Roughly 15 residents of uptown Hoboken attended a public meeting on Monday, Aug. 1 to discuss the possibility of a new toddler park at the Maxwell Place development.
Hoboken’s Director of Environmental Services and Health and Human Services Leo Pellegrini hosted the meeting, which took place at the Hoboken Historical Museum.
A playground exists at Maxwell Place Park, on Sinatra Drive near 11th Street and looks out at the waterfront. But it caters to older children.
Apple Montressori School and the city have hired Suburban Consulting Engineers Inc. to either add to or revamp the playground area at the existing park.
At the meeting on Monday, Suburban presented two concepts.
“This project is part of a proposed private public partnership with Apple Montissori Schools,” Pellegrini said. “Their foundation the Seth Morris 9/11 foundation approached the city about wanting to donate additional equipment for the park in the form of a toddler park. They have paid for all of the expenses for the planning so far. And if this project has community backing and also the support of the City Council, they will pay for all the equipment and the construction as well.”
Both proposals included rubber safety surfacing, a play structure for 1-year-olds to 2.5-year-olds, benches, and a four-foot-high fence.
Joseph Perello of Suburban said the existing playground is for children 3 to 5 and 5 to 12 years of age, but does not have suitable equipment for younger children.
“The city wants to meet those needs as the equipment for small toddlers is different than that for children 2 to 5 and of course 5 to 12,”said Perello. “ So what we did was prepare concepts of equipment for that age group.”
“If you expand use for one group, you take it away from another.”- Hartmut Grossmann
“In addition to the play structures, we’ve also incorporated some activity panels, said Danielson. “A lot of younger kids like to move things around and spin, so it will really play into the senses as they start to develop those motor skills.”
The only difference between the two concepts is where the playground will be placed.
Concept One includes the existing playground area and extends it to the north to include playground materials for children ages 1 to 2.5.
Concept Two would separate the new playground from the existing playground by placing it to the west on a triangular field of grass. The areas would also be separated by fencing and the existing sidewalk.
Most residents were concerned with Concept Two as they believe that Hoboken has limited open green space. And this spot in particular is used by HappyFeet, a soccer league for children ages 3 to 6.
Parents speak out
Hartmut Grossman, a resident of 1025 Maxwell Lane, said at the meeting that the park is very well balanced and Concept Two would displace too many people who use the grass.
“Concept Two, you’re making a lot more space unusable for other activities,” Grossman said. “That’s an area where particularly kids soccer is played on Saturdays. This a relatively small park that has different uses. You have the lawn, the dog park, the playground, the swing area… yoga groups that use it, so in my opinion it’s fairly well balanced. And if you expand use for one group, you take it away from another.”
Karen Maneghin, a resident of 1025 Maxwell Lane, stated that she has grandkids who use Hoboken parks often and that she believes both designs are “designed challenged.”
“The designs are design-challenged and not well informed as to what we actually use the park for,“ she said. “My other design concern is, you’ve obviously gone to another manufacturer for your equipment it has no relationship to this other standard equipment that’s being used and I think it’s going to look like a mish mash…it would be nice to coordinate the design to have a comprehensive design here.”
Meneghin suggested a new concept to reutilize the swing area.
“How about a concept number three, which is, forget about building a new footprint. Re utilize the swing park. That should become the toddler park. That is a very little-used park.”
Another resident who lives at 1025 Maxwell Lane said she isn’t sure that the additional park is necessary, as Elysian Park at Tenth and Hudson Streets has equipment that toddlers can use.
She also stated that Concept One should have a fence with a gate between the two parks to prevent the older kids from bumping into the toddlers.
A father residing at 1025 Maxwell said he was concerned by the separate parks.
“I have young children, and the idea of separate parks, I think, is dangerous and unsafe, especially that close to Sinatra Drive,” he said. “My nanny, it would be a nightmare for her in the daytime to shepherd them to the various areas.”
One male resident of 1125 Maxwell wanted to make sure that funds from the foundation and school would be put aside to pay for maintenance and general upkeep of the park. as the private pre-school frequently uses the park.
Pellegrini responded, “The financial terms have not been finalized and we would have to discuss that. The purpose of the meeting tonight is really to find out if we want to do this. I call it phase one.”
Perello said he appreciated the input and it seemed that Concept One was preferred. He said the equipment could be made to look more cohesive with the existing structure by choosing the same green and yellow colors on the existing jungle gym.
Pellegrini said the next step is for his department, sub committees, and the engineering firm to review the comments made by the public. People can also send in surveys to his department by email before they take further steps.