"Many people are looking to use the steps," said Union City Mayor Brian Stack about the staircase that leads from Palisade Avenue down to Manhattan Avenue where pedestrians can easily walk into Hoboken. "Some people still do use the steps even with the bad condition they are in."
At the Sept. 3 Board of Commissioners meeting, the board authorized the City Clerk to advertise for bids to solicit contractors for service for Hillside Terrace Pedestrian Pathway, which is the new name of the Yardley Steps.
Ralph Tango, an engineer with Schoor DePalma, the city's engineering firm based in Parsippany, said that the rehabilitation of the steps will come just in time to encourage pedestrian traffic to the Hoboken Light Rail Station due to open this fall.
A long time coming
Officials began the recent movement to fix the steps in 1997, when former Mayor Bruce D. Walter announced that the city had been awarded a $900,000 grant from the Department of Transportation for the project. In the summer of 2000, it seemed that the steps were finally going to get the facelift and recognition they deserved.
However, there were obstacles.
The city needed to get permission from the Hudson County Historical Society before proceeding with plans since the steps were thought to have been connected with a trolley station that had been on the property around the turn of the century. The station had two sets of tracks; one that ran from Hoboken up 32nd Street and the other running south to the Jersey City Transfer Station that was on Fifth Street and Summit Avenue.
Permission was granted after the historical society found that the Yardley Company built the steps much later than the trolley; therefore, they did not have as much historical value to the city.
However, the Americans with Disabilities Act posed another problem for the rehabilitation of the steps. Last year, former Department of Public Works Deputy Director Sergio Penunzio explained that a ramp for wheelchairs could not be built on the site because of the pitch of the slope and because the shortest part of the area is only 35 feet.
To not have a ramp on the structure goes against the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires all public property to be handicapped accessible.
The city then had to apply for a special waiver from the federal government to do construction without having a ramp for people confined to wheelchairs to use. The waiver was granted.
Plans have been made
However, plans to rehabilitate the steps have been on hold until recently. During the Sept. 3 Board of Commissioners meeting, the Board of Commissioners authorized the City Clerk to advertise for bids to solicit contractors for service for Hillside Terrace Pedestrian Pathway, formerly known as the Yardley Steps.
The bid proposals will be based on plans for the rehabilitation drafted by Schoor DePalma. These plans were last revised in June 2001.
Although the area surrounding the stairs has been cleaned up a bit, the stairs have been known to be the resting place for 40-ounce beer bottles and other debris left by vagrants and young kids who hide behind the overgrown weeds.
According to Tango, the stairs will be completely reconstructed. The plans call for new lighting, new landscaping and ornamental fencing surrounding the steps, as well as a new entranceway on Palisade Avenue and Manhattan Avenue.
Stack said that the city is also looking into some security measures that can be brought to the area such as security cameras.