Let the people decide the fate of our parks

Dear Editor:

In a March 2 Letter to the Editor entitled “Trees count more than kids?”, the author claims that the trees that were planted last fall in Church Square Park (CSP) “have changed its character dramatically.”

Ironically, the planting of trees have moved CSP closer to the natural and green character it has enjoyed for over a century, up until its recent desecration with rubber, asphalt and Astroturf. The planting of a few new trees did little more than replace some of the natural elements eliminated by the desecration, giving the birds and squirrels of the park back some of the nature that was stolen from them.

Just last Monday as I was walking through the park, one of its little residents, a squirrel, was scurrying along the sidewalk, and I stopped to greet him. I was amazed at how he was so friendly to me that I motioned to him to come closer to me and as he approached, he stood up. He was looking for some tidbit, so having only malt balls on me, I bit into a couple to break apart and offered them to him. He came up to me and walked onto my hand and while he picked up the bits, I was actually able to pet him gently on his head! I was so grateful and pleased that CSP could provide an environment where he could be so friendly!

Amazingly he still has an incredible comfort level on his home turf where nature has taken quite a hit these last couple of years. Over half the park has been covered with Astroturf, concrete, rubber, plastic and metal. Those who complain that trees have taken over land that they want used exclusively for sports should remember that a park is also a home to the little creatures that live there. Our furry little friends can’t complain when they are robbed of their natural home as it has gradually been replaced with a hodge podge of synthetic surfaces compartmentalizing a once beautifully flowing natural habitat.

Last July some residents fought the introduction of the Astroturf weeks before it was actually installed. The city refused to abandon their elimination of natural grass because over $100,000 in contracts had already been signed to do the work. But after a few trees were planted last fall, some residents expected the city to immediately dig them up at their demand.

The real problem is that the City has not bothered to consider the will of any of Hoboken’s citizens when it has made changes to CSP without public notice, hearings or consensus. Without a democratic process, we get whatever changes the City wants to impose. Some residents may want CSP turned into Astroturf playing fields. I want the park to be returned to its green and natural state. I believe that the majority will favor nature over synthetic. But in either case, we need a democratic process to achieve the correct result.

Mary Ondrejka


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