Local pocket park could get overhaul

Hoboken councilman aims to make corner park more accessible to the public through developer investment

Councilman Michael DeFusco says he has secured a $500,000 pledge from a local developer that may be spent on redesigning a 1st Ward park.

According to the councilman, the pocket park near Garden Street and Newark Street could be revitalized to allow for more public access, with coffee vendor kiosks and more.

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“Since first moving to Hoboken, I’ve always believed there was a more appropriate way of activating park space for the neighborhood, one that isn’t locked off from the community and is more inviting and enticing to residents,” said DeFusco.

“I’ve long envisioned this underutilized space as a place where residents can not only enjoy much needed green space, while also creating an attractive neighborhood destination. The plan I’ve proposed will accomplish this by creating a coffee kiosk to create a place where residents can enjoy a peaceful day in the park, while supporting a local business.”

The future of the park has been the topic of conversation between Councilman DeFusco, who chairs the Southern Development Committee, and Equity Apartments, the owners of the property where the limited access park is located.

According to the councilman, all parties have agreed to a more favorable access agreement for residents to enjoy the park.

To see this vision through and rehabilitate the space, Councilman DeFusco said he secured a commitment of $500,000 from 83 Willow Ave. Apartments LLC which has proposed a redevelopment plan in the area.

Specifically, 83 Willow Ave Apartments LLC seeks to amend the city’s Public Works Garage Site Redevelopment so that it can construct 42 residential units in an 11 story building with commercial on the ground level on lots behind the public works garage according to a November memo from the director of community developer to the council.

Councilman DeFusco said it’s now up to Mayor Ravi Bhalla to add the new community benefit in the redevelopment agreement as the mayor has already begun negotiations.

“Hoboken has spent decades investing millions of dollars in open space, but unfortunately under Mayor Bhalla’s administration, we have borrowed nearly $100 million on the backs of taxpayers to build new parks, while existing ones go under maintenanced,” said DeFusco.

“Reaching a favorable access agreement like this is the kind of thoughtful negotiations our city needs to prioritize given the nearly 10 percent municipal tax increase proposed by the mayor. I’m excited to work with Mayor Bhalla collaboratively and constructively to see this process through, but firmly believe that any development must give back to the neighborhood and add improvements to the quality of life in the community he is proposing to impact.”

According to city spokesperson Vijay Chaudhuri, the mayor is considering adding the giveback to the redevelopment agreement.

“Mayor Bhalla is happy to consider the park as a part of the proposed community givebacks in the redevelopment agreement proposed by his administration, and looks forward to the council adopting the plan,” he said.

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.

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