The year 2001 marks my 20th in Hoboken. Having spent more than half my life here, I consider this to be my hometown. I watched buildings go up in flames, learned to cook Italian food properly, moved my mom here when my father died, bought and sold a condo, voted in every election, fought for sane development, played softball for Redheads, renovated two brownstones, met my husband and had my first child here. So, I’d like to proffer some unsolicited advice about how we can improve our lives in my hometown.
DEVELOPMENT — There should be a two-year moratorium on any new development that would house or employ more than 10 people. We cannot and should not assess the effects of all the new construction until people and businesses have moved in. Anybody can hire an expert to tell us what he or she thinks things are going to be like, but it’s theory. Reality is sitting on an overcrowded bus in Lincoln Tunnel traffic for 45 minutes, when the trip used to take 10.
The strain on city services is only conjecture at this point, but think about it. Mail needs to be delivered to thousands of new residents and businesses. Garbage picked up. Potholes filled. Toilets flushed. Cable and telephones installed. Children educated. Furniture delivered. Commuters shuttled across the river. And then, of course, there’s the cars. Now I’m no accountant but the financial toll that all this development will eventually have on services has to be more than the taxes (discounted or otherwise), collected from developers. So doesn’t it cost us all more to have more people here?
So rather than endless zoning board meetings and bad blood bubbling up every month, stop the building altogether for two years. If it’s a great idea now to build some 140-unit condo/rental/dormitory, then it should also be in 2003. By the way, The Pier and 1600 Park construction would mercifully fall under this cease-fire and should be immediately turned into dog runs for the time being.
PARKING– I believe that if you want a car in the city and you are not willing to pay the exorbitant price to park it in a lot, stop complaining. Cities by their very nature were not designed to accommodate cars, (or dogs for that matter). If you wanted a parking space, you should have considered a lovely center hall Colonial in Maplewood, complete with driveway. But here, we don’t have driveways, we have mass transportation.
Still, people will continue to have both dogs and cars, so paint lines on all the streets marking off spots, so we maximize available places and alleviate the heartbreaking half a spot in front of a car, half a spot in the back issue. Or, give everyone who owns a single-family house and who pays the lion’s share of property taxes here, one spot in front of their house. One house, one spot. Revolutionary, yes. Buy at least people would finally feel like their tax dollars were well spent.
If you are not a resident (then you’re probably not reading this) and do not have a visitor’s pass, the parking authority should chalk mark your car tire to determine how long it’s been parked, then if it’s more than six hours, tow it and charge a huge fine, so you don’t do it ever again.
Now double-parking. The police are doing an excellent job sweeping the streets of double parkers. Thank you. There are times, however, when deliveries must be made to homes or workmen need to park in front of houses. Or you just have to bring in the groceries. As a motorist, this is not a reason to lean on your horn. Work your aggressions out in the gym, not on my block. Just put your hazards on. Pull behind the double parker. Get out of your car and knock on the door of the suspected house. It’s congenial, effective and a whole lot quieter. On the other hand, if you double park and you hear honking outside, they are honking for you. Stop what you are doing and move your car. It’s congenial effective and a whole lot quieter.
DRUNKS– If you are out for a night of drinking and trolling for love in the bars of Hoboken, you probably don’t care very much about us old married folk with families, but here goes anyway. If it’s 2 a.m. and you are drunk, and walking down my street, take a look around. Do you see any lights on? No? That means we are all asleep. Please refrain from shouting out the name of sports teams, your boyfriend, your ex-boyfriend or the first few lines of your favorite song. Your merriment is rude, selfish and terribly unoriginal. Better yet, shout out your address, so my three month old and I can come over to your house at 7 a.m. the next morning and he can cry loudly into your hung over ears.
CHILDREN– I love that so many of my friends are staying in Hoboken to raise their families. So, let’s try to make Hoboken more kid friendly. Pregnant women need to sit down on buses or the PATH. All you big strong men and women who work out relentlessly surely have the muscles in your lower body to stand for the 15 to 20 minute commute. We are not invisible, so stop pretending that we are and stand up and offer us your seat. Your wife, sister or girlfriend could be among us any day.
If you see one of us struggling with our strollers trying to get into a store, why not take the minute to stop and hold open the door for us?
Now a word about strollers and cars. Since the dawn of time, pedestrians have had the right of way. The fact that so few drivers choose to obey this law doesn’t make it any less true. The five additional seconds it takes for you to wait for me to cross the street with my son in his stroller is not an undue burden upon you. In fact, try counting to five the next time you have to wait for one of us to cross the street. One Mississippi, etc. See that wasn’t so bad at all.
A stop sign is one of life’s more unambiguous symbols. It means stop. Apply your brakes until the car ceases to move. Now look both ways. One way has traffic, but the other way could be me, again with my son in a stroller trying to get across the street. Don’t try to pretend you don’t see us. We’re the ones yelling, “hey idiot, stop sign.”
PLAYGROUNDS when I was a kid had summer programs. My sister was counselor at one when she was 16 years old. We learned to play knock hockey, make lanyards, whistle through our teeth and get along with kids we didn’t see during the school year. Maybe the town could develop a similar program, hiring high school kids to watch over the kids who look up to them. And while I like the movies shown outside in the summer, the kids’ movies are shown past my nephews’ bedtime.
And finally, thank the people who do your shirts, cross your children at intersections, protect your streets and homes, bring you your mail, collect your garbage, etc. These folks are hard-working individuals, not invisible servants.
My family and I are not going anywhere. This is our home. It’s yours too. Respect it, care for it and fight for the kind of life we all deserve.