By David Cruz
This is the Triangle Park Newark has been promising since 2006, a bridge, quite literally, from the Ironbound section and Penn Station to the Prudential Center. This is Triangle Park today, the same collection of parking lots and abandoned buildings that were here almost 10 years ago.
“Ten years have gone by and I, along with others in this council, became frustrated with the lack of action on the part of those who had the responsibility to develop and execute a plan related to the building of the park and other types of development,” said East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador.
Councilman Amador represents the ward where Triangle Park would be built. His sentiment is echoed by many, including Mayor Ras Baraka, who has promised to jump start this project, which has a troubled past. Today the Baraka administration presented an ordinance that would have moved the project forward but the council put the brakes on that because they say the city has chosen another developer.
A letter sent to council members today reads, “Arena Village, LLC, the appointed developer of the Triangle Park parcel, is proud to be working in partnership with the city of Newark.” Arena Village is a subsidiary of Boraie Development, which has developed the city’s only movie theater and announced plans for a new highrise residential development downtown.
“My concern right now is that I only have one plan before me and that’s the plan submitted by Edison Properties. I don’t have a plan from any other entity,” Amador said.
Edison Properties, the parking lot operator downtown, led the partnership that came up with the renderings. City officials say they have not chosen a new developer, that Boraie was responding to requests for proposals being sent out by the Housing Authority, which over the years, has acquired most of the land for the park. Council members were skeptical of all of this today.
“I wanna get a better sense of what the proposal is as far as the new development of Triangle Park. What are the timelines? We don’t wanna be in a situation where, 10 years from now, we’re sitting in the same position that we are today, and, to date, I have not been afforded that opportunity,” said North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos.
“I say to my colleagues, ‘You’re absolutely right. We should have it.’ But keep in mind that under this administration, and us, that we have moved a project that should have been taken care of 10 years ago, in six months,” said City Council President Mildred Crump.
The mayor has enough votes on the council to get his way on most matters, for the time being, but council members — some of whom believe the city has been working behind the scenes to make a deal with Boraie warn that they are not a rubber stamp and that if the administration wants to change developers, they’ll have to start being a little more upfront about their plans.
The administration says it wants to move forward a long-delayed project but the council says that after 10 years, they want to make sure the city doesn’t rush into an agreement with a developer who hasn’t presented a plan. Further discussion on all this will continue at the next council meeting later this month.