Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hoboken's Rooftop Pool

 proposed municipal garage rooftop can be converted to active, rcreational space

Naysayers Eduardo Gonzalez whine that we should deal BASF proposed park space over to developers for "residential towers",  Terry Castellano whines taxpayers should pay more for BASF property, and  3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo whines the 6-acre BASF site amounts to a "4 acre park."  Others on the City Council have a constructive, positive vision for Hoboken; a vision of what can and will be done to improve the quality of life for residents once the BASF property is acquired.

In the discussion of the BASF bond ordinance, two Councilmen hit GA's sweet spot: the desire for a municipal pool in Hoboken.

These are the ones that 'got away:' a free floating pool offered to Hoboken by the Neptune Foundation in 2000 that floated to Brooklyn in 2004, and a developer's promise to build a pool and community center in Hoboken in 2007:
A couple of weeks ago, the City announced, along with the Tarragon/URSA Development Group, that a new community center and swimming pool are in store for the city's Northwest Corridor, a formerly blighted area of industrial remains that will see rapid development over the next decade. Construction of the center and pool, on 11th Street between Madison and Monroe, will begin in 2006, and current plans call for the center to open to the public in 2007. According to Mayor Roberts, the building will be Hoboken's first new community building in more than 30 years, and the Mile Square's first public swimming pool. Many long-time residents have hailed these plans, remembering the days when, as children, they had longed for a place to cool off during the hot summer days. Their age-old dream is about to become reality. Destined to be 26,000 sq. ft. in size, Mayor Roberts has announced plans for community brainstorming meetings to figure out how this space can best be filled. He hopes to see some or all of the following included: exercise rooms, lockers, showers, a dance studio, and community activity rooms. As for the pool area, there will be a children's pool separate from the larger, main one, as well as an outdoor deck with a decorative brick wall protecting those on the inside from the traffic of 11th, Madison, and Monroe Streets. 
left: URSA-Tarragon's Pool & Community center proposal, right: floating pool first offered to Hoboken, docked in Brooklyn, now the Bronx
For a decade, the dream of a world-class municipal pool was forgotten.

Now the City is moving to acquire 6-acres from BASF for a park and municipal garage.  If the City doesn't build this wonderful amenity for our community now, it never will.

GA believes a perfect location would be atop the proposed municipal garage.  Yep, on the roof. Currently, the proposed location for the garage is the 0.68 acre lot on the northwest former of Adams and 13th Streets.  The size of this lot is approximately 200 x 150 feet.

Creating active, recreational space on the roof of the municipal garage would return the entire footprint of the BASF property to active, recreational space.  An elevator to the roof would allow easy control of  access to the pool on off-hours or off-season.  The rooftop location would provide sweeping panoramic views... it can be as beautiful as the pool Mayor Brian Stack built for Union City.

The City can call in developer promises to help fund its construction.  (Yeah, no one should hold their breath...)

A community pool is a promise to hardworking taxpayers whose time has COME.  These are the pools our neighboring municipalities have built for their residents. Guess WHICH community pool is provided by the following municipalities:
1. North Bergen 
2. Union City 
3. Jersey City 
4. West New York 
5. Secaucus 
6. Hoboken

Post your answers, GA will tell you if you are correct.

47 comments:

  1. Gonzalez wants to trade what the city NEEDS, park space for what the city DOESN'T need, condo towers! Unbelievable. For whose benefit?

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  2. I do not understand this fixation with a pool. And given how developers never promise on pools or tennis bubbles as they said they would, I would never give any developer anything in exchange for such an empty promise.

    BTW, the developers who have stiffed us should get nothing what so ever, period, end of story. They want a variance for anything, my response would be "come back after you built that amenity you promised us a decade ago and never delivered on". Until then, you can go pound sand.

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    1. Well, then we won't see you at the pool!

      Folks who find a pool a highly desirable amenity can join GA in the deep water. Developers have burned us, as have elected officials who let a free pool float away. A city that bikes and boats can find a way to swim, as have our neighboring municipalities.

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    2. I agree a public city pool on the roof of the parking garage is a good idea and would likely be cheaper to build, secure and run than a in ground level pool.

      The Jackson Street Pino-Monroe Center project that the City worked out the Bijou developers stipulates that the large wedge shaped park and the public gym promised gets built first.

      Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.

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  3. I certainly agree with Anon 12:18 that developers like the Barry boys, who are screwing Hoboken with the attempted Monarch instead of promised rec space, should never be dealt with again by the city

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  4. I actually think the pool on the roof is a great idea as it would kill two birds with one stone and allowing for more recreational and passive space below. Great idea.
    Now for the bad news....even using eminent domain is no guarantee that the city will acquire the property for the price they think. This would be a huge eye opener in court.
    Just like the southwest will be. There is no way we are buying that park for only $2M.
    Now add in legal fees in the millions to fight this fight and it will start to add up.
    Add the pool to the already proposed $16 and you just added another $10.

    An acre in Hoboken is valued at $4-$5 Million. The city is not realistic with their pricing and the judges will illustrate that when the southwest is completed and basf gets started. I would not be surprised if BASF wants $40-$60 Million.

    The council has good intentions because a park like this does become the central park of Hoboken and a wonderful additional but the cost will be larger then anticipated. Expensive project, but a real value for all of Hoboken.

    Good luck fighting this one!

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    1. So what do you suggest be done with the site, anon@1:40?

      BTW, you say "Add the pool to the already proposed $16 and you just added another $10." Unclear what that means...are you saying a pool would cost $10 million?

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    2. Nothing in this world is free.

      The use of eminent is tool to secure the property at a fair price that the Court will decide upon. So whatever the price that is decided upon it will be fair,


      Whatever the price the they decide upon it will still be a good deal for Hoboken in the long run .


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    3. Legal fees in the millions for an eminent domain proceeding? Where'd you get that figure? All your litigating is a valuation - the legal fees are unlikely to be no more than rounding error.

      Using your estimate of $4- $5 million per acre for the 6 acres of BASF you get to a land acquisition cost of $24-$30 million, not $40-$60. And don't we have open space trust fun money to pay for this stuff that can't be used for anything else but buying parks? If we do then this is basically already paid for.

      It's certainly possible that a court could use a higher value than your estimate and the city could wind up spending more. To get to the $40-$60 million figure you suggest you (and I guess the City) would have to be pretty off target on your per acre valuation so hopefully you (and the city) will turn out to be right about the estimated value.

      And since the SW is covered by a $3 million grant, it will indeed cost the City only $2 million if your top end estimate of $5 million per acre turns out to be right.

      I wouldn't be surprised if BASF wanted $100 million and the owner in the SW wanted $10 million - if the asking prices were as reasonable I doubt anybody would be talking about using eminent domain.

      But high asking prices and low offers don't mean jack in an ED proceeding where the price is set by an independent valuation, though it certainly would be nice if both the city and sellers of the two properties at some point develop reasonable enough expectations to agree on a price without litigating for years. Of course that would require the buyers to come to the realization that they are selling an empty contaminated piece of land not a 12 story condo building.

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  5. GA an excellent idea...I don't know why I didn't think of it..? Kudos for pushing this forward...tired of my treck to the north bergen pool... 😄

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  6. Great idea!! Let's get it done!

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  7. Would be interesting to compare the cost-benefit of a year-round indoor pool vs. a seasonal outdoor pool (or some hybrid). Maybe the outdoor/rooftop space could also be used for a seasonal ice rink during the off-season, like Lasker in Central Park... Either way it would be sort of odd to have just a pool on a garage rooftop; a pool/field house/garage would be a nice multi-purpose combo.

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    1. What's odd about it? It won't be seen from the street and would be adjacent to the new large park. Wasn't the Shipyard pool built on the garage? It is a fairly small lot. Big enough for a nice sized pool and changing room.

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    2. People live in Shipyard--the pool is part of a connected complex. For the municipality, it's probably more efficient and beneficial to include other athletic/recreational facilities with a pool and garage. Like one floor of indoor activity space between the garage and the pool.

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    3. A roof top pool is a decent idea. The only flaw that I can see it is unless the parking structure is taller than it is currently planned you will lose a good amount of parking for a city that is already strapped for parking. I've worked as a lifeguard/pool manager in college and the pool I worked in happened to be a roof top facility. The "floor" below it was taken up with piping and mechanical(pumps and such) space for the pool. Also you'll need a space to secure the chemicals that are needed to keep the pool clean and the PH properly balanced (dangerous acids and bases).

      Also over time the bottom of the pool will need to be repaired. If an in-ground pool develops a leak the pool water leaches into the surrounding soil. A roof top one the water starts to flood the rest of the structure. Also repairing an in-ground pool is fairly straight forward, you just fill the cracks. A roof top one require mold and such on the underside to keep the plaster/cement in place while it cures. We don't even want to think about it would cost the city is it happens to have a catastrophic failure.

      Basically an in-ground pool cost less to build and maintain but the roof top is prettier, but it costs more. I think we should keep the parking facility as a parking facility and use some of the ground space for an indoor/outdoor pool.

      On a side note using the pool as a ice rink would put a lot of wear and tear on a pool since water expands when it freezes meaning more maintenance costs. You would also have to freeze all of the water for safety concerns, most ice rinks are very shallow frozen pools of water.

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    4. SkyClub Gym has a pool on the top of their parking garage. I works.

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    5. I was just pointing out it would cost city more to build and maintain and remove valuable parking space the city desperately needs.

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    6. Anon @ 11:07- No, it would not "remove vauable parking space the city needs." The number of spaces required is calculated independently. The pool sits atop whatever size garage the city needs. Yes, of course it would "cost more-" did you expect it was free?

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    7. Indoor recreational space might be needed if the city lets HoLa horn in on the multi-service center like they have done to the Boys and Girls club.

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    8. Anonymous @ 11:31 I'm sorry it's so obvious I didn't think it would need to be explained, I will endeavor to do so now in a way that makes it obvious. Lets say for the sake of argument the structure is 5 stories tall. If you use the top story for the pool and at least half if not not more for the plumbing and such of the one below, then that is space the CANNOT be used for parking. So instead of 5 levels of parking you have 3 maybe 3 and 1/2. That's what I mean about the loss of valuable parking space. Going further lets say the city wants 5 full levels of parking with a pool included in the building plans then the full structure would have to be 7 stories tall.

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    9. If they build a 7 story structure I would want them to use ALL it for parking I'm sick of driving around the block 18 time every night before I can go home. I'm also sick of budgeting X amount of dollars a month just to pay tickets I can't afford to take a day off from work to fight them in court.

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    10. Anon @ 5:23- this is 11:31. It is pretty clear you have no engineering or construction knowledge. No, you do not lose parking. The height of the top of your 5th floor slab to the top of your roof slab includes the depth of pool, pool floor construction and structural support. Your plumbingand mechanicals run through the plenum. It is not a substantial increase in the overall building height, pretty nominal. If you have 5 floors of parking that requires a variance.

      I'm sorry that was so obvious, best not to talk out of your ass.

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    11. Doesn't Marineview have a pool on top of the garage there too?

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  8. A public pool in a square mile city with 55,000 people? Think I'd rather go swim off the Gaza Strip. It's crowded there too but at least I can swim away from the crowds. You're not really advancing the idea of a pool but an outdoor oversized bathtub with a bunch of bathers. Hoboken doesn't need the headaches or the heavy costs to maintain it. Oh and the inevitable lawsuits...

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    1. If you have a problem with crowds why do you live in the most densely populated part of the United States?

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    2. Who says I'm afraid of crowds? Do you typically go to the bathroom with the door open and have dozens of others with you when you do?

      Also, how many million dollar lawsuits do you think the city will face for females having their asses pinched? Because let me tell you if you think that ain't happening, you don't know urban risk management.

      Screw the pool and the headaches that would go with it. Hoboken can do a lot of things with millions of dollars that would be far more useful to tens of thousands of residents.

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    3. You might want to read what you say and think about what it says about you.

      You said you would want to swim away from the crowds. That's where the idea comes from that you have an issue with crowds. You also seem to have an inherent dislike of a shared resource when you refer to it as an oversized bathtub with a bunch of bathers.

      New York, slightly larger than Hoboken, has these bathtubs. Are they swamped with lawsuits for "pinching" incidents? Pinching? Does anyone still do that? Did you mean groping? Is that what you superior knowledge of "urban risk management" taught you? Don't offer venues that promote pinching?

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    4. Hey, Anon11:53- are you saying you want to pee in the pool in private? Your ass pinching scenario is ridiculous. Union City has 80,000+ population and has had no multimillion dollar ass pinching lawsuits related to pinched asses in their pool. If municipalities feared ass pinching law suits there'd be no municipal pools. No offense, but you sound like a cranky old fuck who likes to urinate in the swimming pool and probably does the ass pinching. All you have to do is stay home, pinch your own ass and let your neighbors enjoy the city pool.

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    5. Hey dee ho anonymous. I usually don't like talkin to folks with furrin soundin names like you got. Is that Romanian? I don't trust those people. Always a lot of em around carnivals. But I do like to take a nice long leak in the pool so we have that in common. And when I see them girls in their bathing petticoats..... Hard to keep those pinches to myself if you know what I mean. Maybe we could put chicken wire across the middle and a sign to say men pee on this side and girls pee over here. That should do her!

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  9. I'd still like a barge pool, or two, on the river. Perfect spot would be midtown, that long empty stretch of walkway with picnic areas no one uses.

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  10. If we had sold out to developers as Gonzales suggests in every instance, there'd have been no Pier A Park, no waterfront walkway, and there'd be an oil tank storage facility where the shipyard development is now.

    There are many instances where the developer's give-backs were small to non-existant, such as the "park" at the Shop Rite parking lot, the un-built amenities Ursa-Taragon was sued for not providing and now Ironstate / Applied trying to ram the Monarch down our throats when the tennis courts and ball fields were part of the planned unit development they agreed to.

    Deals with developers such as we've seen under Capiello, Russo and Roberts don't work in favor of Hoboken. We all know who benefited and how. This stops now.

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    1. Gonzales sounds like the new chorus in the Capeillo, Russo, Roberts song.

      Hello Mr. Gonzales,

      Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, is crazy. Are you crazy or in bed with the developer? I don't have an opinion or any info about you, so you can tell us which it is.

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  11. I think Hoboken's previous disastrous deals with developers were caused by poor planning, lack of oversight and just plain down adn dirty corruption.

    Recently we have seen that the City has learned from the mistakes of the past and has been able to work with honest developers to come to a compromise plan that gives back to City and still allows room for the developer to make a profit from their investment.

    The key is that the Administration brokering the deal is doing so with it's objective finding that balance without individuals within that Administration having their own private side deals.

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    1. In the past they were not mistakes, it is my humble opinion that the developers never held up their end of deal because, no one expected them to when the deals were made. The deals were all for show with wink and nod.

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  12. The floating barge is still the best solution. This should still be looked into.

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  13. Dave Roberts and Applied didnt want a PUBLIC pool with PUBLIC Housing kids on the waterfront. The Barry's controlled Roberts through a congressman and local senator.

    Roberts made sure he stonewalled the pool until it went to Bk!

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  14. A public pool in front of The W Hotel and 333 River was not going to happen if Joe Barry had his way, and since he had Carmelo Garcia as Human Services Director and Recreation Dir in City Hall he made certain it never happened... Imagine poor kids mixing with W hotel kids? Not in Applied/Garcia's world

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    1. How is Joe Barry connected to the W Hotel?

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    2. Carmelo Garcia was Director of RECREATION when the pool offered for FREE by the Neptune Foundation floated off to Brooklyn????

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    3. Mr. Carmelo has played both sides of the race card when their was something in it fort him.

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    4. Joe Barry owns The W and 333 River, that's how!

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  15. Carmelo served as Joe Barry's embedded staffer in city hall. he made sure Roberts, Kenny and Menedez served Applied as Joe Barry ordered

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  16. What is so good about having a pool? How about swim teams. Baseball and soccer are great, but those are team sports and kids often get a trophy at the end regardless of how hard they worked.

    I did swim team as a child, sure we all got trophies at the end of the season, but we also got all of the 1st. 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons that we individually earned. I was always trying to beat my best time. I showed up to practice at 7:00 morning 5 days a week. I practiced on my own.

    If you are sick of seeing kids getting awards just for showing up, then we need sports like track, swimming, wrestling, where an individual can win even if the team doesn't.

    A pool can be good for adults too.

    But most of all, any deal with a developer has to be iron clad and they can't be allowed to skate like Raia (Ursala/Taragon) and the Barrys.

    The deal has to be a legally binding contract, with serious consequences if they don't fulfill their end of the bargin.

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  17. How bout Barry make nice and arrange for a floating pool where he wants to build the Monarch or along side Pier 13. Greedy di$k.

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    1. Excellent! There's nothing like a refreshing dip in the pool after a tennis match (on the courts the Barrys promised to build.) Anybody else sick of developers screwing the public, devouring open, recreational space for "residential "towers." Biancamano supports Monarch, Gonzalez opposes a 6-acre park at the BASF site. Everybody get out the vote.

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  18. Great pictures, seems to be a great place to spend some time along with friends and family!

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