The Hoboken City Council will consider the first reading of $84,310,150 bond to acquire a new Department of Public Works site at Wednesday evening’s meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“After months of negotiations with various property owners in the North End and several discussions with the City Council, the bond ordinance would enable the city to complete ongoing negotiations with Jefferson Street Partners for the purchase of their property for a new public works facility provided the council adopts it on second reading,” said city spokeswoman Marilyn Baer.
“While the pursuit of an alternative property did not have the votes of six members of the City Council, Mayor Bhalla thanks Council members Ramos and DeFusco for their support with this approach. Acquisition of the property would enable the City to expeditiously vacate the current Public Works Garage and enable the City to get at least half a million dollars of seed money from Iron State to create a permanent facility, as set forth by the Monarch Settlement.”
She continued that as additional funding becomes available, other amenities and municipal facilities could be phased in via a public process.
According to the ordinance, the majority of the 40-year bond – $80 million – would go towards the rehabilitation, renovation, and reconstruction of the blocks between Madison, Jefferson, 15th, and 16th Streets – a lot currently occupied by Academy Bus.
Additionally, $3.7 million will be earmarked towards completing the Union Dry Dock project – a contiguous waterfront park.
As park of the city’s Monarch settlement with Ironstate Development, they must vacate the current DPW site, 256 Observer Highway, by November 2024.
The administration had been pushing for build a new DPW site at 1501 Adams St., the Poggi Press site, but as Baer noted, the votes on the council were not there to proceed with the bonding measure required to acquire the land.
The municipal complex, which Mayor Ravi Bhalla decisively said would happen in May, would have also potentially included a rooftop garden, swimming pool, headquarters for the police and fire departments – as well as the office of emergency management – municipal court, and council chambers.
While the council voted to allow the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) to acquire the land in July, there has been little said about the project since then, besides property owner Charles Poggi claiming that the city hasn’t taken negotiations seriously.
In a statement released this evening, Poggi said he was glad the city had found another home for their DPW garage, but still expressed dismay about the possibility of his property being taken via eminent domain.
“I am pleased that the city has finally found a permanent home for it DPW garage by working with a willing seller to obtain a suitable site. While the city has concluded negotiations with Jefferson Street Partners – the negotiations between me and the administration have stalled months ago,” he wrote.
“I want to thank the four members of the city council who supported me and my right to develop my property for the past year, however, I am continuing to seek their support as I once again ask the city to release its grip on my property and remove it from the clutches of eminent domain. I made every effort to negotiate in good faith with the city and it has been unproductive.”
4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, who said the proposal “might be the worst urban planning in the history of urban planning” in April, said today he is happy to support this new endeavor.
“We are acquiring a much better site for DPW, which is what I advocated for from the very beginning of this process.”
Joining Ramos in refusing to support the initial proposal at 1501 Adams St. were DeFusco, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino.
The Hoboken City Council meets at City Hall, 94 Washington St., on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and the meeting will also stream live on their Facebook page.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a statement from Poggi Press owner Charles Poggi.