Mile Square City, a puzzlement

Dear Editor: Hoboken is a remarkable city! Three years ago, a newcomer, when I wondered aloud whether it might be possible to mark the senior bus route with signs, the immediate reaction was: There are too many signs in Hoboken. It’s a puzzlement! At about the same time, when I asked why the traffic lights on Washington Street couldn’t be synchronized so that short, old people could cross more safely with lights easily seen, the reflex reaction was: They have been this way for 50 years. It’s a puzzlement! Perhaps those whose mission should be the well-being of all the city’s people, would come into the 21st century and install pedestrian crossing lights along with the large, dazzling yellow signs. It is a puzzlement that the vaunted mile square city, lacking mountains and deserts, needs gas-guzzling SUVs. It is a puzzlement that most of the Stop signs in the City are illegal. And what about the signs: Speed Checked by Radar? That a large building, housing offices of health care providers, has no handicap access, is a real puzzlement and when our remarkable city condemns private property, dispossesses residents to benefit a hospital and then finances the transportation of its citizen elsewhere for medical treatment is an even bigger puzzlement. When I asked whether something might be done about the pedestrian-hazardous broken, uneven and missing sidewalk sections, the answer was: It is very hard to get property owners to do anything about that. Church Square Park? Fines? Another puzzlement! The real character of the city is that it prefers to spend money “no matter whose” on pink pavers rather than on safe sidewalks and streets, reminding me of the line attributed to Marie Antoinette when told the peasants had no bread, “…let them eat cake!” On more than one occasion I asked why police were not deployed during commuting times at a couple of the city’s more difficult intersections. The answer from one of our leaders was: They don’t know how! Can’t they be taught? Another puzzlement! For me, possibly the saddest puzzlement is the concept that our city, which spends top dollar on allegedly the most qualified, highest paid, most experienced teaching staff, requires a fleet of yellow buses to transport students to and from school “otherwise they wouldn’t come.” Are the youngsters who go to charter schools transported to and from school with tax dollars? Perhaps a part of an inflated school budget would be better spent on seminars for both parents and staff to develop approaches to making education pleasurable and important. That this is not done is a major puzzlement. Spending money on buses to get bodies into school buildings so that the district can be reimbursed by the State in the name of education, is hardly the lesson we should want our youngsters to carry into adulthood. Or is it–to live by wits rather than by wisdom. Helen Hirsch


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