With all the artificial surfaces going down in the parks, with Hoboken's growing population squeezing in to utilize the available park land for recreation, relaxation, or nature, I wonder how this will all play out at the end of the development of all of Hoboken's land.
Because the City's revenue (and the power of its leaders) flows from unconstrained development, our Mayor and Council continue to support the development of every available plot of land. This takes precedence over purchasing land for public open space. To plug deficits from irresponsible overspending, the Mayor and Council sell public assets like the municipal garage to developers and have come to depend upon the give-backs from developers for open space. Because they want to maximize the density of their projects, and need zoning variances to do so, developers reluctantly promise the city a tiny contribution of public space - perhaps a few square feet of grass with pavers and maybe planter boxes.
I walked around town seeking out the public open space areas which the City categorizes as 'parks' and I find that a new breed of surfaces have invaded our open spaces. Some of these areas have no natural surfaces at all. If you look at Madison Street Park and Jefferson Street Park, you will find them composed of pavers, rubber, pea gravel, and rocks. At the Shop-Rite 'park' area there is basically an island between the parking lot and road that has a surface of pavers with many empty benches. A small oval patch of grass sits in the middle of the pavers, with a curb around it. Half of Church Square Park is now some sort of artificial surface that makes up the six playgrounds. (The smell of rubber or tar permeates the air when the sun shines on the new 'Astroland' of artificial turf.)
Consequently, I found very little refuge in nature in my walk around town, but I found no shortage of condos -- hundreds are being built everywhere. The ratio of condos to open space is alarmingly out of balance. Which makes me wonder: who is minding our existing parks and future public open space? Because the undeveloped land is being covered and crowded with ever larger and taller buildings, it is vital that we do not destroy the natural plant life and surfaces that currently exit in the parks we do have. Natural open spaces without artificial surfaces are needed more than ever to compensate for the ever increasing urban density that the development has wrought.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, "The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value." What will we leave behind as 'park' land in Hoboken?