The Hoboken City Council voted 7-2 to issue a $16.7 million bond to help acquire the a six-acre piece of land owned by BASF – which will eventually be the site of the Northwest Resiliency Park. The measure caused both Hoboken residents and the council to stand divided.
3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo and 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano voted against the measure. 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason was conflicted because she supports the bond ordinance but was against eminent domain.
The construction of the six-acre industrial site, owned by BASF – a large chemical manufacturing producer – will be the eventual home of the Northwest Resiliency Park.
The project will cost $8.6 million for acquisition and an additional $3.3 million for design, engineering & contingency. Also, the Southwest Park construction and contingency is estimated to be $4.8 million.
Eduardo Gonzalez, a candidate for 5th Ward Council, asked for transparency before the council moved on the ordinance.
Tiffanie Fisher, a 2nd Ward Council candidate, referred to it as a “unique opportunity to have one big, giant continuous space.”
Council President Ravi Bhalla also explained that the $20 million cost has not been funded and, therefore, the bond ordinance with NJEIT will be much more cost effective for Hoboken.
Russo and 5th Ward Peter Cunningham challenged each other on the this ordinance.
Russo, who did not support the ordinance, challenged the council once again.
“That’s taxpayer money, that’s funding the tax payer will have to pay over the course of that bond, why are we not considering the taxpayer?”
Cunningham, who supported the ordinance, considered this a historic opportunity for Hoboken.
Directed to Russo’s concern, he said:
“The financing that’s involved in this particular situation is very fiscally approved for the taxpayer. We established an Open Space Trust account, we going to be using NJEIT financing, which was just described earlier as being very cost effective.”
Councilwoman Mason also agreed that the bond ordinance was beneficial to Hoboken but was clearly against eminent domain.
“The legal action on an eminent domain is not insignificant and should not be taking lightly. Taking other people’s property I’ve always been against, so there is conflict in my mind in the sense that I’m going to support the bond and money for it but the question is is the negotiation going to be able to come up with another answer that is not eminent domain.”
Later, Bhalla explained how the terms of the ordinance would still benefit the city of Hoboken.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not going to get better than that.”