The transformative Hoboken Square redevelopment plan, the new 20 mph citywide speed limit, and the municipality’s 2022 budget received approval from the Hoboken City Council at an influential meeting Wednesday.
Each paves the way for waves of activity in the city. The development is closer than ever to its launch around Hoboken Station. New signage and speed enforcement will enhance pedestrian safety. Taxes will rise, although not as much as originally planned.
Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Agreement
The agreement was passed unanimously which paved the way for a dramatic regeneration of the area in and around Hoboken Train Station.
The Hoboken Yard redevelopment agreement or “Hoboken Connect” project includes a two-level yard on the border of the ferry terminal and river, a remodeled bus terminal and a passenger drop-off area, Public spaces for events or business within the building and the new flagship development skyward – a 20-storey office building and a 28-storey apartment building.
The state, which has earmarked $176 million for the project in its new budget, celebrated the vote Thursday morning.
“The governor and I are proud of the redevelopment in Hoboken and the economic benefits it brings,” Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, Acting Governor, said while Phil Murphy is out of the country. The Murphy administration is focused on strengthening our nation from the inside out. We look forward to all the benefits that the redevelopment project will bring to the Hoboken community and the wider region. “
Developer LCOR embarked on the project years ago and encountered speed bumps along the way, including the latest federal plans for a Rebuild By Design flood wall in the perimeter of the project, forcing the plan to be reimagined and scaled back, and then, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.
By the end of the long process, it was clear that both the Bhalla management and the city council were united in the belief that the project was ready to go and a critical project for the city.
“I am thrilled that we have finally come to this agreement,” said Councilwoman Tiffany Fisher.
The city council adopted its new municipal budget with a 2.5% tax increase, and a 2.1% reduction from Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s initial proposal in April.
Emily Jabbour, chair of the financial subcommittee, said the new budget was achieved primarily through surplus cuts, group healthcare costs, miscellaneous cuts and additions to revenue.
“In light of the continuing economic conditions of the residents, I think this is very considerate of the desire to ensure that we have a balance between respecting our residents as well as ensuring that city services are not harmed,” Jabbour said.
Jabbour said the budgeted surplus fell from $10 million to $9 million, which is still higher than last year’s surplus. She said the group health care set aside was reduced by $550,000 and other miscellaneous reductions were added to about $300,000.
Jabbour said the increase in budgeted revenues is about $250,000.
Jabbour said the budget also meets requests from several council members: $25,000 for an arts master plan requested by Council member Jane Giatino, requesting funds to study a redevelopment of a multi-service center Council Member Robin Ramos has requested and to hire a social worker dedicated to serving the homeless population of Hoboken.
All Council members present except for Council President Michael Russo and Fisher voted in favor of the budget amendments and adoption of the budget.
Fisher has requested $15,000 in the budget for additional funding for senior services. It appeared to have been agreed verbally, but did not enter into the amended version in writing.
Assistant Business Director Caleb Stratton said the administration will still determine the funding after the budget is approved.
New speed limit
Hoboken will soon have a citywide speed limit of 20 mph and an educational and enforcement strategy to accompany it.
The measure was unanimously passed by the city council, a cornerstone of the city’s Vision Zero traffic fatality prevention initiative.
Soon, new signs that announce city-wide speed limits and alert drivers to their current speed on roads entering the city will be installed.
The city plans to increase traffic enforcement Ken Ferrante, director of public safety, said he has slowed during the pandemic due to health concerns.
He added that speeding fines increased by an average of 10 miles per hour, so drivers who speed within the 30 miles per hour range will now see expensive tickets in the city, he said. The city said the speed limit will be fully enforced once the new signage and sidewalk markings are in place.
Previously, most Hoboken had a speed limit of 25 mph.
“Although it may take an extra minute or two to travel through Hoboken in a car, that extra time could end up saving the life of a child or an elderly citizen,” Bhalla said. “As a father of two children walking our streets every day, the trade-off is definitely worth it and is our latest effort to eliminate all traffic-related injuries by 2030.”