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Reminder & Time Change: North End Redevelopment Plan Community Meeting to be Held September 28th

The City of Hoboken will host the first community workshop as part of the community planning process for the North End Redevelopment Plan on September 28, 2017 from 7:30pm to 9:30pm at the Wallace School gymnasium, located at 1100 Willow Avenue. Please note that the start time for the meeting has changed from 7:00pm to 7:30pm due to a conflict with Back to School Night, which ends at 7:00pm.

In December 2013 the City Council declared the North End Area in the City of Hoboken as an Area in Need of Rehabilitation. The area is generally north of the 14th Street viaduct between Park Avenue and the palisades and is bounded to the north by the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail tracks.

The City of Hoboken is now in the process of developing a redevelopment plan for the North End in order to determine land uses, development patterns, transportation and transit solutions, and flood mitigation appropriate for the area.

As the first step of the community planning process, an online survey was issued in March, 2017 to provide public feedback on the vision for the North End. The survey results can be viewed at: http://hobokennj.gov/content/wp-content/uploads/North-End-Survey-Results-Memo.pdf.

Open Letter from Mayor Zimmer Regarding Water Infrastructure & Proposed Suez Agreement

As perhaps everyone in Hoboken knows, the City’s aging drinking water infrastructure is in desperate need of major investment. The City is upgrading the water mains along Washington Street and other priority areas, but much more funding will be needed to cover the extensive costs for city-wide upgrades. The City’s proposed Suez agreement would fund investments every year. Taxpayers should not have to pay for all the costs of the upgrades to the system, and that is why reaching a fair agreement with Suez to provide much-needed funding was so important to me. Until the necessary infrastructure upgrades are done, unfortunately, our City will continue to be plagued by damaging, disruptive, and costly water main breaks.

Usually, costs of maintaining and upgrading a City’s water system are fully covered by the system itself through the water ratepayers.  That way everybody who uses water shares in the cost proportionately, based on how much water they use.  For example, a car wash will pay proportionately more than a family of four, based on how much water each uses.

Unfortunately, in June 2001, during the transition from the Russo Administration to the Roberts Administration, Hoboken amended its 1994 Agreement with our water company in a way that imposes enormous unfair costs on Hoboken’s taxpayers.

Unbelievably, that Amendment actually reduced the amount the water company was required to pay each year for repairs and upgrades from $550,000 per year to $350,000 per year (with the City responsible for any repair costs exceeding $350,000) for 23 years from 2001 to 2024. In addition, the agreement stated that starting in 2014, the water company is permitted to “pass through” the “excess” cost of water to the City to the extent it exceeds the water cost levels of 2011 (although the contract doesn’t say when or how that “pass through” is supposed to occur).  Not a penny is provided to pay for our desperately needed capital improvements beyond the reduced amount for emergency repairs.

While the City did receive a one-time payment of $2.7 million, which it used to close a budget gap in 2002, the 2001 ten-year extension and Amendment actually COST the City over $17 million compared to simply leaving the pre-existing Agreement in place until scheduled termination, and then extending it 10 more years without any changes. This cost includes $4.6 million in lost maintenance investment ($200,000 less per year for 23 years) and the City’s agreement to a “pass through” of bulk water costs for 10 years (costing an estimated $13 million through scheduled contract termination in 2024).

Even though that Amendment was entered into 17 years ago, it is far from ancient history. It still has seven years to run, and terminating it now would cost the City a termination fee of almost $5 million.

In order to address the problems caused by this onerous Amendment, my Administration has been working for 2 years to re-negotiate our water agreement. In June of this year, we reached a tentative agreement, subject to City Council approval, on the terms of a new agreement. The Agreement was presented to the City Council in early July, shortly after negotiations were completed. In hindsight, it might have been wiser to wait until after the November election, so that the City Council could consider it without the distraction of an upcoming contentious election. However, it is still my hope that before the end of the year, the City Council will take a vote so that we can move forward to resolve these critically important issues. The proposed agreement is a dramatic improvement over the existing agreement that would enable Hoboken to finally address decades of underinvestment in our infrastructure.

These are the highlights of the proposed re-negotiated Agreement:

1.  Approximately $40 million in benefits to the taxpayer, including over $30 million in new infrastructure investment (approximately $1.8 million per year, compared to $350,000 per year currently) and almost $10 million from the elimination of unfair costs (relating to excess emergency repair and bulk water costs) imposed under the 2001 Amendment that would otherwise have had to be paid (either by taxpayers or through a rate increase) before the contract expired in 2024.

2. Installation of “smart technology” that would enable detection and repair of small leaks before they become big ones.

3.  Extends the Agreement 10 years until 2034.

Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation has been circulated about this Agreement. For example, the $40 million benefit to taxpayers is NOT simply being shifted to ratepayers. The only rate increases included in the Agreement are 1.8% in the first year to pay for a $150,000 annual increase in the emergency repair budget, an additional 2% per year for years 1 through 6 to phase in the actual cost of bulk water, and annual CPI adjustments.

In addition, some Council members have suggested that instead of resolving the unfair costs described above through a re-negotiation of the 2001 Amendment that caused the problem, the City should have included these costs in past budgets and raised taxes to pay them in past years. I strongly disagree, as did the legal and accounting professionals on whose advice the City relied upon. The charges had not been billed and were not going to be billed until negotiations had been completed. Put simply, the amounts were not yet due and were not likely to ever become due as the result of a renegotiated agreement or the city’s ability to pass the costs on to ratepayers.

Ultimately, it is important for residents to understand that the taxpayers of Hoboken should never have to shoulder the burden of the extremely unfair existing agreement that was passed in 2001 and currently extends until 2024. If the City Council approves the proposed agreement, then the City will be able to annually invest in its water main system and avoid these unfair excess bulk water and capital improvement costs. Holding the taxpayers responsible for these excess costs agreed to in 2001 is not necessary or appropriate now and was not necessary or appropriate over the past two years as some Council members have suggested. Prematurely taxing the people of Hoboken for a cost that was not yet payable and was likely never to be payable by the taxpayer would have been irresponsible and simply wrong.

The following documents provide additional information on this important issue:

Milling and Paving of Newark Street Scheduled for Friday and Saturday

Newark Street between Henderson Street (Marin Boulevard) and Harrison Street is scheduled to be milled and paved on Friday, September 15 and Saturday, September 16.

Milling work will begin on Friday at 9am to avoid peak hour traffic, however drivers should expect delays and are urged to avoid the area if possible. Police will be on hand to direct traffic. Efforts will be made to maintain travel lanes where possible, however road closures will be required. Paving operations are scheduled to begin at 8am on Saturday, September 16, weather permitting. The rain date for paving is Monday, September 18.

The roadway will be striped consistent with the Southwest Traffic Improvement Plan (http://hobokennj.gov/content/wp-content/uploads/SW-Traffic-Improvement-Plan.jpg). The plan includes the addition of a turning lane onto Madison Street and traffic signal at Madison Street and Observer Highway to create an entry point into southern Hoboken. The new Madison Street signal is scheduled to be set to flashing mode on Thursday and be fully operational on Monday, September 18.

City of Hoboken Announces Call for Submissions for Outdoor Mural Project

The Hoboken Mural Arts Council is announcing a call for submissions for a mural project located at 1312 Adams Street with the theme “diversity, inclusion, and community.” The Arts Council, which includes Geri Fallo (Hoboken Cultural Affairs), Albert Barsky (Barsky Gallery), Elizabeth Ndoye (hob’art co-operative gallery), and Justine Uva (Urban Arts), was recently established by Mayor Zimmer to provide guidance and art expertise for a mural project approved by the Planning Board.

The project, which is a requirement of a Planning Board approval for the property, includes a $25,000 honorarium to the selected artist or arts group as well as paint, supplies, and scaffolding.

Three artists will be selected from all the submissions and awarded $500 each to develop a design based on the theme “diversity, inclusion, and community.” The Arts Council, with input from the project developer, will evaluate and select the winning design.

The mural will be 155 feet wide by 35 feet tall, starting 20 feet from the ground. The surface of the wall will be made from Kingspan panels in the mural area and finished with a Weather XL modified polyester finish in Imperial white. The artist will be required to paint directly onto the wall from  a suspended scaffold system hung from the roof of the building and should have experience painting murals on such a system. The developer will be responsible for prepping and priming the wall, paint, other needed materials, and scaffolding.
Interested artists (or group of artists) should provide submissions by September 30, 2017 through the following link: www.hobokennj.gov/mural.

Hoboken to Host Annual September 11th Interfaith Memorial Service


All members of the public are invited to attend the City of Hoboken’s annual September 11th Interfaith Memorial Service. Fifty-six Hoboken residents were lost on September 11, 2001.

The service will take place on Monday, September 11, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. on Pier A. This year, the event will take place next to the recently-completed Hoboken 9/11 Memorial in the northwest area of the park.

The memorial is aligned in the direction of the World Trade Center site and includes a steel beam base with a glass panel for each of the fifty-six Hoboken residents lost on that day. Each panel is engraved with a name and is illuminated at night. The memorial is located within the grove of ginkgo trees which are also aligned with the World Trade Center that were planted in 2002 as a living memorial. The perimeter of the grove includes steel plates on the ground engraved with quotes from those who were there on that fateful day.

Mayor Zimmer Asks City Council to Vote on Proposed Suez Water Agreement With $31 Million for Infrastructure Investments

Suez Water will be making a presentation to the City Council on leak detection technology that could prevent major water main breaks by detecting leaks early on. The proposed $2.5 million investment in the technology is part of the proposed amended agreement with Suez Water which includes a total of $31 million in infrastructure investments.

The Council agenda will also include a resolution to adopt the proposed agreement as well as an ordinance to mandate that funds received through the agreement be dedicated towards water main system improvements.

Hoboken’s existing agreement with Suez Water which extends through 2024 only requires Suez to make $350,000 per year in capital investments in the water system – less than the amount needed just to make emergency repairs. Under the existing agreement, the City is responsible for repairs exceeding $350,000 per year as well as excess bulk water costs as of 2014. The City’s current liability to Suez under the existing agreement is $8.35 million and is estimated to total $17.8 million through 2024.

The proposed agreement would extend the contract through 2034, forgive the existing liability, and provide an estimated $31 million investment in Hoboken’s water system. The proposed agreement would shift bulk water and capital repair costs from the taxpayer to the ratepayer.

“Given that the proposed agreement would provide $31 million for urgently needed infrastructure upgrades, I ask the City Council take a vote on this issue at their meeting next week so that my Administration can move ahead accordingly,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Under the existing agreement, the City – and by extension every taxpayer – is responsible for excess repair and bulk water costs. Ultimately, that means residents are footing the bill for car washes or laundromats that use millions of gallons of water, while the proposed agreement would make ratepayers responsible for their own water usage.”

The proposed agreement was introduced to the City Council on July 11th, presented and discussed at City council and subcommittee meetings, and the following provides the second set of responses to Council members’ questions regarding the proposed agreement: www.hobokennj.gov/docs/Suez-Agreement-QA.pdf.

Mayor Zimmer Thanks Director Morgan and Chief of Staff Vijay Chaudhuri for Service to Hoboken

Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced that Transportation and Parking Director John Morgan will be resigning from his position effective Friday, September 1st, 2017 to pursue other professional opportunities and that her Chief of Staff Vijay Chaudhuri will be serving his last day tomorrow, Wednesday, August 23rd.

“I thank Director Morgan for his years of service to Hoboken,” Mayor Zimmer said. “He played a key role in helping our team advance the Washington Street redesign project, Southwest traffic circulation plan, Newark Street safety improvement project, Sinatra Drive shared use path, pay-by-phone parking option, bike share program, upgrades to the Hop shuttle, and many other projects that have improved the safety and quality of life of our community. I wish him continued success as he takes his next steps in his career.”

Mayor Zimmer will be appointing Ryan Sharp as Acting Director of the Department of Transportation and Parking. Mr. Sharp has served as Principal Planner in the department for the past 6 years.

“Vijay has seen Hoboken through many challenges and has been a valuable team member in many of our accomplishments for our City’s residents,” Mayor Zimmer explained regarding his decision to move on to other opportunities at this time. “I thank him very much for his strong dedication to our City and wish him the very best in the future.”

Impaired Driving Enforcement Crackdown to be Conducted Locally as Part of National Campaign

Police agencies from around New Jersey are gearing up for the state’s largest annual drunk driving crackdown. The 2017 “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Statewide Labor Day Crackdown begins August 18 and concludes on September 4. During the campaign, local and state law enforcement officers will conduct sobriety checkpoints and roving patrols targeting motorists who may be driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is a national campaign designed to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving through high-visibility enforcement backed up by educational activities including national radio and television advertisements, posters, banners and mobile video display signs. The campaign looks to curtail impaired driving during the busy summer travel season, including the Labor Day holiday period.

“Despite years of enforcement and public awareness efforts, too many people still make the unfortunate decision to get behind the wheel while impaired. Nearly 30% of all motor vehicle fatalities in New Jersey are alcohol related,” said Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “This is a zero tolerance campaign. If drivers are caught operating their vehicle while impaired they will be arrested,” he added.

As part of the initiative, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety provides grants to local police agencies throughout the state to run the two-week campaign. During last year’s crackdown, participating agencies made 1,649 DWI arrests.

Law enforcement agencies participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over 2017 crackdown offer the following advice:

  • If you plan to drink, designate a driver, someone who will not drink alcohol, before going out.
  • Take mass transit, a taxi or ask a sober friend to drive you home.
  • Spend the night where the activity is held.
  • Always buckle up, every ride, regardless of your seating position in the vehicle.  It’s your best defense against an impaired driver.
  • If you’re intoxicated and traveling on foot, the safest way to get home is to take a cab or have a sober friend or family member drive you to your doorstep.

Hoboken Public Library Newsletter for August

The Hoboken Public Library newsletter for August, 2017 is now available.

Hoboken Announces Tenant Advocate Office Hours

The City of Hoboken is announcing office hours for a tenant advocate for any Hoboken resident seeking advice on housing matters. Andrew Sobel, Esq. will be available during office hours, by appointment, between the hours of 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm on Thursday, August 17th and 31st, September 14th and 28th, October 12th and 26th, November 9th and 30th, and December 14th and 28th, 2017.

Any Hoboken resident wishing to attend the office hours must email (mwright@sobelhan.com) or call (973-874-5545) Mr. Sobel’s office in advance and provide a description of the issue to be discussed in order to schedule an appointment.

The location for the open office hours will be the basement conference room in City Hall at 94 Washington Street.

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