Last night, Hoboken's City Council met to a packed house- over 40 speakers signed up for public comment!
What drew the huge turnout?
This Ordinance which was up for Introduction and First Reading
"...authorizing the acquisition of certain real property known as Block 10, Lots 1 through 7, and Lots 30 through 36 on the official tax map of the city of Hoboken and the institution of Eminent Domain Proceedings, if necessary."GA had heard advance buzz that several "no" votes on this Ordinance would be a 'coming out party' of sorts for a new political faction on Hoboken City Council.
In fact, the 'No' side rallied folks to speak in opposition to the 'ED' Ordinance, even (according to a witness) transporting some by bus to City Hall.
|Sent to GA by reader with message: "Academy literally bused people in last night to the council meeting"|
Yes, it was quite a public response for and against the City's right to use eminent domain to negotiate the sale of Academy Bus-owned Block 10.
As it happened, community turnout ( the 'Yes' side) dwarfed the 'No' side in number.
The 'Yes' side were largely 4th Ward residents and neighbors. They spoke passionately about how the acquisition of the land for a larger Southwest Park would improve their lives, their children's, and the quality of life for the entire community. Local activist LaTrenda Ross described HHA residents' desire for the larger SW park. Interestingly, most on the "Yes-side" did not favor implementation of eminent domain, but believed it was a necessary "tool" for negotiating with Block 10's owner, Academy Bus.
And the 'No' side?
Speakers supported the 40-year resident business and local employer, Academy Bus. and urged the council to allow the City to continue negotiations without the threat of eminent domain.
And then... there was former 33rd District Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia [at 01:06:36]
Read Garcia's word-salad carefully.
"... the reality is, you have a great opportunity. I came to speak to you about economic and community development. I mean clearly, we know that the Southwest park is needed, it's a signature park, it is a gateway to the city. And having that anchor park that can make a huge difference for those residents, especially the residents of the Housing Authority as LaTrenda spoke about earlier, but clearly right now you have the opportunity to lead with a public-private partnership. I mean we all know I specialize in you know, economic development community. So what I know is that eminent domain is definitely expensive. The litigation of it can take longer time. The best critical path is usually having those cooperating partners who can come to the table and definitely give the city its concession as its needed. You know as an advocate of open space, I developed the Mama Johnson ball field, the Spray and Splash park over in the Housing Authority as the former Executive Director of the Housing authority so I know that definitely the open space is a must for our residents. But I think utilizing the right methodology in a public-private partnership is the best tool we have. And when you take these jobs, these projects, I think we need to focus on you know, giving Hobokenites opportunities to be employed through these construction projects. Right now, you know we have young people as you know, unfortunately in the West End of town, who some are overdosing, some.. you know we have shootings that have been happening, so we really need to really give them the right infrastructure, and I want to try to thread this together, to provide the resources to support the police, support you know the residents who came out tonight and have given these heartfelt speeches about the need to have this park, but we know we have cooperating parties who we can all bring to the table, as uh some of the folks have spoken about. Providing a concession to the city, would be the best outfit, would be the best outlet, and I'm hopeful that you guys will utilize a public-private partnership that really can get us to achieve the goal of expanding the city's open space, providing a signature resiliency park, but at the same time honoring the partners that we have, creating more employment, having the economic impact that the city needs, and of course beautifying and improving our environment. So I implore you to definitely utilize those tools, particularly the public private partnership model so that we can accomplish this. Thank you so much and have a great night."
Methinks Garcia inadvertently 'spilled the beans'.
Did you see that crunchy "construction projects" crouton hiding in his heaping word salad?
Let's get real.
Garcia, who has been suing the City of Hoboken since 2013 argued against the Hoboken using eminent domain because the litigation "can take a long time" and is "expensive"?
Word Salad translation: Garcia crept from his hidey-hole to pitch redeveloping Block 10 with new construction ("the economic impact that the city needs") and- oh yeah, and you'll get a park, too.
But really, it's for the children.
Garcia and his Dark Side friends want to employ those poor kids on the West End of town who are getting all shot up and "overdosing"! This "public-private partnership" for "construction projects" is one big jobs creation program; "eminent domain" is a jobs-killer! If the City doesn't scrap "eminent domain" - kids on the West End of Hoboken will continue to shoot each other and overdose!
Hey, did you know that in 2006 Academy had proposed a concept plan for Blocks 10, 11 and 12 that included a 3.8 acre park and three 17-story towers?
click rendering to enlarge
The beige areas on the rendering are the three 17-story towers connected by 6 story buildings.
That was ambitious, makes you wonder...
Did the dream die in 2006 or...
In the case of negotiation for Block 10, the power of eminent domain has the power of making dreams disappear.
Or, as Garcia might put it, making "jobs creation programs" disappear.