HOBOKEN – Mayor Dawn Zimmer has sent an open letter to residents urging them to voice their support for a measure that could give the city more power to acquire park land in the southwest 4th ward.
The city council will vote on an ordinance Wednesday, June 6 at 7 p.m. that will, if adopted, authorize the use of eminent domain to acquire roughly one-acre of land. The property, currently a parking lot, is owned by Ponte Equities Inc. and is located at Harrison Street and Observer Highway.
If the council does not acquire the parcel in a timely fashion, the city stands to lose a $3 million county open space grant given last year.
"The time has come for your elected officials to deliver on the open space promises we have all made at election time," said Zimmer in the letter.
Zimmer said last month that negotiations with the owner of the property are “very far apart.”
The measure has faced some criticism from Michael Russo, a member of the council minority. Russo was the only member of the council to vote no against the ordinance during first reading last month (Councilwoman Theresa Castellano was absent from the meeting).
The mayor’s letter says:
“Dear Hoboken Residents,
“This Wednesday, June 6th at 7 p.m. is a crucial City Council meeting for everyone who wants more park space in Hoboken. Do you want more space to play in your sports league? Do you think our parks are too crowded? Do you want more space for your child to practice and play sports? Do you want to introduce a new sport to Hoboken? Do you want more open space to just relax, lounge, read a book, and enjoy the outdoors? If you want more park space for any of these reasons, then please read on and let your Council member know your views.
“The New Park Challenge: This Wednesday, the Council will be asked to authorize the potential acquisition of land through negotiation and, if necessary, eminent domain for parks in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Wards (roughly the western half of Hoboken).
“The only way our open space promises can be fulfilled is if we take the tangible steps that are needed to actually fulfill them. This means we need to acquire property before the market makes it unaffordable or development makes it impossible.
“The time has come for your elected officials to deliver on the open space promises we have all made at election time. The City has $23 million (including a $3 million Open Space County grant) to acquire land for open space. On Wednesday, the Council will be voting on a 2nd and final reading to authorize the acquisition of approximately an acre of property in the Southwest. They will also vote on 1st reading to authorize the potential purchase of approximately six acres in the 5th Ward (known as the Henkel/Cognis site, now owned by BASF) and a smaller property in the 3rd Ward (known as the Pino site).
“The $23 million will likely not be sufficient to acquire all of these properties, but the authorization will enable the City to conduct serious negotiations for these properties.
“Council members need to hear directly from residents concerned about this issue. Please take a few moments to email them and/or attend the Council meeting to voice your views.
Council President Bhalla: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President Cunningham (5th Ward): email@example.com
Councilwoman-at-Large Marsh: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilman-at-Large Mello: email@example.com
1st Ward Councilwoman Castellano: firstname.lastname@example.org
2nd Ward Councilwoman Mason: email@example.com
3rd Ward Councilman Russo: firstname.lastname@example.org
4th Ward Councilman Occhipinti: email@example.com
6th Ward Councilwoman Giattino: firstname.lastname@example.org
“If you want to discuss this directly with me, feel free to stop by my open office hours from 5pm-7pm today, Monday June 4, at my office on the 2nd floor of City Hall. No appointment is necessary.”
For more, read our full story here. -Stephen LaMarca