Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: Notes from around the town

From the desk of Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher:

Dear friends and neighbors – 

So much has gone on recently and we have so
much ahead that I wanted to connect with you on a few topics.  First
– two upcoming events that I hope you will come to:
   Wednesday 9-1030
“Coffee with a Cop” 2nd ward version, at La Isla uptown (12th and
Shipyard Lane).  I will be there having breakfast at 830 if you care
to join me!  Police Chief Ken Ferrante and Mayor Zimmer will join at
9 along with members of the Hoboken Police Department.  
   Thursday 6-8pm – Board of
Education Kick-Off Meet and Greet at Ganache Café (1500 Hudson St.) Join me,
Councilpersons Bhalla, Cunningham, Doyle, and Giattino to meet the Forward
Together (1-2-4) slate of Jen Evans, Sheillah Dallara and Irene Sobolov.  

So now the few topics…

Why the upcoming Hoboken Board of Education
race is important to you
 – After campaigning last year for my first
time, I have an incredible appreciation for the political process and how
necessary it is for people to vote – especially in our local
elections.  Your vote will neve matter more.  That being
said, the Board of Ed race is one that too many people opt out of because they
feel it does not impact them.  Here is why it should matter to you:  At
the center of any strong community lies a strong public school.  Your
home values are tied to the strength of our public schools.  Forty
percent of your property taxes are determined by the Board of Education of our
public schools.  The quality of education provided to your children in
our public schools is the result of decisions made by the Board of
Education.  Maximum education choices for your children are tied to
having strong public schools.  
As a non-parent, I listed the reasons above
in the order that resonates with me, but I recognize many reading this are
parents making decisions about their children’s education, so their order may
be different.  The point I am trying to make (without offending
anyone) is that the Board of Education election IMPACTS EVERYONE in our community
in many different ways.  

There are six candidates across two slates
vying for 3 open seats.  I am supporting, and I hope you join me, the
Forward Together Hoboken slate of Jennifer Evans, Sheillah Dallara and Irene
Sobolov – 1, 2&4 on the ballot –  Jen
and Irene are both incumbents and have been behind the significant progress we
have seen in our public schools over the last several years including, to name
a few, the introduction of fiscal discipline which shifted dollars from
administrative jobs to hiring more experienced teachers; an expansion of the
amazing relationship and STEM programs with Stevens Institute; and the hiring
of our amazing Superintendent Christine Johnson.  I met with
Christine two weeks ago over sandwiches from Fiore’s and all I can say is thank
you to this Board of Ed for bringing her to our community.  

I met Sheillah last year when she ran for
the Board of Ed and got to know her as we cross-campaigned for each
other.  On election night, to no-one’s surprise, Sheillah and her slate
took the top three slots from the results of the polls, however they lost two
of these seats – including Sheillah’s – after the mail-in-ballots were counted
an hour later*.  Sheillah is a tireless advocate for children and
families and volunteers a significant amount of her time with the Parent
Teacher’s Organization at Wallace, recently as the Special Needs Chair, and as
the events planner for the Hoboken Family Alliance.  Her demonstrated
commitment to and experience working with our schools and community combined
with her background in financial audit are why I am supportive of her for our
Board of Education.  

I am not alone in my support – my council
colleagues Ravi Bhalla, Peter Cunningham, Jim Doyle and Jen Giattino are all
supporting these candidates as well.  Please join us Thursday,
from 6 – 8, at Ganache at 1500 Hudson for the kick-off meet and greet
fundraiser for Forward Together Hoboken.  And if you can’t make
Thursday, then please join us the following week on Friday at the home of Tom
Kluepfel, BOE Chair, from 7 – 9 at 626 Bloomfield.  And please
VOTE 1-2-4 on 11/8!
500 ft rule – We had a
public meeting on 9/26 that was attended by approximately 50
people.  The takeaways from that meeting are that we agreed as a
group that the issue is far reaching and complex and that we will spend more
time to get this right for our community.   Many of the
attendees were restaurant owners with the rest mainly residents (mostly of the
1st and 2nd wards).   The
solution we will be looking for is one that will balance the quality of life
concerns raised by residents (noise, public drunkenness, etc.), the interests
of the community to attract more restaurants into different areas of Hoboken,
and the difficulties that small restaurants have indicated they have in opening
new restaurants.  It was a very constructive meeting and the ideas
provided by those attended were great!  More to come…

5 Acre Park & Municipal Garage
coming to Hoboken! (BASF site)
 – At the City Council meeting tomorrow night,
the Council will be voting on the funding to complete the acquisition of the
BASF site for use as open space and municipal parking.  I will be
supporting this.  The price tag is ~$30 million for just over 6
contiguous acres, 1 to be used for a municipal garage, and the remaining 5
acres to be open space that will be designed with resiliency features and uses
that will be determined in a public process over the next few
months.  I will keep you posted on when your input is needed!

In a community like ours with limited space,
the opportunity to have a contiguous, 5 acre park in the center of our town
will never happen again, and the price of land will never be any lower than it
is today.  The price tag reflects the current market price for land which
is more than double what it was estimated at two years ago.  So the
price is high, and we are voting to fund the entire acquisition and design
with debt.  

I have heard from many of you your concerns
about using debt and bonding so here is some color on why I am ok with this in this
instance.  In terms of the funding, to me, debt should be used when rates
are low and/or to purchase assets that will provide a community benefit over
generations.  In the case of this BASF acquisition, both
apply.  The state financing we are getting has very low interest
rates, only requires that we pay 81% of the principal back, and will be
amortized over a long period of time – so current and future residents who will
both share in the benefit of the open space, will also share the cost as well.   Additionally,
we have a dedicated Open Space Trust Fund which is specifically structured to
acquire open space, and will be used to pay all of the debt service – principal
and interest so it will not be paid out of the municipal tax levy.   So
if you think Hoboken will benefit from having this open space, like I do, the
stars are aligned to make it happen in the best way possible.

And finally…(for now)
Hoboken Train Crash – This was a
dark day for our community that ended with a tragic loss of a young Hoboken
mother.  I cannot say much more that what you have already heard and
read. What I can say is that when I went to the scene at around 1130 am,
what I witnessed was an amazing and organized effort by all of the various
agencies who have been involved.  Our HPD and HFD led the effort
through the chaos of the initial crash, and then were joined by county, state
and federal agencies to secure the terminal, secure the area, rescue victims
and then focus on restoring services.  My layperson’s observation is
that practice made perfect.  And we are so lucky to have
all of these resources available to us.  Take a minute to thank
Hoboken’s finest when you see them.  Starting tomorrow morning at
9:00 am at La Isla…

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!  Remember, that more
voices are always better.

Tiffanie Fisher
Hoboken 2nd Ward City Councilwoman

Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”

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