The state funds will be utilized to rehabilitate the soccer field at Sinatra Park and for the construction of two new parks - the Jackson Street Garage Park and a new skateboard park at the recently constructed Castle Point Park.
Green Acres is a grant and loan program for acquisition and construction of parks and open space that is administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Sen. Kenny spearheaded the lobbing effort in Trenton to receive the Green Acres funds for Hoboken.
"I'm pleased that we were able to convene a meeting of the Budget Oversight Committee so that Hoboken could finally benefit from these funds," said Kenny Tuesday. "I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Roberts, and to eventually lobby in Trenton for additional Green Acres funds when the city is ready to proceed with Pier C." The money was originally earmarked for the construction of Pier C Park, but because of the state's fiscal difficulties, Kenny and Roberts decided that it is a better idea to make use of this money now, before the state decides to seize those funds.
Mayor Roberts said Tuesday that the Green Acres funding will greatly improve the city's options when it comes to open space. "The springtime and summer seasons are upon us, and many residents are naturally thinking about spending more time in Hoboken's parks," said the mayor. "However, I have been thinking non-stop about ways to preserve and acquire more open space since coming into office last July, and I'm pleased with the progress that we've made."
Sinatra Park soccer field
According to city officials, the entire soccer field at Sinatra Park will be reconstructed as a regulation-sized field using the latest-generation artificial turf. The turf, which resembles grass as opposed to a hard, flat surface, is currently in use at the Stevens Institute of Technology and will be used on Hoboken High School's athletic field.
This will be the third time in three years that the field at Sinatra Park will have to be re-surfaced. According to Cassandra Wilday, the city's director of environmental services, there are several reasons that the field has had to be resurfaced multiple times in the last four years. The first reason is that the park is constantly in use. There are over 600 area children who participate in the city's youth soccer program in addition to adult volleyball and other adult leagues that use the field.
Secondly, according to Wilday, the field has terrible drainage problems. Because the field is built on a pier and was constructed without drainage devices, the water has a tendency to puddle when it rains. These puddles have killed approximately half of the grass on the field, making it uneven and full of small holes and trenches. Wilday is confident that the major renovations and the installation of turf will solve both the drainage and heavy usage issues.
According to Mayor Roberts, it is the city's goal to have the field finished by the start of the fall soccer season. "We're putting this project on the fast track, and hopefully it won't cut into next year's soccer season," the mayor said. He added that even if it is not finished by the beginning of the season, arrangements will be made so that no games are lost due to construction.
Frank Cardillo, the president of the Hoboken Youth Soccer League, said Tuesday that he is glad that the city is doing something about the field. "It's great for the kids," he said. "I'm happy to hear something is going to happen with the field, and I'm hopeful that it can be resurfaced in time for the upcoming soccer season. This will be the third time the field is resurfaced, and hopefully with this new turf it will last. The new turf looks great and it feels great. All the players that I've spoken to who have been on it say that it is great."
Paul Dillon, one of the directors of the Hoboken Youth Soccer League, said that the renovation has the possibility of substantially upgrading youth soccer in Hoboken. "It could be a great legacy for Mayor Roberts," said Dillon. "It's an improvement that is going to be around for many, many years and represents a large investment in youth soccer."
Jackson Street Park
The reclassified Green Acres funds will also be used to construct Jackson Street Park. The park, located at 116 Jackson St., was first announced in October of last year. The city plans to turn an old and unused municipal garage in the 4th Ward into a community playground. The garage has been out of service for almost 30 years, according to Mayor Roberts.
The park will be open from dawn to dusk and will have a spray fountain and play areas for small children. The park will also have game tables, a tree grove, a lawn area, and bathroom facilities. According to city officials, ground will be broken for the park in spring of 2003.
Some in the community have voiced concerns that because the park will be on the site of an old garage, there could be some soil contamination. Wilday said Tuesday that every precaution would be taken to protect the neighborhood's children. "We have entered into a sampling program with the [Hudson County Economic Development Authority] to sample the soil at the site," she said. "Right now, we have no reason to believe that there is any soil contamination."
Castle Point skateboard park
The final project that will be funded by the new Green Acres money is a skateboard park that will be constructed just north of Castle Point Park. Castle Point Park was completed in 2001, and was funded through a grant provided by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
According to city officials, Five Borough Skateboard, a skateboard park design company, is assisting in the design of the park with local residents. The park will be able to accommodate all ages and skating abilities, and it will include pyramids, rails, a six-foot half-pipe, and ledges. The construction of the skateboard park will result in the completion of the walkway, as well as additional plantings and will include bathroom facilities and vending machines. Construction of the skateboard park is scheduled to be completed by fall of this year.
Local skateboarder Hank Robertson, 14, said Tuesday that a skateboard park would be a welcome addition to the city.
"It would be nice to have," said Robertson as he took a break from skating just outside the Hoboken Train Terminal. "We don't really have anywhere to go right now. If we take skateboards on city streets or in any of the parks, people look at us like we're criminals."