After a lengthy presentation and subsequent discussion, the Hoboken City Council voted to move the Southwest Resiliency Park project forward.
A thorough presentation by Hoboken Community Development Director Brandy Forbes and Joseph Maraziti, the founding partner of Short Hills-based Maraziti Falcon LLP, revealed that the expansion of the park will include a bus stop shelter, a dog run, a rain garden, a pop-up market zone, and several other amenities.
Further details included a traffic plan, which would add three new traffic lights that would increase on-street parking and reduce rush hour traffic, as well as the possibility of extending Marshall Street south to connect to Observer Highway.
Additionally, Subareas A,C,D and E would combine to add a total of 392 residential units, 40 of which would be affordable housing units.
During the public portion of the meeting, LaTrenda Ross, a Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner, spoke in favor of the endeavor.
“I’m from the 4th District and I spoke about, a couple months ago, in reference to, in support of Southwestern Park. This is critical to us because in our area we don’t have a park,” expressed Ross.
Greg Dell’Aquila, the owner of the Hoboken Business Center, expressed concern over the fact that the plan includes a proposed $12 million garage that infringes on part of his property.
Furthermore, Academy Bus Vice President of Real Estate David Lehmkuhl reiterated what he said in January when the council approved the ability to use imminent domain on an acre of land owned by the company: that the city has largely kept Academy Bus in the dark regarding this project.
“There has been no meetings, there has been no negotiations, there has been no discussions and I just wanted to make sure that you all were aware of that current situation,” Lehmkuhl told the council.
Council members had a number of questions for Forbes, including Councilman-at-Large David Mello, who stressed keeping the plan flexible in case changes needed to be made later.
2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher questioned if it was realistic to think retailers would come to Subarea A, given that it’s a high traffic area that’s located in a flood zone.
“Do we have any type of real estate analysts, advisors … or a retail expert that can come in and say ‘that location makes sense for retails,'” Fisher asked.
“To that point, that’s why we are encouraging it, but it’s not a requirement: they’re not mandated to have retail to put that retail in there,” Forbes responded.
1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, who announced his mayoral bid on Monday, said Fisher brought up a great point, and felt that the project should be brought back to subcommittee before it was voted on by the council.
“You know, if we’re going to start developing here, bringing more residential, more businesses, where are the cars gonna go? We already have a parking crunch and a place we’re proposing the cars to go – the guy just said the cars can’t go there,” DeFusco stated.
However, his council colleagues rejected that notion given that it was the 1st reading, and the governing body approved the Hoboken Southwest Redevelopment Plan by a vote of 8-0.
Council members James Doyle and Peter Cunningham voted over the phone while 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo was absent.
Last week, Mayor Dawn Zimmer told Hudson County View that the Southwest Park project is expected to be complete this summer.