Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla discussed open space projects, climate change, and a potential new public safety headquarters – among other things – during his third annual State of the City Address.
During his roughly 30-minute pre-recorded speech, Bhalla, who ran unopposed in November en route to a second term, talked about moving forward with 10 new acres of open space including the uptown Monarch and Union Dry Dock sites, along with resiliency parks to mitigate flooding.
“As we look to build a stronger Hoboken for future generations, we need to think two steps ahead. And there is no bigger threat to the future of our City, than the threat of climate change and rising sea levels,” the mayor said.
“Climate change is, literally, an existential threat to Hoboken. One recent study ranked Hoboken as the second most likely city in the country to be underwater and uninhabitable at the end of the twenty-first century if we do nothing.”
He also mentioned Cove Park on 15th and Grand Streets, which will expand and upgrade Harborside Park, made possible by the $230 million, federally funding Rebuild by Design project.
For the first time, Bhalla directly spoke in favor of a proposed public safety headquarters, which would house the police and fire departments, along with the office of emergency management and volunteer ambulance core at the Poggi Press site at 1501 Adams St.
The owner of the land, Charles Poggi, has vowed to fight back against the city’s plans and the plan hangs in limbo as the first reading of a $44 million bonding measure was approved 5-4 last month and six affirmative votes are needed on Wednesday for the bond to pass, as HCV first reported.
“Throughout COVID-19, our heroic front line responders, including members of the Hoboken Police Department, Hoboken Fire Department, the Office of Emergency Management, Hoboken’s Volunteer Ambulance Corps, sanitation workers, and countless others, worked tirelessly on behalf of our residents in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable,” Bhalla noted.
“And they did so with public safety facilities that have been literally falling apart beneath their very feet … Let’s be real: our Hoboken Police Department Headquarters is long, long past its useful life, and we’re spending millions of dollars, every year, for emergency repairs on an antiquated facility.”
Additionally, the facility would come with 600 parking spots and include a community center as well as a new uptown library. Last month, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos said he planned on introducing a measure to hire a planner for a new rec center.
“The decision for what the community amenities of this project will ultimately be, is one that will belong to the residents of Hoboken – through a robust, transparent and public process, to seek maximum community input and create a facility that reflects the needs and desires of our residents,” Bhalla added.
On Twitter, former Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante came out in favor of the plan shortly after the Sate of the City ended.
“Outstanding! I support Mayor @RaviBhalla’s plan to develop a public safety complex in North Hoboken. For too long @HobokenPD & @HobokenFire have had to work in dilapidated conditions. To keep up w/ a growing city & changing workforce,our leaders need to see this come to fruition!,” he wrote.
Other topics discussed included Vision Zero, noting zero traffic deaths in four years, the Office of Constituent Affairs worked to replace the 311 system, the Division of Housing creating an expanded inventory of rent-controlled buildings, and Steven Aguiar becoming the new police chief last week.
So incredibly proud of Mayor Bhalla and all he has accomplished in just four short years! The best is yet to come!
His commitment to building a more sustainable city is indeed commendable and his administration has done a great job of leading the City through the pandemic. That said, it would have been great to hear more from him on the school vote, realizing that a survey is still in play. I would have liked to hear something about the pending changes on pay to play and why he felt it necessary to reverse the hard earned gains of his predecessor. The west side project is also a hot button for many – why not acknowledge it in some way?
Given that this was his first address in a couple of years, another half hour on some topics that are less universally popular may have been appropriate. Again – many reasons for a victory lap – but also many reasons to acknowledge places where we may not be fully aligned.