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Residents review plans for new uptown recreation field

City officials say the new field will be in place by mid-September.

By mid-September, Andrew Grosso's girls softball team is counting on two new places in Hoboken to practice underhand throws.

"We are forced right now to use any patch of grass we can find," said the coach and father of two.

Hoboken is moving forward on a project to complete a new recreation field on an uptown plot known as "1600 Park," located between the Willow and Park Avenue overpasses at 16th Street. The current design allows the space to be used as a full-sized, 120-yard soccer field or be divided into two small soccer fields, or two baseball (softball) fields.

The plans were unveiled at a community meeting at the Multi-Service Center Wednesday night where, despite the sweltering heat, about 25 residents came to review the drafts and speak with city officials. It was the second community gathering on the space after a majority of residents told officials at a January meeting that they would like to see it turned into a field for public recreation programs.

For Grosso and fellow Hoboken dad Tony Theodore, the new field will not just fulfill an urgent need for more open space in the city. Players of all ages will soon have an adequate place to practice their sports in the wake of the collapse of the Sinatra Drive soccer field in 2009.

"Do we need park space or do we need field space?" said Theodore, coach of Hoboken's traveling girls soccer team. "There's a difference."

Community Development Director Brandy Forbes said the city received $1.7 million in Green Acres funding to complete the design and construction of the field which will be done by September. While there is no set date, the city is beyond the terms of the grant and must provice status updates to assure the NJDEP of the progress.

But not all residents in attendance were pleased with the pace of the project.

Longtime resident Jim Kocis, a co-founder of the Hoboken Parks Organization, said he was disappointed that Wednesday's gathering was "not a concept meeting" to discuss options, but rather a presentation of a "fait accompli."

"My chief objection is I understand the urgency (for a field), but we need to do this carefully and slowly because it's going to be here for 100 years," he said.

Soon to be a father himself, Kocis said there should be more consideration for the field's geographic position on the Hoboken/Weehawken border and across from the Weehawken and Hoboken Coves. He also raised objections to a 4 to 6 foot retaining wall that will enclose the entire field, which he said would cut off the space from its surroundings.

Forbes said the retaining wall is necessary as part of the site's environmental remediation process to hold in a mandatory two-foot cap of fresh soil. The wall will also restrict the field to three access points to control pedestrian flow to safe exits.

The field will be closed at night to avoid vandalism, she added.

Having witnessed a verbal exchange between Kocis and Grosso during the meeting, Mayor Dawn Zimmer assured those in attendance that the city will be working to incorporate the new field with the surrounding area once it is complete.

One option, she said, would be to make use of the spaces beneath the overpasses and to advocate for the county to close down the portion of Park Avenue that runs adjacent to the field.

"The county right now is not open to closing down this road," she said.

Also in attendance at Wednesday's meeting was Council President Beth Mason, Human Services Director Leo Pellegrini, Transportation Director Ian Sacs, as well as members of the design team from engineering firm Remington & Vernick.

"This provides more of an opportunity for active recreation," said landscape architect Joseph Petrolongo who led the design team. "You're not bothering any residents. You're between the two viaducts and you have the beautiful waterfront."

Laurie Michelson June 09, 2011 at 10:40 AM
I love the idea and can't wait. Though September finish seems crazy it's still very exciting.
Vincent Andreula June 09, 2011 at 11:19 AM
Double check this site before doing this field both bridges have a rush hour the carbon from the cars buses trucks these children will be taking in deep because of the running someone should go down there and get a reading of the carbon might be better as a tree park to fight off the carbon
hobokenhorse.com June 09, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Get those fields up so the kids can build their memories. This town needs fields desperately for activities.
HobokenDad June 09, 2011 at 12:47 PM
A very good presentation by the design team they incorporated many of the ideas that were discussed at the January meeting. Having the field useable by the fall will be fill the urgent need and not losing a grant money to pay for much the construction is a responsible position. If we need to tweak or change the design later and tie it in when Hoboken Cove is developed we will have a good foundation to start with and everyone will have the use of space if and when those decisions can be made.
Redrider765 June 09, 2011 at 12:57 PM
Why would they need to close the access road? Why not just put in a walkway on top of the retaining wall for pedestrians? How complicated is that?
Sally Cannon June 09, 2011 at 03:00 PM
This could all be great, although from the bridge the field does not look level. I also like the idea of the walkway as I ride my bike a lot on that access road as I am sure others use it as well. How about the "playground" at the Boys and Girls Club? When is the city going to do something about that disgraceful lot? Tim? I pay a lot of taxes and would love for any lot to be fixed up. I think the county should put a waterpark in Columbus Park where the pathetic "shower" is outside the public bathrooms in that concrete area. It's underused square footage and if you build it, they will come!
Redrider765 June 09, 2011 at 03:17 PM
It isn't level. That is what the retaining wall will fix. They build a wall, fill in some dirt, level it out and plant sod for the fields. I think the Boys & Girls club bid went out in May (says the April update on the city website). No idea if it was awarded or not.
Hobbs June 09, 2011 at 06:41 PM
Finally turning 1600 Park into a real park ! More positive change for Hoboken. :-)
KenOn10 June 09, 2011 at 06:49 PM
Anyone know if the plans call for natural grass or astro turf? Growing grass on "remediated" land can be iffy. Sprinklers would be a must. Plus, 1600 Park is going to be heavily used. Even so, I hope grass is chosen...
Redrider765 June 09, 2011 at 06:50 PM
I hope grass too but not holding my breath.
Katie Colaneri June 09, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Ken, I was told last night the field will be covered with turf.
KenOn10 June 09, 2011 at 09:47 PM
How disappointing. Green Acres in color only.
Outofcontrol June 11, 2011 at 12:03 AM
More meetings...still no field.
Karen O'Shea August 03, 2011 at 12:24 PM
Vincent Andreula is absolutely correct in that a green space with trees, grass and flowers, would be the more feasible option for this space. Have you ever walked around in there during high traffic? Can't say that playing any sports in this plot between two major thoroughfares would be healthy.
Vincent Andreula August 03, 2011 at 01:02 PM
Would try to make a trade off with the W there land next to it for this site worth a shot
Karen O'Shea August 03, 2011 at 01:20 PM
Good suggestion, and what the hell is happening with the soccer field? oy vey
Karen O'Shea August 03, 2011 at 01:21 PM
LOLZ "This provides more of an opportunity for active recreation," said landscape architect Joseph Petrolongo who led the design team. "You're not bothering any residents. You're between the two viaducts and you have the beautiful waterfront." wonder if Joseph would care to have a game there with his kids?
Vincent Andreula August 03, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Tha's where it will go next to the W

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