Living in a densely populated city can make finding opportunities for more open space a challenge. However, since taking office, I have made open space a priority on the Council, working with the leadership of Mayor Zimmer and her administration.
I’m incredibly proud to have advocated with Mayor Zimmer for a park in Southwest Hoboken, a long term objective for our team when we ran for office. The park, which opened in September, is New Jersey’s first resiliency park with integrated green infrastructure to mitigate flooding.
I also played a lead role on the Council to advance a redevelopment project with two acres of open space and a public gymnasium at 7th and Jackson, and approved the purchase of six acres of property in Northwest Hoboken for a new resiliency park. While the planning for the Northwest Park gets underway, I approved funding on the Council to install a “pop-up park” to provide amenities our community can enjoy including a playground for children, tennis courts, basketball courts, community garden, and more.
As Mayor, I will continue to make improvements to our parks, ensure the construction of new parks, and actively pursue additional open space, including the following:
- Decide on the design of a new 5 acre Northwest Park through community process, and build out the park with a detention system to withhold at least 1 million gallons of rainwater to reduce localized flooding.
- Expand the Southwest Park to include at least one extra acre of land adjacent to the current park, to include family friendly features to complement the first phase of the park.
- Explore options to complete Hoboken’s waterfront walkway through the build out of a waterfront park at Union Dry Dock.
- Construct a new park at 16th and Garden Street as a part of the Rebuild by Design process, which will cover the funding for the park creation.
- Work with Hudson County to extend the 14th Street Viaduct Park by creating a new passive park area to its north along a portion of the far western edge.
- Create a park design for the existing ½ acre, City-owned pier located just north of the Monarch Pier at 16th Street that has been identified in the Master Plan for open space.
The City’s Open Space Trust Fund will be used to help finance the buildout of the Northwest and Southwest Park expansion, and other grant opportunities will be sought to provide supplementary funding for park projects. Additionally, at least some resiliency components will be built into all new parks in order to reduce storm-water runoff—a central cause of flooding.
Maintain and Upgrade Existing Parks
Maintenance is always a challenge with heavily used urban parks such as ours, but we need to ensure we are positioned to raise the bar to new heights. As Mayor, I will create a realistic park budget that is sufficient and dedicated to day to day maintenance of our park land and that includes consideration of the long- term, capital improvements needed for our parks, such as irrigation, lighting, pier pilings, plantings, tree replacement, and the like. To commit the necessary resources to our critical assets, I will engage consultants to recommend the appropriate “per acre” park budget and the best methods to oversee the parks, whether it be by the City or its consultant, a future park conservancy, or some combination thereof. This cost analysis is critical for Hoboken to have the best available information and resources for effective park land stewardship.
In addition, to allow the City to make better informed decisions on the amenities that are being proposed for its parks, we’ll ensure a park maintenance cost estimate is provided as part of the scope of work for any future park design and construction contract. Park maintenance and improvements will be addressed in a separate line item from the budget for park recreational programing.
Complete Green Circuit
I will work to complete the Green Circuit—a pathway around the perimeter of the City to connect the existing and future park lands. This circuit is important to meeting the goal of allowing all residents to be able to walk or cycle to the all of Hoboken’s parks. Currently, the Western Edge Redevelopment Plan will bring the Green Circuit from 9th Street to the Viaduct. The future Northern End Plan should assure that the circuit is completed all the way to the north.
An opportunity also exists to open access to the Palisades by creating an urban walking trail. While much of the Palisades is in Jersey City, Hoboken can consider partnering with Jersey City to map the most feasible route of such a trail that can be accessible from different points in Hoboken.
Identify Open Space and Recreational Opportunities in Existing Development
Creative use of existing conditions can provide new opportunities for open space. I will push to implement the Master Plan recommendation to provide active recreational facilities such as basketball, volleyball, tennis courts, etc. on the rooftops of the municipal parking garages on River Street.
We will also review existing, City-owned lands and buildings for incorporating new passive green space opportunities. These types of spaces might also exist along roads and sidewalks. We will explore the concept of a “Greening Stoops” program to provide incentives for residents and businesses to plant their front stoops and sidewalk areas.
To encourage use of our parks, we’ll also examine improved signage, minimize perimeter fencing, improve access, and encourage public programing to under-utilized park areas to emphasize their existence. If park land is being offered as part of a public/private development, we will encourage public access without restrictions.
Expand cultural affairs and programming in parks
With new parkland coming online soon including the Southwest Park, 7th and Jackson, and the Northwest Park, I will expand programs into Western Hoboken, including our Movies Under the Stars, Fitness in the Park, and Art in the Park for children.