Below is an update Mayor Bhalla provided to the City Council regarding various community issues. The full memo with attachments can be found by clicking here.
June 27, 2019
I write to provide you updates on various issues from my office.
New Park Opening at 7th and Jackson
On the agenda for tonight’s special council meeting is a resolution authorizing an amendment to the redevelopment agreement between the City and Monroe Center Hoboken Urban Renewal, LLC, as well as a certificate of completion for the redevelopment of the property which now includes the park, gymnasium and playground at 7th & Jackson Streets. This resolution will allow the City to take ownership of the property and open the 7th & Jackson Park to the public on Saturday, June 29th at 10 a.m. If the resolution is not adopted, the transfer of title to the City and opening of the 7th & Jackson Park will be delayed. Thank you in advance to the Council Members who are able to attend in person or over the phone to the Special City Council meeting tonight at 7 p.m. I am hopeful the resolution passes and look forward to the community joining us to cut the ribbon on this new park this Saturday!
Future of E-scooter sharing program
Also on the agenda for tonight’s Special City Council meeting is an ordinance to place on the ballot, this November, a non-binding, public question as to whether Hoboken should permit e-scooter sharing programs in Hoboken. This is clearly a very polarizing and challenging issue for Hoboken and I think it is important for the Mayor and City Council, to listen to the voices of the public before making such a consequential decision. Placing this is on the ballot in November as a non-binding public question is a democratic means of assessing support for the program and making an educated decision regarding its future.
In the meantime, I am working very closely with the two current operators, Lime and Ojo, the Hoboken Police Department and the Department of Transportation to educate riders about the rules and regulations of the e-scooters. While the pilot program continues over the next five months, the City, the e-scooter companies, and the Hoboken Police Department will continue to meet weekly to improve the scooter program, ensure more responsible riding, and implement enforcement of violations of the rules of operation of e-scooters.
It is my hope that you will agree to give residents a voice and place this question on the ballot.
As you know, the City was successful in having the New Jersey Supreme Court hear its appeal regarding the Monarch litigation. On a parallel track, my administration is exploring options for a settlement with the property owners, and the recent court decision only strengthens our position and terms of a settlement that would prevent the large residential development on our waterfront. It is my hope to place a settlement for consideration at a Special Meeting of the City Council next month.
Union Dry Dock
As I communicated earlier this month, I am moving forward with eminent domain proceedings for Union Dry Dock. Unfortunately, there has not been any movement on a compromise solution with the Governor’s office regarding the property, and I believe this is the only course of action that will preserve the property for a waterfront park. Our appraiser is in the final stages of securing an appraisal of the property. I anticipate having the first reading for eminent domain on the agenda as soon as the appraisal is completed, and will keep you updated as we move forward.
In addition, New York Waterway has filed a meritless claim against the City of Hoboken, seeing to circumvent local land use, zoning and construction approvals required prior to developing Union Dry Dock. The City intends to defend this litigation vigorously, and will be in court on this matter on July 26th.
Earlier this week, I met with representatives from Academy Bus Lines to discuss the City's interest in acquiring Block 10 for the purposes of a public park. My administration is committed to expanding the current park to include the adjacent vacant lot owned by Academy Bus, so southwest Hoboken can also have a large park. We are committed to pursuing amicable terms of acquisition of Block 10 and, as a last resort, filing a condemnation action to obtain title to this property to commence development of the park. At the meeting, Academy also presented a proposal to build out the park "for free" for the City, in exchange for massive overdevelopment with 439 units - 192 more than currently allowed in the approved plan, in the most traffic congested area of Hoboken. As I've communicated in the past, this proposal is a non-starter for me and if terms of acquisition cannot be agreed upon, I am prepared to exercise a condemnation action to acquire the property as authorized by the City Council in 2017. In the interest of transparency, please see the attached recent correspondence between my office and Academy Bus Lines.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have any other questions or concerns.
Very truly yours,
Ravi S. Bhalla