Hoboken hosted its first public meeting on Thursday Nov. 30 in the Wallace School cafeteria to discuss the future of the Northwest Resiliency Park. The park presently exists in temporary form – with amenities including gas grills and a giant chessboard with pieces – but will someday be replaced by a permanent park.
The park is bounded by Adams and Madison streets and 12th and 13th streets.
Once completed, the new 6-acre park will be able to retain 1 million gallons of stormwater, about the equivalent of one and a half Olympic size pools.
During the meeting, project designer Richard Roark from OLIN discussed the data collected from residents on what they would like included in the park. He had received suggestions through an online survey and via information sessions hosted in parks and at community events.
“Smart design doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but through collective intelligence,” said Roark. “We want to hear from you.”
People have made suggestions relevant to landscaping, trees, active fields, an indoor pool, parking, and a recreational facility.
According to Roark, 750 people provided input on the park through an online survey. The majority of people who answered, Roark said, want to see passive space, trees, shade structures, seating, and restrooms.
“As you can see here they want amenities,” said Roark, who said the next largest group of responses included sports, event space, and landscaping.
Roark said the north lot space has the potential to include a five- or six-story building 150 feet wide and 200 feet long. The majority of people want to see an indoor recreation area, a restaurant, urban farming, and then parking or a library annex.
Originally marshland in the 1800s, this area of Hoboken was filled in and the site was occupied by a chemical plant from 1922 until 2004.
In 2004 the city’s master plan called for acquiring the space for parkland. Then in 2014 the city’s Green Infrastructure Strategic Plan and 2015 ReInvest Feasability Study identified the area for a flood management park.
In 2016 the site was purchased from chemical company BASF, which completed a site wide soil remediation and capped the lot with six inches of asphalt.
In July the city opened a temporary Pop-up Park on the site so that residents could use the area while the city underwent the planning process for the permanent Northwest Resiliency Park.
Hoboken resident Allen Kratz said he would like the park to have lots of green space as well as trees and ground vegetation.
As for the building on the northwest lot, Kratz said he would like to see a library annex, as he believes the library doesn’t have enough space.
Matt Majer, a resident of Hoboken for the past two years who lives near the park, said he would also like to see a lot of green space.
“Today the park has no green space,” said Majer. “It’s essentially an outdoor gym. I would like to see some landscaping, maybe some grassy hills and trees and paths to divide the space up like a small central park.”
He said as the park exists today, it’s “surprisingly used a lot. I always see people playing pickle ball or using the athletic stations, so I understand that maybe that should be incorporated too.”
He also said he would like a grassy pedestrian bridge to attach the park to the southwest lot so the space could still be used. It would be a continuous park and cars could still utilize the street underneath.
“As much as I want a passive space, it’s the last remaining place to have a large athletic field,” said southwest resident Lauren Sapira. “There is no baseball field for teenagers to play.”
Resident Tim Staub, who’s lived in Hoboken for two years, said he grew up on a farm and enjoys parks and green space, which is why he would like to see the park have a lot of green space.
He recommended a central green hill. He sees the entrance to the park as an open field lined with trees. He’d also like amphitheater for public performances and events, and a Little League field on the southwest lot.
“I like green space and having the ability to sit in nature,” said Staub.
Lifelong 2nd Ward resident Nora DeBenedetto said, “Because I live so close and I have long been annoyed with the lack of park space near me, I think it’s great that Hobokens greatest park will be located in my backyard. I have had to schlep to Pier A for movies under the stars too many times.”
“I live in an apartment, so I would like to have a park that’s basically a backyard where people can barbecue and just enjoy it,” DeBenedetto added.
Regarding the future building in the northwest, Majer said he would like to see a police department annex there, as the area is not well lit and there have been multiple package thefts in his neighborhood.
A few residents also wanted to see a restaurant or retail space on the ground level of the building to “activate” the park space, while others wanted to see such a business on the roof perhaps near a rooftop garden pool or urban farm.
The city’s chief sustainability officer, Jennifer Gonzalez, who has been spearheading the project, said the project team will compile all the data collected from the survey and public meeting in order to create several design concepts. They may be presented to the public in spring.
Once a final design is chosen, park construction is expected to begin in 2019.
You can provide input until Dec. 15, when the online survey officially closes. The survey can be found at http://nwpark-cityofhoboken.opendata.arcgis.com/.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at email@example.com.