The City of Hoboken is planning to use eminent domain on a vacant lot commonly referred to as Lot 10 in order to expand the Southwest Resiliency Park in the 4th Ward.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“[This] is an important milestone for Hoboken as we move forward with the acquisition of Block 10 to expand our Southwest Park. This additional acre of land, which currently sits as a vacant lot, will provide much needed open space for our residents without any compromise of added residential density,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a statement.
“Not only will the expanded park provide important quality of life upgrades for our community, it will also include infrastructure to further address flooding in the region. I look forward to working with our residents through a public process to design the expanded park. Thank you to Mayor Zimmer and the many community members who helped advocate for this successful park expansion!”
Back in February 2017, the city council voted unanimously to execute eminent domain on the Southwest Park property that was owned by Academy Bus.
When the parked opened in September of that year, officials hosted two separate ribbon cuttings for the open space, with some expressing that a mid-day ribbon cutting during the week was inconvenient for families.
“Academy has always been pushing for an extensive amount of development. We worked really hard on having a redevelopment plan that balances development and open space … [eminent domain] is a last resort but it’s important to move forward with it,” Zimmer told HCV over the phone.
“I’m really thrilled to see it moving forward … we as a city have worked to try to acquire this, now when you can’t acquire it through good faith negotiations, this tool allows us to acquire the land in court.”
The city has attempted to acquire the Block 10 property since then, though they claim Academy has demanded a development deal inconsistent with the City’s Master Plan and the Southwest Redevelopment Plan unanimously approved by the council in 2017.
According to city officials, the overdevelopment demanded by Academy would massively increase residential density and badly exacerbate the already unacceptable traffic problems in the area.
As a result, the use of eminent domain has become necessary to acquire the property so that the Southwest Park can be expanded to address the neighborhood’s open space and flood resiliency needs – as well as not infringing on the currently permitted residential residency.
The $5.3 million deposit will be fully paid for utilizing a $1 million grant from Hudson County’s Open Space Trust Fund, the city’s Open Space Trust Fund, and $900,000 from the New Jersey Green Acres funding.
No tax increase will be required to fund the $5.3 million deposit needed to acquire title to the property. The final purchase price, reflecting fair market value, will be determined through a legal process provided for by state law.
The current Southwest Park has an underground detention system to withhold up to 200,000 gallons of rain to mitigate localized flooding during storms.
In addition, the newly opened park at 7th and Jackson has the capacity to withhold up to 450,000 gallons of rainwater, and the future Northwest Resiliency Park will have the ability to store up to 2 million gallons of rainwater to mitigate localized flooding.
In the coming months, the city will begin a public process to solicit input from the community for the amenities to be included in the expanded park.
Academy Bus did not return an email seeking comment Friday afternoon.