HOBOKEN -- As usual, the political factions for and against Mayor Dawn Zimmer may clash at Wednesday night's Hoboken council meeting. Watch it live by clicking the link below.
Hoboken Councilman Tim Occhipinti sent out a press release Tuesday saying that at the meeting, he will present a petition to Mayor Zimmer and the City Council to turn vacant lots at First and Jackson Streets into open space. "In just a few weeks, the petition already has over 350 signatures and continues to gain steam," according to the release.
“In our urban landscape, we need as much open space as possible - especially here in Southwest Hoboken,” said Occhipinti. “I’m sick and tired of those who make open space promises while running for office and then turn their back on our community when it comes time to take action. Hoboken needs less lip service and more leaders committed to creating safe places for our children to play and for all our families to enjoy.”
Occhipinti said that now is the time to begin the process of acquiring the vacant lot and “Nardine's lot” at First and Jackson Street. The next step is to get the administration to submit a resolution at the next City Council meeting to hire an appraiser to determine fair market value of the properties, he said.
The release notes, "These lots are not well-maintained and have received numerous citations from the City. There are three day-care facilities within a few blocks that could utilize new open space. But since the lots are located in a residential zone, a developer could snap them up for more condos. If that happens Hoboken would lose the opportunity forever of turning them into open space. Advocating for new open space at these lots does not infringe upon the goal for a large, continuous park in the 4th Ward. This would simply be in addition to the SW6 Plan. "
Occhipinti is a political opponent of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who has also advocated for open space in the city's southwest.
Zimmer responded to Councilman Occhipinti's statement Tuesday in an open letter regarding parks in western Hoboken, questioning the fiscal prudency of Occhipinti's choices. Zimmer said in her open letter:
"Councilman Occhipinti has put forward a petition requesting that the City acquire the three Zaklama properties at First Street and Jackson Street. While I agree with the sentiment that the Southwest needs new park space urgently, fiscally prudent choices must be made, and we do not have the resources to acquire every lot where it might be desirable to have a park.
The three Zaklama properties, which total only about 0.35 acres (one third the size of Block 12), are zoned for residential use, and would be extremely costly to acquire. The largest lot, which is less than 0.25 acres, has an asking price of $4.3 million, or over $17 million per acre, compared to the approximately $3 million per acre reflected in the city's appraisal for Block 12.
These price differences explain why, in order to acquire as much open space as possible, the city has focused its acquisition efforts on property with industrial rather than residential zoning. We are also concerned about creating larger parks that can be used for active use by the entire neighborhood. We need to make economically prudent choices so that we get the best and largest Southwest Park possible.”
To watch the council meeting live, click below. The council meets at City Hall, 94 Washington St., at 7 p.m.
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