Stating that the upcoming $241 million Hoboken school referendum “is a huge miss at an opportunity” for the city and board of education to collaborate, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos reveals that he’ll vote no next week.
“My view is that the plan as proposed is a huge miss at an opportunity for the City of Hoboken and the Hoboken Board of Education to work collaboratively to meet both our educational and community needs,” Ramos said in an email blast.
“In 2018, I made such an attempt to try and have a school incorporated within the Southwest Redevelopment Plan. The cost of the school construction would have been in the $35 to $40 million dollar range and would have been built adjacent to the Southwest Park Expansion.”
Ramos indicated that himself, Mayor Ravi Bhalla, and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Johnson held met with representatives from Academy Bus in 2018 before Bhalla came out against the plan in early 2019.
“I have always advocated for school construction as a community giveback in all of our redevelopment plans because having these types of public projects funded by developers can ease the burden on taxpayers. Did the plan have flaws? Absolutely, but this was a starting point and at the time it was a plan well worth exploring,” he continued.
The 4th Ward councilman also said the BOE’s planning process showed a “complete lack of transparency” and that their “take it or leave it” approach to this plan is “completely unacceptable,” noting that Rebuild By Design and park projects in recent memory have all had robust public input.
“Emotions have been extremely high on both sides and that is predominantly due to the lack of transparency and input the public deserves. The 4th ward is home to a large number of students in our educational system and home to the largest share of the high school students,” Ramos noted.
“As their Councilperson and your Councilperson, I want what is best for them and you. And that is why I will be voting NO on January 25th with the hope that we can all work together to find better solutions to build quality schools and facilities that our students and residents deserve.”
Ramos joins 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher in publicly opposing the project, who was the first elected official to come out against it.
Bhalla has come out in favor, with 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle, and Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour also doing so last month in a joint statement.
The referendum is on January 25th and today is the last day to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot by mail.