adding open space in the southwest portion of the city as priorities for his second term.
“So there are a lot of pots in the fire, a lot of things going on, and a lot of great things yet to come,” he concluded.