September 28, 1999

Roseland Property has filed two more development applications with the Township of Weehawken. 

One application is for a specific site plan which is the renovation of the Banana Building. Back in the days when the Weehawken Waterfront was a shipping port, the Banana Building was the warehouse where Chiquita Bananas would unload their bananas.  It is now used as a garage for NY Waterways. It is located about one-quarter mile south of the NY Waterways Ferry Terminal.  Roseland proposes to turn the Banana builiding into a catering facility and health club. The second application is for preliminary approval for a monstorous development north of PershingRoad which is currently the parking lot for NY Waterways. This application will dramatically change the character of Weehawken.

The applications were filed in early August, 1999.. Before the Weehawken Planning Board can conduct public hearings on the applications, there must be a determination of completness.  There is a long list of documents Roseland must submit. Among them are a traffic study, an environmental impact study, and an economic impact study.  All documents are available to the public for review.  A copy is always available at town hall which is not allowed to leave the premises.

Friends of the Weehawken Watferfront has gathered an entire copy of both applications.   Craig Whitaker and his staff are reviewing details.  Additionally, Weehawken resident Ben Goldman, who has served on the President's Council for Sustainable Development, has also been volunteering considerable time scrutinizing the applications. We are all very grateful to Ben for taking the time on this extremely important matter. Thanks Ben!

The following is a summary of problems with the Roseland Proposals.   The is not a final document. This is a draft. The purpose of posting this summary is to invite your comments and corrections. If you have something to add, please reply to mailto:robkotch@weehawkenwaterfront.com

Prepared by Benjamin A. Goldman, Ph.D.
for Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront


"What's wrong with the Roseland Proposal?"

I. Walking along the proposed waterfront from the south

    1. Southern section (public park)

        a. They propose an industrial activity (ferry maintenance) in the
middle of the public park.
        b. The park is shunted to the southern end on possibly the most
contaminated acreage along the Town's waterfront, under the Lincoln Tunnel
vents.
        c. It will be surrounded by a huge pedestrian-unfriendly parking lot
(nearly 700 spaces).

    2. Midsection (banana building and brownstones)

        a. The waterfront walkway is hidden behind private buildings and land
uses for about 1/3 of the length of the waterfront.
        b. There's only one access point to the public walkway along this
entire stretch (which is nearly as long as all of Blvd East promenade), plus
one at either end.
        c. Million-dollar homes are crammed right up to the walkway, with
some actually directly abutting the public easement; this is a prescription
for constant bickering between the new homeowners and the public.

    3. Northern section (bulk of residential and commercial development)

        a. There will be a bank of huge buildings from Eldorado Place north,
each the size of a city block, just as if there were 15 Paine-Webbers in a
row, many of which will be 10- to 12-stories high (plus penthouses).
        b. Gone forever will be the uninterrupted view of the Hudson River
and Manhattan; much of our view to the north will be completely obliterated
by a 10-story hotel built right to the river's edge.
        c. It's designed like a huge suburban mall with huge indoor parking
lots, little on-street parking, and very unpleasant conditions for pedestrian
passage.
        d. They've scattered acres of totally useless suburban lawns around
the huge buildings, when we are starved for public space at a waterfront park.
        e. The result will be a community that looks and functions completely
unlike the existing Town.


II. Traffic Impact Study

    1.  Quoting from their own consultant report (p. 44): "In conclusion, it
is fully recognized that the regional and local roadway network currently
experiences recurrent congestion and excessive traffic delays. Under the
existing transportation infrastructure conditions, a development such as the
proposed Port Imperial South would not likely be feasible."

        a. They are primarily counting on the new light rail station to
mitigate the traffic problem; but just think of Hoboken, or any other town
with a train station, to see how such stations usually become magnets for
additional automobile commuters.
        b. Yet their report says in the morning there will not be one single
additional car entering the site from the north--NOT ONE additional
southbound car in the next ten years!
        c. So how will the 8,000 employees that are projected to work down
there get there? There's no mention of them in the traffic analysis.

    2. Even with using their optimistic scenario, the consultant report shows
a tremendous increase in traffic problems will occur in Weehawken.

        a. Morning Rush Hour: in ten years, the number of intersections with
poor to severe congestion will triple (8 to 24); 2/3 of this is due to the
waterfront development (10 out of 16 or 62.5%) - WITHOUT AN ADDITIONAL CAR
entering down below!
        b. Evening: the number of intersections with poor to severe
congestion will increase 5-fold (5 to 24); 1/5th is due to the development (4
out of 19, or 21%).
        c. Nearly 2,500 cars will be leaving the site northbound at the
evening rush hour; that's enough to fill 4 lanes to capacity, yet there will
only be 2 northbound lanes even with the improvements they suggest. Where
will the extra 2 lanes go? To upper Weehawken's already congested roads.

    3. They also crunched less optimistic numbers using standard methods that
don't assume reductions from the light rail.

        a. These numbers suggest there will be an ADDITIONAL 1,500 cars going
in and out of the area in the morning rush hour, and nearly 3000 more cars at
night.
        b. These additional cars will fill 2.5 lanes in the morning and 5
lanes at night; that is, over and above the existing bumber-to-bumper traffic
entering and exiting lower Weehawken today.
        c. Adding 2 lanes to Port Imperial Blvd will be grossly insufficient
to accomodate traffic requiring 125% to 250% greater capacity.
        d. We're talking unadulterated, unimaginable, interminable gridlock.

    4. Their analysis was incomplete in several respects.

        a. They used data from a sleepy, sunny weekday in the middle of July,
so there were no school buses in the morning tying up traffic, and no rain
storms to back things up.
        b. They didn't even include Park Avenue
        c. They didn't include any analysis of bus service.
        d. There's no origin and destination analysis. Where are the Light
Rail and Ferry Riders actually coming from and going, and how will they get
here?
        e. No analysis of traffic generated by 8,000 new employees (cited in
their separate Fiscal Impact Report).
        f. No parking analysis.
        g. No pedestrian accessibility analysis.
        h. No analysis of the tremendous pollution potential from the
projected congestion.
        i. No analysis of traffic impacts due to 10 continuous years of
construction activity (during which time the Light Rail won't even be fully
operational).

    5. How many of us will even last through the decade-long increase in
traffic to see the supposed miracle cure of light rail?


III. Environmental Impact Statement

    1. The entire section "Assessment of the Environmental Impact" is only 10
pages!

    2. There is no detailed view analysis whatsoever.

        a. The only impact analysis they provide is the following (p. 38):
"The property after construction is completed will offer views of new office
buildings and townhome residences, with substantial landscaped recreational
areas in the southern portion of the property. The building heights have been
scaled to accommodate views of the Hudson River from higher elevations along
the Palisades area of Weehawken, and spaced to permit views of the river and
Manhattan between the proposed buildings."

    3. I have not had time to review this report in greater detail.

IV. Fiscal Impacts

    1. Their own consultant's report indicates the proposed development is
certainly not a cash cow.

        a. Estimated revenues will be just 7.5% greater than the estimated
$7.3 million in new annual municipal costs even in the best of circumstances
(not including school taxes).
        b. It is unclear what is the margin of error for these estimates; in
fact, no ranges are given whatsoever, so any net may well be statistically
negligible.

    2. The bulk of their touted positive impacts are related to the school
district.

        a. They estimate that more than 96% of the new households will be
childless.
        b. This results in estimated $6.5 million net benefit to the school
district.
        c. It also means 3,500 new residents with no need for our public
schools, who will soon be demanding lower school taxes.


V. Conclusion

    1. The impacts of this development are potentially very negative for the
Town.

        a. Tremendous increase in traffic and parking problems.
        b. Loss of views, which are possibly the Town's most precious and
unique asset.
        c. Semi-private watefront and poor use of public space.
        d. Significant increase in municipal costs with uncertain net
benefits independent of school taxes.
        e. A deep aesthetic and demographic rift will divide future
functioning of the Town.

    2. The proposal should be denied pending substantial change.

        a. An independent, comprehensive traffic analysis must be completed,
with substantial public input into its scope and selection of top-flight
consultant.
        b. An independent, comprehensive geographic information system must
be developed to facilitate view and density analyses.
        c. Adoption of Community Plan, the preparation of which is dependent
on V.2.a and V.2.b.

    3. Citizens of Weehawken need to let the Mayor, Planning Board, and
Developer know that support for this proposal will not be tolerated.

        a. Letters.
        b. Attendance at public hearings.
        c. Rallies.
        d. Electoral politics.