The community of Hoboken gathered this past Tuesday, Oct. 10, for the first of many community outreach meetings hosted by the City of Hoboken. These meetings are part of an effort to give residents a voice in the future of the city and increase involvement in the reexamination of the Hoboken Master Plan. In the State of New Jersey, cities are required to reexamine their Master Plans at least every 10 years to promote new development and better allocate city resources and planning. The City of Hoboken has paired up with BFJ Planning, a consulting firm that provides professional expertise in city planning and urban design, to create an ideal Master Plan and to identify locations of development for Hoboken. Like in many city planning expansions, BFJ sees community outreach, such as brainstorming sessions, is the most vital part in creating plans that reflect the needs of a community and its visions of the future.
The last time the City of Hoboken sat down to reexamine the Master Plan, created in 2004, was in 2010. Some of the major themes in the 2010 reexamination included expanding transportation, developing parks, and promoting economic development. These themes have been the pushing point in creating many aspects that make Hoboken what it is now, such as Pier A and the development of the northwest corner of Hoboken. Although many of these productive ideas came out of the 2010 reexamined Master Plan, they have not kept up with the growing city Hoboken has become or the harsh weather Hoboken has received. To put this into perspective, the reevaluation of 2010 showed hints of economic fear caused by the 2007 recession and residents had not yet felt the destruction that was brought on by Hurricane Sandy. Since then, the Master Plan has not reflected the City of Hoboken’s goals to become more resilient and environmentally-friendly as well as its desire to evolve economically.
Many of the residents present at the Tuesday meeting have seen the town evolve from a hipster artistic village to a young crowded city, and many of their goals were to maintain the character of Hoboken while also inviting and accommodating charismatic diversity. The main themes brought on by BFJ representatives included transportation, economic development, passive park development, and the quality of housing. Each theme had a brainstorming group which discussed aspects that Hoboken does well and what can be changed in the reexamination of the Master Plan.
It was found that there was an overwhelming consensus to make Hoboken a more walkable and bike-friendly city. This would mean the implementation of pedestrian crossing countdown clocks, creating more bike lanes, and teaching residents that having a car in Hoboken is not a necessary means of life. It was also found that many residents see potential in inviting those with different lifestyles, such as diversifying housing choices and creating spaces for businesses for shared workspaces, like WeWork.
What did the Hoboken community say about Stevens? Many attendees of the meeting mentioned that the best park in Hoboken was the Stevens Campus with sloped lawns and large trees, and some voiced ideas of technology-oriented partnerships and business to further expand the economy of Hoboken.
Although community outreach is a vital part of city planning, many attendees pointed out that not enough of the demographics of Hoboken were represented at the Tuesday meeting. BFJ representatives acknowledge this and hope that more meetings and surveys will help reach the whole Hoboken community before the final Master Plan is released in April 2018.
To learn more about the reexamination of the 2004 Master Plan of Hoboken and receive meeting updates, visit www.hobokennj.gov/masterplan/.