Hoboken moves to expand Southwest Resiliency Park

City and Academy Bus to enter settlement agreement

A roughly one-acre property on Harrison Street owned by Academy Bus will double the size of the Southwest Resiliency Park.
A roughly one-acre property on Harrison Street owned by Academy Bus will double the size of the Southwest Resiliency Park.

The Hoboken City Council has introduced two ordinances that could double the size of the Southwest Resiliency Park at 58 Jackson St.

The city has long sought to expand the one-acre park that helps mitigate flooding by detaining 200,000 gallons of storm water runoff. The city has eyed the property owned by Academy Bus, a parking lot known as Block 10 on the tax map, that sits to the west of the park.

For years Academy Bus and the city have disputed the price of the land resulting in the launch of marketing campaigns, dueling appraisals, eminent domain legal proceedings, and lengthy negotiations.

The council adopted a resolution approving a settlement agreement between the city and Academy Bus that will bring the battle to an end.

Under the agreement, Hoboken will purchase the lot for $11 million, which will be funded by $900,000 of grant funding from Hudson County’s Open Space Trust Fund, $1 million of grant funding from Green Acres, and the rest from the city’s Open Space Trust Fund, which is money collected from taxes dedicated to the acquisition and development of open space.

In exchange, Academy will be allowed to add an additional 25 units, including five affordable housing units, to the existing permitted density on land adjacent to the park, but the permitted height and bulk of the residential property would not be increased as part of the agreement, according to the city.

‘It’s been a long road’

The council unanimously introduced two ordinances, which would make the acquisition possible.

The first is a bond ordinance for $8.1 million for supplemental funding of the acquisition of the land. The second authorizes the city to enter into a purchase and sale agreement with the property owners for the purchase price of $11 million.

At the same meeting,  the council adopted a resolution awarding a contract to Kimley Horn and Associates for designing and engineering a temporary popup park for the site for $17,500.

According to council documents, Kimly Horn and Associates will prepare preliminary design plans, specifications, and cost estimates, for a temporary popup park using equipment from the Northwest popup park.

The popup park will allow residents to start using the space while the city works with the community on the final design.

According to Council President Ruben Ramos, Academy has already prepared the property for the city to move in.

“I’m extremely excited to add Block 10 for the expansion of the Southwest Resiliency Park,” Ramos said. “It has been a long road, but the park will serve as the centerpiece for the continuing revitalization of Southwest Hoboken. We will be working to have the space available for use as a popup park for the summer and also working with the public as to what will be included in the final design.”

“After many months of negotiating with Academy, I’m pleased we have come to an agreement that will finally double the size of our Southwest Resiliency Park,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “This agreement not only paves the way to create more open space in our neighborhood, but also does so without trading massive residential density rights. I look forward to working with the community on the design of this park, while providing immediate benefits to the neighborhood with a popup park this summer.”

In the coming weeks, the city will host a community meeting to solicit feedback and discuss the land acquisition and potential uses of a pop-up park, according to the city.

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.