As the founder of Hoboken Southwest Parks Coalition, and as someone who did live in the 4th Ward from 2000 to 2007 and has been advocating for a SW Park since 2004, I completely disagree with Jake Stuiver’s misleading statement from last week. In his endorsement letter for Mike Lenz, Mr. Stuiver says, “Smart development is being planned that respects the desires of the community for reasonable-size buildings and a long-needed southwest park.” This is false. Mr. Stuiver is leading voters to believe that a SW park is already in the works. It is disingenuous for the Lenz campaign, of which Mr. Stuiver is treasurer, to actively promote this fictional accomplishment.
The truth is, nothing is “being planned” for the 4th Ward – no park, no smart development. I know this because my park group, HSPC, has spent many years and thousands of hours fighting for a SW park. We went so far as to create an action plan to assist our elected officials. We hired professionals to help in developing the SW6 Plan, a thoroughly researched 60-page report that was presented to the City Council three years ago as a roadmap for sensible development, flood mitigation, and the six-acre park proposed in the Hoboken Master Plan. I personally delivered this report to candidate Dawn Zimmer in 2007 at one of our public meetings. Over the last three years, HSPC has worked tirelessly to increase public awareness for a SW park and to seek land acquisition funding through county and private foundations, has spent many weeks obtaining necessary petition signatures for grants, and has participated in many zoning and planning board meetings regarding development in the southwest neighborhood. During this time, I never once saw Mike Lenz promote or assist with the SW Parks effort.
It’s election time and once again the SW park discussion gets bandied around just as it did in 2007 and in 2009. However, during Dawn Zimmer’s and Mike Lenz’s cumulative tenure in representing the 4thWard for the last three years, they have not produced a SW redevelopment study or plan for public review, and they have not purchased a single parcel of land for the SW park. Three years is a long time to do nothing on the SW park and still exploit the issue as we have seen from Mike Lenz and this administration.
Since the Zimmer administration is reactive rather than proactive, perhaps they’ll rush through an ill-conceived SW Redevelopment Plan in the next two weeks in hopes of overriding Mr. Lenz’s 20 years of inaction on open space, similar to what they did when this administration attempted to rush through the horrific Western Edge Redevelopment Plan, a plan which did not include an active park.
As someone who has been at the forefront of 4th Ward park and development issues, I know that no amount of political spin and exploitation of the open space issue by the Lenz campaign can change the facts.