Hoboken, it’s gonna be a busy weekend — think St. Ann’s, but a longer street closure from North to South.
In a press release just released by the City of Hoboken, Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced today the creation of an “open street” on Jefferson Street for the purpose of creating more space to promote social distancing this weekend. This comes just a day after Hoboken announced it would start the gradual reopening of select parks this Friday, May 8th.
According to the press release, the opening will serve as a pilot, which if successful, could be repeated or expanded in the future. Jefferson Street between 3rd Street and 11th Street will be closed to vehicular traffic this Saturday and Sunday from 8AM until 8PM, to provide pedestrians and cyclists room to maintain proper social distancing and alleviate overcrowding in other public spaces.
“We are pleased to open up Jefferson Street to Hoboken residents to help facilitate social distancing,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “This space will help reduce the stress in our parks and waterfront, with the goal of making it safer for outdoor activity with the warmer weather. While we continue to advocate for residents to stay at home whenever practically possible, I recognize the mental health benefits of fresh air and outdoor space, and I’m confident this space will promote responsible outdoor activity.”
The Hoboken Police Department will be dedicating approximately five Traffic Control Officers (TCOs) to Jefferson Street, to assist residents who need to access their vehicles or enter their garages.
Congregation will be strictly prohibited, and face masks should be worn at all times, according to the Mayor.
Jefferson Street, however, will be the only local thoroughfare undergoing this type of closure. Another popular waterfront area, Sinatra Drive, will not be closed.
“We saw last weekend a higher than usual volume of traffic and we did not want to make our waterfront even more of a destination for those who don’t live in Hoboken,” Mayor Bhalla said about not closing the road.
“I want to take extra precautions to ensure Sinatra Drive does not become a destination for non-residents and result in additional overcrowding.”
The Jefferson Street announcement comes shortly after the press release last week from Councilman Mike DeFusco and Council President Jen Giattino who proposed a legislation package that sought to expand the use of sidewalk cafes and lower the commission that third party delivery companies can collect from local restaurants.
This announcement comes shortly after the press release last week from Councilman Mike DeFusco and Council President Jen Giattino who proposed a legislation package that sought to expand the use of sidewalk cafes and lower the commission that third party delivery companies can collect from local restaurants. Both ordinances are up for first reading this Wednesday evening, May 6th.
As part of amendments that would be made to the existing sidewalk cafe regulations, qualified businesses would be permitted to build a temporary platform in the parking spots immediately in front of their establishment to use as an outdoor dining area. It will also allow for businesses located across the street from municipal parks to extend seating to the sidewalk immediately in front of the park, with a pathway designated for pedestrians.
Below is a joint statement from Council President Jen Giattino and Councilman Mike DeFusco sent last week:
“The hospitality industry has been devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and as elected leaders, it is our job to help the mom and pop shops in our community recover and succeed. Though our current social distancing guidelines prohibit dining at restaurants, the time will soon come where our eateries, bars and cafes will once again be allowed to serve food and beverages, but likely with limited capacities. This is our opportunity to identify creative and innovative ways to help these businesses keep their doors open in Hoboken. Scaling back the profit percentage of large third party delivery companies allows our local small businesses to generate additional revenue to keep their staff employed and pay their bills. The hospitality industry needs our help now more than ever and we stand prepared to assist them through this challenging time in any way possible.”
The ordinance, “Safety is first. Social distancing is not going away. But we need to work within the parameters and make sure that our businesses are going to succeed,” DeFusco said.
He’s proposing closing down some streets for tables so customers can dine on those streets, while vendors sell their wares on the sidewalk.
In a tweet this week, Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla backed the idea being tested in bigger cities like Tampa, Fla., saying “closing streets during certain hours to help our businesses with additional outdoor table space when it’s time to re-open is a great idea and one we’ve been exploring.”
Closing streets during certain hours to help our businesses with additional outdoor table space when it’s time to re-open is a great idea and one we’ve been exploring along with an expansion of sidewalk cafes, waiving certain fees, and more. https://t.co/btxXvtoh88
— Ravinder S. Bhalla (@RaviBhalla) May 5, 2020
What do you think of the street closing this weekend? Share in the comments!