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Hoboken plans short-term improvements to Monarch site

Hoboken is planning on installing a paver walkway at the Monarch site. Screenshot via City of Hoboken.

The city of Hoboken plans to make short-term improvements for the newly-acquired Monarch site on Pier 15 on the waterfront, to provide pedestrian access, safety and security.

The site in the northeast corner of the city was acquired by the city with the ultimate goal of turning it into public open space after a land swap agreement with Ironstate Developers last fall. For the time being, the plan for short-term improvements includes a new paver walkway and fencing, as well as debris removal and cleanup of the existing gravel surface of the site.

The asphalt walkway along Frank Sinatra Drive and Shipyard Lane will be replaced with a paved walkway that resembles the remainder of the waterfront walkway. The walkway will be about 20 feet wide at the south end of the walkway and will stretch up to about 43 feet as it reaches towards the Hudson Tea Buildings in the north.

The fencing on the east side of the walkway will be replaced and the fencing along Frank Sinatra Drive will be upgraded for security and safety purposes. The city will also install two trees and a streetlight along the west side of the walkway, and keep the guardrail for traffic safety.

Environmental Services Director Jennifer Gonzalez said that the city is currently in the final design stages of the project. Bidding for the work will commence in May, and the city may potentially award a contract in June and complete construction in July.

“We think this is a very short construction project,” she said during the presentation. “All of this could go even faster, assuming that our permits are expedited or reviewed in a timely fashion. So I think this timeline is conservative.”

An overview of the short-term plans for the Monarch site. Screenshot via City of Hoboken.

When asked about the financial impacts of the project, Meredith Hayes from the consulting firm GZA said that they are preparing a cost estimate but have not completed it yet. Gonzalez also said that they have a variety of ways to fund it, including funds from the settlement agreement, their most recent multi-purpose capital improvement bond for parks, or the Open Space Trust Fund.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, whose 2nd Ward includes the Monarch site, said that she reached out to the city to create a walkway for better pedestrian and cyclist access while they take more time to plan the rest of the site. “This is exactly what I advocated for, and I couldn’t be more excited,” she said.

In regards to long-term park development for the site, the city is looking to begin planning and design this fall. “We plan to undertake a visioning and community iterative design process,” said Gonzalez.

Fisher said while the surface lot of the site is the main focus of the next planning stage, she also talked about the the more natural pier area, which she said would be more costly to make into a park.

“Quite honestly, no one in our neighborhood wants that to be a park,” she said. “Everyone in our neighborhood wants that to be left as a natural preserve, and maybe make it accessible, so you can walk out into the natural area and have it be a lookout point, but not do really anything meaningful on that area.”

She said that a number of residents had sent out a survey just before Christmas, where out of over 900 people responding, a majority of them wants to preserve it as natural space.

“We’re gonna take that feedback and fold it into the city’s process,” she said. “Hopefully the plans for that more natural pier and platform area is really more about ecological preservation than it is restoration.”

For more details about the project, visit www.hobokennj.gov/resources/former-monarch-site-improvements.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.

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