What a year 2018 has been… when I reflect on the year the word that most comes to mind is “intense”. In the biggest small town in America, our Hoboken, there was so much going on all the time that required so much energy from so many. And although we accomplished a lot, we still have more as we look ahead to 2019.
Looking back at the many updates I sent to you (all 81 listed with links below in case you missed any!), I am reminded how strongly I feel that you be informed on issues that are important to you. It was an imperfect effort that could have included even more. And as we bring this year to a close I wanted you to know of some of my other efforts that haven’t made the updates but I believe are important to our community:
- Through the Finance and Infrastructure subcommittee that I chair, I have been leading our efforts with the administration to restructure our water contracts so that Hoboken can better invest in our water infrastructure; soon we hope to announce a new partnership that will be a material improvement to both our current contracts and what was recently proposed in 2017.
- Recognizing our need for better managed large scale projects with less disruption to our quality of life, I pushed hard this year for the administration to hire an experienced city engineer and project manager (who were hired last spring) to help us navigate the completion of the Washington St. project and to establish a process to ensure all large scale projects – public and private - will be managed in the best way possible going forward.
- Since I was elected, I have all but begged that Hoboken stop being the underdog in real estate negotiations. This year I co-sponsored legislation and approved contracts for experienced real estate professionals to advise the city to ensure that Hoboken gets a fair deal on all real estate plans and projects; this allowed the mayor and the City Council to secure significant community givebacks on the recently approved Hilton Hotel.
- Sharing our common view that we want to see our biggest small town of Hoboken thrive, I have repeatedly proposed economic development initiatives to help support local businesses that have been devastated by the Washington St. Project including the recent seasonal actions of discounted and validated parking and the Saturday Shop Hop and establishing a Special Improvement District; the latter for which I am the City Council representative on a steering committee with local business and commercial property owners.
- With the goal of keeping taxes flat, I actively collaborated with the entire City Council and the administration to reallocate funding to ensure sufficient amounts for previously underfunded areas important to our community such as pedestrian safety, street repairs, infrastructure investment, and Historic Preservation.
- Finally, although an area I have been least impactful so far, I have repeatedly requested that the City improve its communications on important issues –I recently voted against the various parking rate increases primarily because there was no communications nor roll out plan for something that arguably impacts all residents of and visitors to Hoboken.
As we look ahead, the priorities that we set together in 2018 still apply and although we made some progress, will continue in 2019 including, among others: completing the Washington St. project, making our intersections safer, fixing our infrastructure, minimizing the displacement of long term residents, making sure development works for Hoboken, finishing Rebuild By Design to make Hoboken resilient to flooding, ensuring fiscal responsibility, fighting to protect our waterfront and our quality of life, and improving public transportation.
As one of your elected representatives, I touch all of these issues in different ways whether through one of the council subcommittees I am on, as a loud advocate in certain instances, and/or as a voting member on the City Council. But I rely on and appreciate your continued engagement feedback for my advocacy.
What did I learn from you this year from all of your feedback? Well, a lot actually....
I learned that fixing our infrastructure is still hands down the #1 issue and that you have a preference to keep Suez as our partner. Tied for the #1 spot is an increased concern about pedestrian safety – specifically at intersections. You want more enforcement and a better solution. Right up there was the growing frustration with public transportation that is at our close to capacity and the increasing traffic congestion and the significant, negative impact on your quality of life.
On other issues where I solicited your feedback, I learned that you overwhelmingly supported and are excited about having a new hotel in Hoboken. And with similar enthusiasm you believe Stevens Institute is one of Hoboken’s best neighbors and assets. Most of you think medical marijuana is ok if sold in areas other than residential ones, but almost 2/3 of you are against recreational marijuana being sold in Hoboken at all (I still owe you the specific results). And on an issue that has been important to me for a while, and one that I have been a strong and vocal advocate for both UDD and Monarch, you reconfirmed what I already knew which is that Hoboken continues to overwhelmingly want to protect its waterfront and keep it for the public.
Towards the end of 2018 I was reminded how passionate you all are by the record setting numbers who voted in this year’s election and that something as small as an “I Voted” sticker can make voting the uplifting experience it should be. And although I missed them, I saw how something as simple as a brief sighting of the Budweiser Clydesdales can bring a smile to everyone’s face, regardless of our frustrations or our differences.
But most of all I was reminded, daily, that in our Hoboken, we agree on most important issues, and that when we don’t, it is because of our own unique experiences which makes the debate only better.
Thank you all for your more voices (which are always better) and all of your support, guidance, and engagement in making our special community better every day. Happy New Year to you and yours! I very much look forward to Engaging with, Informing and Advocating for you in 2019.