Put it in Hoboken? Freeholder seeks commitment for county arts high school

In attempting to fulfill a dream he has had for years, Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons is seeking support for the county purchase of the building currently being used as Hoboken High School. That building will be decommissioned when the Hoboken schools build a middle school/high school complex in a few years. “I’ve been talking to the county executive and others,” Fitzgibbons said.

Last year, Frank Gargulo, superintendent of the Hudson County technical schools, proposed the construction of a new county school on county property located at the southern tip of Secaucus. This would be adjacent to the existing county park there, and would be near the newly opened Secaucus rail transfer station.

Fitizgibbons, who represents Hoboken and Jersey City Heights, has been seeking an alternative that would make use of Hoboken High for a county arts school.

“What I would like to see is Hoboken High turned into the county’s school for technical arts and sciences,” Fitzgibbons said. “I know that there is a push to have something built in Secaucus. But I feel that it is not the right place.”

Although construction of rail bridges is currently underway that would make the Secaucus site more accessible to students from around the county, Fitzgibbons said the Hoboken site will still provide better access and would not fill up limited open space.

“Why should we give up open space to build a high school in Secaucus when we already have a high school building we can use?” Fitzgibbons argued, trying to convince the county executive to support his cause.

Earlier this year, County Executive Tom DeGise convinced freeholders to support an open space initiative that would increase open space throughout the county.

“Building a school on county property in Secaucus would work against this,” Fitzgibbons said.

In seeking support from DeGise last week, Fitzgibbons pointed to the advantages that the Hoboken site has over the Secaucus location.

“While you have a county park nearby in Secaucus, we have a county park near the high school too,” Fitzgibbons argued. “We also already have a complete high school there. We wouldn’t have to build one. Hoboken High is still in great shape. It is two blocks from the light rail. Kids can get there easily by public transportation. If we locate the school in Secaucus, this may not be true.”

Hoboken High School also has a swimming pool, gymnasium, basketball courts, and other amenities.

More importantly, Hoboken already has Stevens Institute of Technology and an active arts community upon whose talents the county school can draw, Fitzgibbons noted.

“I know one of the advantages Secaucus has is the fact that kids can study the Meadowlands,” Fitzgibbons said. “But there are facilities out there we can take the kids to if we want, the way we take kids on field trips to Liberty Science Center.”

Fitzgibbons said he is seeking support now, before the Hoboken High School site is optioned off for some other use, and the chance to create his dream vanishes forever. He said once the county has committed to purchasing the site, funding can be sought from a variety of sources.

“But if we don’t take advantage of this opportunity now, we may never get another chance,” Fitzgibbons said. “I don’t have anything against Secaucus, but I think Hoboken is a better site for this school.”


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