Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla announced today the City of Hoboken filed an eminent domain action to acquire an additional acre of land, known as “Block 10” to double the size of the existing Southwest Resiliency Park. Along with the other required documents, the City will deposit the estimated value of the property, $5.3 million with the court. Immediately upon the court signing the order to authorize this payment, the City will take full legal ownership of the property.
“Today is an important milestone for Hoboken as we move forward with the acquisition of Block 10 to expand our Southwest Park,” said Mayor Bhalla. “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. 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 2011, when my Administration started the process of acquiring the first acre of land for the Southwest Park, we promised the residents of Southwest Hoboken that this was only the beginning of a larger neighborhood park, and that we would never pay for that expansion with overdevelopment,” said former Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “I am thrilled that Mayor Bhalla is moving forward to fulfill that promise. Thank you to the Mayor for rejecting the property owner’s attempt to leverage the City's desire to expand the park into an out of scale traffic generating development deal that would have padded the developer’s pockets at the expense of the quality of life of Hoboken residents.”
The utilization of eminent domain was authorized by the Hoboken City Council in 2017 under Mayor Zimmer. Since that time, the City has attempted to engage in good faith negotiations with Academy Bus, the property owner, in an attempt to acquire the property for a price fair to both Hoboken taxpayers and Academy.
Unfortunately, Academy has demanded a development deal inconsistent with the City's Master Plan and the Southwest Redevelopment Plan unanimously passed by the City Council in 2017. The overdevelopment demanded by Academy would massively increase residential density and badly exacerbate the already unacceptable traffic problems in the area.
As a result of Academy's refusal to negotiate a fair price without an unacceptable increase in the permitted residential development, 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. By completing the acquisition of the Southwest Park in this manner there will be no addition in the currently permitted residential density.
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 State 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.
Mayor Bhalla and the City are committed to including above and below ground green infrastructure in the expanded Southwest Park design to further reduce flooding. 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, Mayor Bhalla and the City will begin a public process to solicit input from the community for the amenities to be included in the expanded park.