The City Council will vote next week on whether to approve recently-finalized plans for improvements to Church Square Park, one of the city’s most popular open spaces. If the plans receive the required five votes, the Zimmer administration hopes to award a contract for construction by mid-September.
And no…the plans do not call for cutting down several aged trees that residents near the park feared would be victims of the city’s zeal for improvement.
Between Fourth and Fifth streets and bordered by Garden and Willow avenues, Church Square Park is the site of concerts and poetry readings and its facilities include a gazebo, dog run, basketball court, a restroom, and playground facilities. However, some of these facilities are outdated or closed to the public.
“They really wanted a park that was green and simplistic.” – Leo Pellegrini
Director of Health and Human Services Leo Pellegrini said roughly 150 people offered suggestions, which were factored into the final plans.
“They really wanted a park that was green and simplistic,” said Pellegrini. “What we got out of it was a rehabilitation of the park.”
Perhaps the chief topic of discussion was the concern over the potential removal of trees in the park. Residents expressed their concern that the administration would be cutting down trees that took decades to grow.
Pellegrini said that the finalized plans do not call for the removal of any trees from within the park.
Upgrades will be in two phases
Plans for the park call for construction to be completed in two phases, Pellegrini said. The first will renovate the playground areas, basketball courts, and restroom facility. New equipment will be installed in the playground area, including two new playground structures, new swings, picnic tables, benches, rain gardens, turning bars, and more.
The restroom will be renovated and become wheelchair-accessible. The basketball courts, which have roots protruding through the surface, will be resurfaced and expanded.
‘Reading nook’ and dog run
Phase two calls for the installation of a new sprinkler system, the renovation of the dog run, and the installation of a “reading nook” for quiet public study. The Hoboken Public Library overlooks the park from the corner of Fifth Street and Park Avenue.
One focus of phase two is the dog run, which will receive major upgrades. Previously, the gravel within the dog run apparently ran across the street and into the neighboring church. The run will receive new, harder gravel, seating areas, and a canopy.
Pellegrini said that the park will be fenceless in order to create an open atmosphere, and that new trees and foliage will be planted to border facilities such as the dog run and basketball courts. Two ping pong tables will be put in place near the entrances for public use.
The rest of the facilities, such as the gazebo in the center of the park, will remain unchanged.
Pellegrini estimated that the total cost of the upgrades would be roughly $750,000. A large portion of the cost would be utilized from the $1.6 million bond ordinance for existing parks that was authorized by the council in March.
The Hoboken Family Alliance recently raised $50,000 to go toward the project, officials said in June. Pellegrini said that the administration is considering applying for grants to help with a portion of the costs.
Pellegrini said he hopes that construction can begin in early fall, with work pausing during the winter.
“I’m just happy we have the plans and we can move forward and hopefully get the shovels in the ground as soon as possible,” said Pellegrini. “We’ve been discussing this for quite a while now.”
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at email@example.com.