Hoboken Councilman Cohen’s Latest Newsletter Addresses Shop-Rite Park, Nixle & Stevens Sports Venues

Dear Neighbor,

Happy Juneteenth! Here is an update on the latest happenings in Hoboken.

Upgrades to Shop-Rite Park at 11th and Madison 

Thanks to Shop-Rite for working with me, the Department of Environmental Services, and Councilmember Emily Jabbour in an ongoing dialogue over the last few years addressing concerns to better maintain its property. In response to our engagement, the City has added additional municipal waste receptacles in the neighborhood and Shop-Rite’s property managers have modified their daily maintenance schedulesreduced using paper circulars on-site, and regularly deployed staff to collect trash and blown debris on its grounds.

So, it was good to see last week that Shop-Rite, in response to our recent concerns about the park lawn at 11th and Madison, has freshly sodded the park lawn and fixed its lawn sprinkler system to better maintain the park. 

Stevens Shares its Pool  and Tennis  Courts with Hoboken Residents

Hoboken residents who are fully vaccinated and boosted can use Stevens Institute’sbeautiful indoor swimming pool facility and tennis courts after a new partnership between Mayor Bhalla and Stevens Institute of Technology President Nariman Farvardin was unanimously approved by the City Council. Residents can access four tennis courts for free and Stevens’ swimming pool, for a fee, year-round.

Hoboken residents must first register here. The form will then be processed by the City with an approval email from the City first before residents can register with Stevens here. Residents then will be notified when and where to pick up their Stevens ID.

Registered residents will have access to the tennis  courts on the northern end of the campus from 9 am to 8 pm seven days a week from June 6 thru August 28.

Residents also will be able to visit the swimming ‍♀️ pool in Schaefer Athletic Center for a fee.  Summer hours are Monday – Friday from 8 am to 9 pm, and Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm until August 31. In addition to year-round pool access, residents can purchase daily, weekly, or monthly memberships when registering. The Pool Fee is $20 for one day, $35 for two weeks, or $55 monthly. Seniors’ Discounted Rates are $15 per day, $25 for two weeks, or $35 per month.

More information about Hoboken’s new Stevens swimming and tennis programs can be found here.

Nixle Privacy Survey

In a recent Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) litigated matter, a Hoboken resident sued the City to compel the City to disclose the email addresses of everyone who has signed up to receive the City’s Nixle alerts. The City strongly objected based on privacy grounds and informed the Court that neither the City nor Nixle (also known as Everbridge) has ever provided email addresses or personal information submitted to Nixle to any third party.

Individuals who sign up for the City’s Nixle alert email system, which is intended to share emergency notifications and governmental news updates, are informed that their information will not be shared, as the City’s website states: “Your information is not shared with the City of Hoboken and you may unsubscribe at any time.

A court ruled against Hoboken ordering the City and two other New Jersey municipalities to disclose personal email information submitted to Nixle to the OPRA requesters. The City has launched a brief online survey to ask whether you, as a Hoboken Nixle subscriber, think your private email information should be protected and whether you believe the City should appeal the lower court’s decision requiring Hoboken to provide users’ personal email information submitted to Nixle. As of Wednesday, 1,419 people have responded and 93% of respondents expected their emails would be maintained privately when they signed up for Nixle and 96% percent of respondents said they believe the City should appeal the judge’s decision requiring the release of email addresses to anyone requesting it.

I believe the City should appeal this decision as it goes against residents’ expectation of privacy when they signed up to receive Nixle Alerts. Releasing this information can expose subscribers to an annoying barrage of marketers and, more importantly, fraudsters. With my Council colleagues, I approved a resolution (page 475) Wednesday evening supporting the City’s appealing the court decision. I believe the City should continue to fight to protect Nixle users’ personal data from unauthorized disclosure. Please let the City know your thoughts about whether you wish to keep your Nixle email contact private by taking the brief online survey, which closes June 22nd.

Hoboken Municipal Budget

At an April City Council meeting, Business Administrator Jason Freeman presented the Administration’s proposed municipal budget. A copy of this presentation is available for your review here.

With the Hudson County budget released last week, along with the budgets of the School Board and Library, Hoboken’s combined overall tax rate would increase by about 1.2%. This is good news for Hoboken taxpayers in the face of a challenging economic environment, reflecting a $6 per month raise in the tax bill on the property with an average assessment of $525,000. If adopted by the Council – as presented by the Administration — this modest increase would remain significantly lower than the current rate of inflation and the Consumer Price Index, and Hoboken’s municipal assessment would become the lowest average tax levy in Hudson County.

In May, I and other members of the Finance Committee presided over a series of budget hearings where we heard from Directors and leaders of the Departments of City Government and worked to better understand the departments’ budgets and identify potential areas of cost savings. You can watch those hearings here. We learned that absorbing a number of newly settled contracts for City workers, increasing costs of healthcare, and inflation’s impact has created a challenging fiscal year for the City. The work of the Finance Committee is ongoing and we have already identified hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings for taxpayers. We hope to finalize a budget for a final vote in the coming weeks.

Some of my Council colleagues have proposed amendments to the budget I do not support.  For example, we have seen proposals to eliminate our Public Safety Director, Kenneth Ferrante, our Office of Constituent Affairs, Housing Division Chief Vanessa Falco, and unspecified staff members in the Department of Environmental Services and the Office of Corporation Counsel. These individuals and the services they provide reflect important investments in quality-of-life initiatives for our residents including helping residents maintain affordable housing, assisting residents with a broad array of concerns on a daily basis, increasing efficiencies and collaboration between Police, Fire, the Office of Emergency Management and the Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and doing in-house what it would cost law firms much more to do. Cutting these positions would represent relatively small savings, but their impact would significantly diminish the City’s ability to maintain vital services. You can read media coverage of the Finance Committee Members’ reactions to my colleagues’ proposed budget amendments here.

Summer Schedule for Free Concerts/Fitness/Movies in The Park!

Throughout the summer months, the City is hosting free concerts, movies, and fitness classes in the park. Residents can take part in free summer activities as part of the City’s Summer Fun initiative, which includes the popular Movies Under the Stars program.

This year, Fitness in the Park, a series of free classes hosted by local fitness studios in City parks will be held at Pier A Park, 7th & Jackson Resiliency Park, Southwest Park, Southwest Pop-Up Park, and under the Viaduct.

The Concerts in the Park series kicked off Monday night with the Fuzzy Lemons in the Southwest Park and will run on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays all summer long. Concerts will be held at the Southwest Park on Mondays, Shipyard Park on Tuesdays, and Sinatra Park on Thursdays.

Movies Under the Stars kicked off on Wednesday at Pier A Park at 9 pm with Jumanji: the Next Level and will run throughout the summer on Pier A Park and the 7th and Jackson Park on certain Wednesday evenings.

Information on the schedules (subject to change due to weather) for all events is available through this link. For more information or questions, email Geri Fallo at gfallo@hobokennj.gov.

Welcome to the 5th Ward, Mojo Coffee!

 We have a new neighbor at Bloomfield and 8th Streets!

Although Mojo Coffee ️ opened its doors only last Thursday, it has already become a popular neighborhood fixture. If you haven’t stopped by, check out how the owners have transformed a dry-cleaning store into a charming neighborhood meeting place. Welcome, Mojo Coffee!

COVID-19 Updates 

As of June 12th, Hoboken’s positive test results total 12,214 cases confirmed since the start of the pandemic. Two weeks ago, there were 11,888 positive cases.

New Jersey’s transmission rate is presently at 0.89. Please stay vigilant, practice social distancing when necessary, wash your hands, and stay safe.

HUMC is now hospitalizing 4 people with COVID, 1 of whom is a Hoboken resident. If you have any reason to believe you have been exposed to COVID, please quarantine and then schedule an appointment for a COVID test 5-7 days for those fully vaccinated and immediately for those unvaccinated after potential exposure. To find out when you should get tested, click here.

COVID Testing Updates

To get the current Hoboken COVID testing and hours click here.

Testing for Hoboken Residents and Business Employees:

605 Jackson Street (Administered by Medicine Man)

Date: Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Time: 8am – 12pm

Location: 605 Jackson Street

Type of testing: PCR

Who: Hoboken residents, Hoboken business employees

Link for appointments: http://www.hobokennj.gov/testing

At-home testing

The NJ Department of Health and Vault Medical Services is offering free, at-home COVID-19 saliva test kits. To order your kit go to learn.vaulthealth.com/nj. I ordered four free test kits from the federal government for my family, and you can order yours at https://www.covidtests.gov/.

COVID Vaccination News 

To get current information on Hoboken vaccinations and clinic schedules click here.

Testing for Hoboken Residents, Business Employees, and Students:

605 Jackson Street (Administered by Medicine Man)

Date: Tuesday

Time: 4pm – 7pm

Location: 605 Jackson Street

Type of vaccine: Pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 booster, Pfizer and Moderna second booster

Who: Hoboken residents, Hoboken business employees, Hoboken students

Ages: 5-11 (pediatric Pfizer booster), 50 + (Pfizer or Moderna second booster)

Link for appointments: https://www.hobokennj.gov/vaccine

If you are a Hoboken resident and would like a copy of your vaccination record, please contact LMedeiros@hobokennj.gov. Vaccination records are also accessible for all New Jersey residents through the Docket app.

Coffee with Cohen  . . .  the home edition

Last year, to practice social distancing, rather than eliminate my monthly Coffee with Cohen events, I turned to the internet. For my 58th Coffee with Cohen event, on Wednesday I hosted special guests Liz Schedl, Executive Director of the Hudson Pride 🏳️‍Center and Sam LaRoche, Organizer of the upcoming June 25th Hoboken Family Pride March.

We discussed the Hudson Pride Center and the local LGBTQ+ community, upcoming Pride events in Hoboken and Hudson County, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill introduced in the New Jersey legislature, Hoboken’s policies that have earned it a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, and much more. I also addressed your questions about the City addressing commercial marketers that drop plastic bags with circulars on stoops. Over 133 people have already watched this event and you can check it out here.

My next Coffee with Cohen event will be in two weeks and I am planning a return to a live, in-person format — stay tuned for detailsDo you have a question? Send it to HobokenPhil@gmail.com as I try to address each one. Many of my past events are hosted on my Facebook page Philcohenforcouncil and you can watch them here.

You can always follow me on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram. If you have any questions or concerns, or if I can be of assistance to you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact me at HobokenPhil@gmail.com.

Phil Cohen

Hoboken City Councilman

Hoboken, New Jersey

HobokenPhil@gmail.com

(862) 234-9053

P.S. You can learn more about me and my ideas for Hoboken (as well as read this newsletter and prior newsletters) on my website philcohen.org.

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