Last week, an editorial from the Fund for a Better Waterfront was printed in the Reporter, which described Stevens' current proposals for the Hoboken waterfront as being "misleading". The editorial took issue with the vision that Stevens has presented for three remaining undeveloped parcels of land along the Hoboken waterfront. Its author pointed out the public detriment that would occur if Stevens was allowed to turn this vision into a reality. In my opinion, it was the Fund for a Better Waterfront's editorial that was misleading, due to its convenient omission of numerous points about both Stevens' proposed uses for the waterfront properties, and the facts surrounding the current waterfront development plans in front of the Hoboken Planning Board.
The first property discussed in the editorial is located just north of the soccer field at Sinatra Park. This is the site of Stevens' physical plant, with parking for about 230 cars. In its current state, it does not allow for public access to the waterfront, and is an eyesore to say the least. Stevens proposes to move the physical plant to a location within the interior of their campus, and replace it with their "Center for Maritime Studies." This building will house engineering facilities for the study of ship hull design, and be an integral part of Stevens' marine studies and river based ecology programs. The site will also provide a mooring facility for marine research vessels from around the world to visit and participate in Stevens' marine studies. Last week's editorial questioned Stevens' desire to locate such a facility near the waterfront. I can't imagine why. The facility will not block public access to the waterfront, but enhance it. It will be encircled by large amounts of open space that will be open to the public, and allow for the continuous waterfront walkway to reach from Sinatra Park to the recently opened stretch running south from the Union Dry Dock property. Most of the building will be only one story in height, with a very small portion at its southern end being three stories high. None of this was mentioned in last week's editorial.
The next property discussed in the editorial is the current location of the Union Dry Dock. Again, in its current state, an eyesore. Stevens proposes to put a large outdoor athletic facility at this site, which will include a soccer field and a running track. The public walkway will continue around this entire facility, which will further serve to complete the vision of total public access to the Hoboken waterfront. A portion of the facility will sit on a pier in the same fashion that the Pier A public park does. The projection out into the Hudson will be less than that of the current piers of the Union Dry Dock. This will open up the views North and South when standing along the public waterfront walkway. Anyone questioning the feasibility of creating such a facility has to merely look at Pier A park and its twin that is currently under construction just south of Sinatra Park as shining examples of how this can be done. Anyone who has visited the Pier A park can appreciate the value that will come from creating another large open expanse of grass at the water's edge. Stevens has also stated that the public will be given access to this sports field when it is not being used by the school's athletic teams, and of course the public will have continuous access to the waterfront walkway that will surround it.
The third property discussed in the editorial is the Maxwell House site. All that is said about Stevens' vision for this property is that they plan to rebuild two "sheds" that are currently located on a man-made pier and the earthen peninsula, with not a hint of proposed uses. Stevens has presented the creation of a public theatre/music pavilion as one of the possible uses of the rebuilt "shed" on the earthen peninsula, which was conveniently not mentioned on the editorial. The editorial also fails to mention that Stevens is proposing to rehabilitate some of the existing Maxwell House structures into a state of the art Math and Science public school which will be part of the Hoboken public school system, create commercial space for high-tech companies and start-ups that will work in collaboration with Stevens, create a public baseball field to mark the original Elysian Field and develop the site on a far less dense scale than is currently being proposed by local developers.
In a nutshell, a few key points about the Stevens vision were left out. The author of the editorial argues that things done by Stevens in the past make anything they (Stevens) say going forward impossible to believe. This is very convenient and very weak cop-out. Stevens should be engaged and not ignored on these issues. An informed public will be capable of putting in place the structure that will require Stevens to keep its current and future promises. Throughout the development of this vision, Stevens and the Roberts administration have invited community input at several public meetings they have organized. I strongly urge all Hoboken citizens to attend future meetings and learn all they can about what Stevens is proposing. The positives surrounding these proposals are just too many to list, and will add permanent value to Hoboken. It would be criminal to let this opportunity slip by, and in its place, build another massive apartment complex.