Jeffrey Fulcher decries the tactics of the Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront as "revolting." Now what's revolting here?
We got a developer promising a half-billion dollar project on our waterfront, housing four thousand new residents and twice as many daily workers, with buildings as high as 100 feet, in three or more phases, and he won't even provide a model or computer simulation of what it all will look like. Why? Because he knows if the people of this town saw the mass of the project, the size of the roads, the lack of street parking and open space, and the poor ingress and egress, they would understand the impact of this development on a community already feeling the effects of over overbuilding both to the north and south of us (Jeffrey Welz's disingenuous comments last week about traffic notwithstanding). They would see what buildings this size will do to the views of New York, and they would understand from the layout that they would not be welcome in this shining new Weehawken.
I am glad that some have faith in Mayor Turner and the Planning Board to scale this development back to a reasonable size, but I don't. After months of testimony from all sides, including experts on the environmental and demographic impact of large close-in developments, from the concerned voices of the Weehawken Environment Committee, without critical studies regarding traffic, pollution, or ground contamination, and with some board members fast asleep during testimony, they approved, in one evening 95 percent of what Roseland was seeking. Unanimously. This, after packing the final open meeting with municipal employees who received vaguely threatening phone calls to show up and who dutifully kissed the palms of Mayor Turner and the Planning Board, but few of whom, if any, had attended a single meeting throughout the entire process. Interestingly, several of these people, later and in private, denounced the development and resented being cowed into a phony show of support for Roseland. They were scared, and they know this will change the town forever, that two of the most attractive features of Weehawken, the view of New York and proximity to it, are now in total jeopardy. But hey, this is Hudson County, right?
Crude voices like Jerry Nicol called the FWW carpetbaggers. For the record, the average length of residency of FWW members is about 10 years, and some are life-long residents.They come from all professions and backgrounds. They have one thing in common: they love Weehawken and are willing to fight for it in the face of both frustrating complacency and misguided trust. Carpetbaggers, Mr. Nicol, come from the outside to exploit it, to enrich themselves and go home. As far as I can see, that description fits one group here, Carl Goldberg and Roseland Development. And besides, if you don't like carpetbaggers, why are you so eager to see 4000 more on your waterfront?
The FWW's focus all along has not been about preventing development. It's been about the size and shape of the development, about sensible restrictions to urban sprawl, which other communities in the state are fighting with more success. But our Planning Board has seemed inclined from the beginning to grant Roseland pretty much everything they wanted. So now it's time to ask why? What's in it for Weehawken? What's in it or them? The always-cited-but-never-quite-realized lower taxes? (I hope no one believes that.) Future campaign contributions from Goldberg, (who has been the most generous to Rep. Menenedez)? The lovely view of rooftops and exhaust vents from Old Glory Park? Or is it something else perhaps?
Dr. Ben Goldman of the FWW says fewer than 5 percent of the group's suggestions were adopted. Yet Carl Goldberg says "no one was happy with the compromise." Please. He couldn't be more delighted. Talk about revolting. So, to Mr. Fulcher, a policeman whose letter seemed more intended to curry favor with his employers than add anything meaningful to the debate, I say: I'm glad you love the traffic. You're going to get a lot of it.