Councilman Richard DelBoccio led the charge to step back and start the process over. "There were just to many mistakes and too many concerns to go forward," said Del Boccio durning the meeting. "We are not going forward with anything until we hear everything we can from the public, and only then will we make a decision. We will have the final say, not the Parking Authority."
The most sweeping change in the tabled ordinance would have been to allocate one side of most Hoboken streets for resident parking only - meaning no business, visitor or temporary out-of-state permits would be allowed. The other side of the street would remain for any type of permit - residential, business, temporary or visitor.
Now that there is no ordinance, the future shape of the city's resident parking program is up in the air. The council's Transportation Sub-committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday and discuss the best ways to change the ordinance.
"The changes this ordinance needs are substantial in nature," said the city's business administrator, Laurie Cotter, Wednesday during the intermission between the caucus and council meeting. "It would be no use going forward with the flawed one. The council has decided that a whole new ordinance is the way to go."
Parking Authority members Alan Cohen and Daniel DeCavaignac were unaware that the fee increase and permit regulation changes were going to be tabled. According to Cohen, just a day before, they were asked to come to the council to discuss the ordinance. Once they saw that it had been taken off the agenda Wednesday, the two left as a form of quiet protest before the meeting even started.
Cohen broke his silence Thursday by expressing disappointment over the council's decision. "It's a situation where if you want to make everyone happy, you'll never get it done," said Cohen. "There's only so many spaces, and the city has to manage those spaces in a way that's in the best interest of [Hoboken]. Some people are going to be upset because there just aren't enough spaces, but eventually these tough decisions have to be made."
Russo has to return $7,770
In other council news, the city's attorney, Esther Suarez, announced a judgement in favor of the city that will force former Mayor Anthony Russo to return $7,770 to the city coffers. According to Suarez, the judgement was over money the outgoing mayor received as vacation pay when he left office.
The ruling was a default judgement, which meant that Russo was served but did not present a defense in court. Therefore, the judge ruled in favor of the city. Russo could not be reached for comment.
In other Russo-related news, George Oritz, the young campaign manger for Russo's 2001 school board slate, was denied an extended leave of absence from his job in the city's administrative department to continue attending law school. Ortiz, who was not informed that the council would vote on his leave, thought he was the victim of politics.
"This is discretionary, capricious, and arbitrary, and I'm looking into legal action," he said. "I'm being penalized for no other fact than who I am."
Ortiz added that he found it ironic that in the same week that the mayor announced that the city might have to look into unpaid furloughs to save money (see story, p. 3), he was denied an unpaid six-month leave of absence.
While Ortiz called the denial a thinly veiled political maneuver, Council President Tony Soares felt otherwise. "It not like he was terminated," Soares said. "He still has his job and should feel free to show up for it. We just didn't feel like it was prudent to grant a leave of absence that is almost as long as his entire tenure in City Hall." Ortiz was hired last year and already had had a leave of absence since August.
Marsh introduces new checklist for developers
City Councilwoman Carol Marsh introduced an ordinance that requires every developer to provide a checklist to determine the completeness of applications. The checklist will provide developers with a blueprint of the minimum requirement for approval.
According to Marsh, the checklist will make the planning process more efficient by letting developers know exactly what is permitted and what is need in every application. It will also make it easier for Planning Board members to review application and since it will be attached to the application, it will be a easy to read summary for members of the public that wish to learn about what is being built in town. Sidebar: Planning Board selects Master Plan consulting firm
Wednesday, the city's Planning Board selected Abeles Phillips Preiss & Shapiro, Inc. of New York City to assist the board in a major revision of the city's Master Plan. A master plan is the framework that sets limits and dimensions for development and related issues.
The firm will assist the Planning Board in coming to a consensus on what the city should allow in terms of future land use, traffic, parking, historical preservation, economic development, and quality-of-life issues.
The firm stated that it could get the job done for a bare-bones minimum of $130,000 but proposed that the job should be done for $230,000. The extra $100,000 would be used for sub-consultants and the use of the extra costs would be at the discretion of the Planning Board. The firm also stated that 20 percent of the master plan budget would be used for community outreach.
"While all of the finalist were very qualified and could have done a good job, [APPS] stood out for a couple reasons," said board member Beth Mason Thursday. "First of all is the large amount of time and money they plan to put toward public outreach in a place like Hoboken that is essential. They have specialists in lots of different areas and have worked with those specialists several times in the past. The also have a history of working on waterfronts and have a strong experience when it comes to economic development."
APPS has written the master plans for Nyack, N.Y., Englewood, N.J., Summit, N.J., West Hampton Beach, N.Y., and Stamford, Conn.
APPS also plans of touching on the importance of quality-of-life issues in Hoboken's urban setting. The firm would use the sub-consulting firms of Project for Public Spaces for streetscapes and traffic calming; Mary Delaney Krugman Associates, for historical preservation; and Norman Mintz for the Washington Street revitalization. Mintz, dubbed by planning insiders as "Mr. Main Street," has over 25 years in downtown revitalization efforts.
"We are certainly pleased to be selected by the city and are very excited to delve into the problems and opportunities that we will have in Hoboken," said Paul Grygiel, a Hoboken resident and the project's manager. "In particular it's exciting being a resident of the city and to be able to help shape its future." - Tom Jennemann