In a city that has seen unprecedented growth in development, Hoboken Mayor David Roberts said recently that it is the goal of his administration to "triple the amount of open space in Hoboken within the next decade." There are two main projects in the works.
According to Hoboken Director of Environmental Services Cassandra Wilday, plans are afoot for Pier C Park, a twin to the already existing Pier A Park located on the end of Second Street on the south waterfront. Pier C will cover about two and a half acres whereas Pier A is five acres. According to city officials, construction will begin in 2004 and the park will be completed sometime in 2005.
The park is slated to include a playground, an enclosed "floating marsh" and a permanent movie screen that will accommodate the wildly popular "Movies Under the Stars" program.
Hoboken's second major open space undertaking is the proposed 6-acre park that is slated to be located on the old Maxwell House factory property.
Located on Hudson Street between 10th and 12th Streets, the entire project, managed by Daniel Gans and George Vallone of the Hoboken Brownstone Company, will include an 832-unit residential/commercial space with six acres of fully accessible public open space. Ten acres of the 24-acre site are water. Also included in the plans is the restoration of a sliver of beach that has been mostly unused for almost half a century.
The entire development will cost approximately $500 million and will take about five years to complete. According to Wilday, Church Square Park, located between Fourth, Fifth and Garden streets, will be refurbished, and Madison Park, located at Third and Madison streets, will receive new playground equipment.
A third park that is actually finished is the Jackson Street Park, located on Jackson Street between First and Second streets. According to Wilday, the only step delaying the official opening of the park is the addition of lighting fixtures. Said Wilday, "The building code official won't give his final OK until we get that. The park will open in 2004."
Recently, Mayor David Roberts instituted an outdoor ice skating rink at the Little League field for local youths.
According to Jersey City Public Information Officer Stan Eason, Jersey City has many park plans to come in 2004.
Lafayette Park in the Lafayette section in the city will be receiving $2.1 million in renovations, according to Eason. Once the main renovations are done, a pool will be built within the park's confines. Originally, the pool was slated to outdoors and for use during spring and summer, but the powers-that-be in Jersey City thought it made more sense to build an indoor pool that could be used year 'round. "This remains to be seen," said Eason.
A $1.5 million renovation project is planned for Bayside Park in the Greenville section. According to Eason, this will include a new clubhouse, new bleachers and a "realignment of the field," which may include a resurfacing. Eason added that Jersey City is also looking "for a site in that area to build a second pool like the one planned for Lafayette Park." This will also be an indoor pool.
Moving up to the Heights Section, plans are ongoing to make the Leonard Gordon Park "more family-oriented," according to Eason. This will include picnic areas and benches. "We want to give our residents more chances to get out and enjoy the outdoors," said Eason.
Also included in the renovation efforts is the Oak Street and Ocean Avenue Park. According to Eason, a building engineer is supposed to look at the park in the next few months and give his insights into how to improve it. According to Eason, the park is currently a "black pavement" park, basically a parking lot without cars. "We will be making this park more user-friendly," said Eason.
Funding, according to Eason, will be provided by several sources, such as capital funds and some state Green Acres funds.
For one of the most crowded towns in the county, preserving open space is of paramount importance in Union City.
Where Indian Pond Park used to be at 33rd Street and New York Avenue, work has commenced on what will become Union City's flagship park. Dubbed the "Juan Pablo Duarte Park," the site is actually two parks that will be joined into one. The section of 33rd Street that bisected the parks will be closed and the spaces will be joined. According to Union City Commissioner of Parks Christopher Irizarry, the park will be a combination passive/active park with a water park and a play apparatus for children. "We're very excited about this," said Irizarry. A summer 2004 opening is expected. The park is being constructed with state Green Acres funding.
Another project currently underway, according to Irizarry, is the construction of the Uptown Pool, located at 47th Street and Palisade Avenue. Slated to open in the summer of 2004, the pool is actually part of a larger recreation complex that will sit adjacent to the Union City Day Care Center.
The pool will be heated and will feature a retractable roof. Said Stack at the groundbreaking ceremony, "For many summers, many children enjoyed this [original 47th Street] pool. But as it got older, it became a patch job year after year. Now the residents of the uptown area will have a pool."
The project will cost approximately $3.1 million and is being financed through a variety of sources including the Hudson County Community Development Agency and Green Acres funds.
Union City's other pool is presently located at the Bruce D. Walter Recreation Center on West Street.
Irizarry also mentioned that demolition is set to begin on the abandoned garage at the corner of 39th Street and Park Avenue. Talks are underway to eventually make this space into a rollerskating park like Hoboken's. According to Irizarry, this is still on the drawing board, but it looks promising. If built, this will be only the third skating park in Hudson County. Currently, Secaucus has such a park as well.
Weehawken has plans to add its two cents to the development boom currently underway on the waterfront. At a November 2003 press conference, it was announced that a new Pier Park will be built on the small sliver of waterfront in the town.
The Weehawken Pier D will, according to town officials, create a community space on a restored pier that was destroyed by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The town has proposed to rebuild the pier with areas for fishing and outdoor concerts.
Said Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner at the press conference, "This plan is for the pier next to the Chart House restaurant. There is about 1.5 acres of space. We are going to rebuild the pier for passive public purposes and for the performing arts. We're very excited by this."
Weehawken is also included in Hoboken's waterfront plans. According to Hoboken officials, a project that will finally link the Hoboken and Weehawken waterfront walkways is in the early discussion stages.
Also, according to Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, the town has plans to add a "tot lot" (a baby playground) to the Webster School located at Palisade Avenue and Angelic Street. The Webster School is a pre-K to second grade school.
Also, according to Turner, Louisa Park, located just off Boulevard East and Fulton Street, will be refurbished.
West New York
The year 2004 will see two major park projects come to fruition in West New York.
The first project is the refurbishment of Weigand Park located at 54th Street and Park Avenue. The refurbishment of this park, expected to be completed in the spring or summer of 2004, is the final piece in the puzzle of park renovation that West New York Mayor Albio Sires promised when he took office eight years ago.
The park will include new playground facilities, including a separate swing area and a decorative water fountain, complete with water-spouting urns. Also included in the design are a spray pool for younger children, new landscaping, fencing, lighting and decorative brick walkways.
The project will be paid for with a mixture of county, state and federal funds.
There will also be a new park on the West New York waterfront on the only pier left that has not been developed with condominiums.
The proposal for the park calls for trees and benches, a gazebo, and a walkway that will give the public greater access to the waterfront.
Should the project gain the expected approval, it will receive $800,000 in funding from the state Green Acres fund.
Another park set to open in the summer of 2004, is St. Mary's Park, located at 66th and Jackson streets. This park has a special place in Sires' heart. Said Sires recently, "St. Mary's Park is in the middle of a neighborhood that is packed with schools. I think that the younger kids will really get a lot of enjoyment out of the parks."
While North Bergen has no specific park construction projects on the horizon, according to town spokesman Jay Sticco, "We are planning to refurbish all of our parks. What we do is preventative maintenance." Sticco mentioned that the Stan Newman field located on 64th Street will be refurbished in "the near future." The Newman field is utilized for baseball and football games.
Recently, Bruins Stadium was completely refurbished, with the turf surface being redone, new track laid down and new equipment added.
In the springtime, Sticco added that many recreation programs will be in full swing, including t-ball, baseball, girls softball, boys and girls soccer and dance instruction.
Being that Secaucus is one of the largest towns in Hudson County, in land mass, it possesses one of the larger recreation/pool complexes in the county.
At a Nov. 25, 2003 meeting, the Town Council voted to introduce a $500,000 bond ordinance that will allow significant improvements to be made to the pool complex. No real work has been done on the pools for 30 years, other than upkeeping "Band-Aid"-type repairs.
As part of the plans, there is talk of constructing a state-of the-art children's pool at the complex. The complex will, according to Town Administrator Anthony Iacono, be getting a new slide. While the complex already has a diving pool, the slide could go a long way in increasing membership to the pool, which has been declining for years.
According to town officials, the bocci court located in Buchmuller Park will be rebuilt as well.
Also, after an agreement with New Jersey Transit was struck, two new ball fields will be constructed in the Millridge Road area. New Jersey Transit had bought two other pieces of land from the town and displaced two ball fields. This is part of their promise to relocate the fields.