Our mayor's remarks expressing concern about the safety of children during the morning rush hour, reflexively echoed by Councilman Hudock, came as a relatively pleasant surprise. Sure, he's trying to pack four years worth of civic concern for the plight of children navigating this scatter-gun construction site of a city into the final weeks of his re-election campaign. But it's better than nothing. Makes you wonder if we should look into having two elections a year to see if we can keep the administration's eye on the ball.
I for one am glad that Russo and co., have noticed that there's lots of cars in town and some kids too (for argument's sake, let's pretend this phenomenon first emerged two weeks ago, and this isn't just election year politicking!) I'm also relieved to hear that at least the stated position of the administration does not call for reducing the number of kids in favor of more cars. The unstated position does that effectively enough in any event.
I got a taste of the unstated position a week back when I attended a meeting of the planning board at which a variance requiring 100 percent coverage of three west-side lots came up for discussion. Why was 100 percent coverage needed; had the architect even considered adhering to city zoning regulations; why hadn't he? No one asked. Had the architect read and understood the mayor's statements about keeping new families in town -- which a yard-less development several blocks from the nearest park will not tend to accomplish? Not asked. Serious questioning was left up to the public. Reminded me of Richard Pryor's assessment of a court date: "You go down there looking for justice, and that's what you find, "just us"."
The one hold-out on the board was David Roberts who respectfully asked the architect to remember that there was a neighborhood to think of. David Roberts, who has no ideas according to the administration.
Wake up people, requiring developers to remember that they are operating in a neighborhood, not a strip mine, is the most important idea that needs to be put forth in our town. 1) Redo the master plan, 2) Institute minimal-to-zero tolerance for variances.
But let's return to the mayor before the few weeks allotted to displaying concern for pedestrian children ends. On virtually every side street in Hoboken, there's a car or SUV parked up to the corner. This is illegal. It's also the only place to put these cars and therefore not dealt with by the police if the car has a city sticker. Given this circumstance drivers don't stop before the cross-walk, since the view of the intersecting street is blocked by a parked car. This leads to a pattern of drivers gliding through the cross-walks into intersections to get a better vantage point of cross traffic.
Picture gabby 10-year-olds, seniors leaning into a strong Washington St. breeze, joggers in headphones, jockeying cyclists and roller-bladders, cell-phone devotees, Hoboken's gloriously pre-occupied pedestrian milieu.
All at needless risk from motorists treating the middle of an intersection as the place to stop at a stop sign.
Surely this risk which exists 24/7 is one the mayor means to eradicate with all expeditiousness, given his April concern for a risk that lasts but a few hours a day.
Leaders lead. They don't wait for a tragedy. When it comes to traffic in Hoboken we're spinning the chamber, pulling the trigger and congratulating ourselves each time the gun doesn't go off. Recently, Russo boasted of Hoboken's traffic safety record when the issue of corner parking was raised in these pages. Now he is concerned for the welfare of our children. Do yourself a favor, look after the welfare of your loved ones yourself. You know what to do. Show up. Vote.