Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla went on offense over the stalled municipal complex plan last week, prompting 1501 Adams St. owner Charles Poggi to say he “mischaracterized” the ongoing negotiations.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“As residents may know, my administration is committed to following through on a new municipal complex and recreation center in our North End. We are continuing to negotiate in good faith with the property owner, Charles Poggi, and his team through open dialogue and communication,” Bhalla said in a nearly 1,700-word Nixle alert released about an hour before Wednesday’s council meeting.
“While utilizing eminent domain to acquire the property remains an option, I am hopeful for an amicable resolution, so we can build the new complex and recreation center in partnership with Mr. Poggi. I want to sincerely thank Mr. Poggi and his team for their efforts to this end, including the access agreement on tonight’s Council agenda signed by him and myself.”
While Bhalla goes on to criticize Council members Mike DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher, Ruben Ramos, and Jen Giattino at length for refusing to approve a $44 million bond forward to begin building the complex (six votes are required), Poggi responded to the portion about him.
“In his comments the mayor mischaracterized the tenor of ‘negotiations’ between the city and Mr. Poggi and his attorneys Mayor Bhalla said that an access agreement was reached between the city and Mr. Poggi. This is not the milestone event that the mayor is portraying it to be,” Thom Ammirato, a spokesman for Poggi, said in a statement.
“Under the state’s eminent domain law, owners of condemned property must give access to government officials to inspect the property and conduct environmental testing. Access to condemned property is mandated by state law … Mr. Poggi remains vehemently opposed to the government taking of his property.”
While the council approved the ability to use eminent domain on the property earlier this year by a vote of 5-4, with the aforementioned council members voting no (and the same vote tally on the first reading of the bond), the project is going nowhere fast.
As part of the city’s settlement with Ironstate Development, they must move their Department of Public Works, currently at 256 Observer Highway, by November 2024.
The municipal complex would house DPW, along with the police and fire departments, office of emergency management, the volunteer ambulance corps, municipal court, council chambers, and more, but officials recently acknowledged a temporary DPW facility may be necessary.
” … The City may very well end up having to utilize other City property, such as at the North Lot (adjacent to the Northwest Resiliency Park), 201 Marshall Street, the Monarch site, or other public land for the construction of a temporary garage and other DPW operations,” Bhalla also said in the Nixle alert.
“This temporary garage could cost over $1 million to construct at one or multiple of those sites, which would come at the taxpayer’s expense. A temporary garage at the North Lot would also result in the City losing parking revenue as the lot has customers in it, which would further impact a source of current revenue.”
He continued that the current situation is “unacceptable” for residents and that none of the dissenting council members have provided a viable alternative.
Ramos, who along with Giattino has accused the administration of horse trading to persuade them to change their votes on the bond ordinance, has been the most outspoken against the project, telling HCV in March that “this might be the worst urban planning in the history of urban planning.”