Community Resilience Plan
Mayor Zimmer’s plan for community resiliency
The City of Hoboken has developed the following recovery and resiliency plan to address vulnerabilities and mitigate against future flooding and disaster events.
- Energy Resiliency: The City of Hoboken is working with the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratory, the N.J. Board of Public Utilities and Public Service Electric and Gas (“PSEG”) to design a “Micro-grid” which will utilize Energy Surety Design Methodology (“ESDM”). This is the first non-military application of this technology designed for an entire community. In conjunction with PSEG’s “Energy Strong” program and the availability of funding, the City of Hoboken will designate critical community facilities to deliver un-interrupted electrical service during disaster events, black-outs and brown-outs. Critical community facilities will include the police headquarters, fire headquarters and fire stations, the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps., the Hoboken University Medical Center (“HUMC”), the North Hudson Sewerage Authority’s sewage treatment plant and flood pumps, city hall, the DPW Central Garage, the Multi-Service Center, shelters, grocery stores and fuel stations, as well as residential buildings with large at-risk populations like seniors and the disabled. Design of the Micro-grid will be completed in the fall of 2013. PSEG has proposed eliminating one of its electrical substations in Hoboken and elevating the two remaining substations to protect them from future flooding. The City has applied to the State of New Jersey for $1.3 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (“HMGP”) funding to purchase and install natural gas powered emergency back-up generators for critical municipal facilities. While this project may be constructed in 1-2 years, it is largely contingent upon funding.
- Shoreline Protection: The City of Hoboken applied to the State of New Jersey for $33 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (“HMGP”) funding for the installation of seawalls and flood barriers to keep high tides and storm surges from breaching Hoboken’s waterfront in the future. As part of this concept, the revised Redevelopment Plan for Hoboken Rail Yards that will be introduced in the fall of 2013 would incorporate a flood barrier along the southern edge of the development to protect from storm surges from the south. In addition, city officials have met with the Governor’s staff, NJ Transit executives and FEMA representatives to formally request the elimination/hardening of the Long Slip Canal where flood waters entered the community. City officials also met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to request that the Corps focus on Hoboken’s shoreline as part of its $20 million North Atlantic Comprehensive Study. The City will examine the feasibility of incorporating an armored levee or flood barrier into the design of phase II of the 1600 Park Avenue/Hoboken Cove park project at Weehawken Cove. While these infrastructure improvements may be constructed in 3-5 years, they are largely contingent upon funding.
- Flood Mitigation: The City of Hoboken supported the North Hudson Sewerage Authority’s (“NHSA”) $20 million grant application for Hazard Mitigation funding to construct three new shovel-ready wet weather pump stations to alleviate flooding. In addition, in an effort to ensure that the pumps are funded and built, the City submitted a Letter of Intent (“LOI”) to the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust for a $9 million low interest loan to install the first of the three new wet weather pump stations at 11th Street along the waterfront. If funded, the City will pay for the pump station’s construction and the NHSA will operate and maintain the pump station in perpetuity. As part of a revised Redevelopment Plan for Hoboken Rail Yards, the City plans to include requirements for the developer to pay for the second of the three pumps, which would be located at 5th Street.
- Stormwater Management: The City of Hoboken has applied to the State of New Jersey for $60 million in Hazard Mitigation funding to purchase three tracts of land in the flood hazard area. If funded, the tracts of land will be used for parks and open space with stormwater retention facilities incorporated into the design to reduce stormwater runoff. The City was recently chosen in a national competition by the “Re.InvestInitative.org” to receive $300,000-$500,000 in technical assistance to design and fund sustainable and resilient “green infrastructure” to reduce the effects of climate change and extreme storm events. In addition, the City was chosen by “Together North Jersey” to receive $90,000 in technical assistance to examine the City’s combined sewer system and quantify the benefits that green infrastructure will have on reducing flooding and stormwater run-off. Finally, the City received a $20,000 grant from “Sustainable Jersey” to design a rain garden which will be used as a proto-type for other sites around the city to absorb and temporarily store stormwater runoff.The City is in active negotiations with the property owners of the aforementioned parcels. Acquisition of the first tract of land is expected to take place by the end of summer 2013. The Together North Jersey Local Demonstration Project and the City’s Green Building and Environmental Sustainability master plan element will both be completed in the fall of 2013. Design of the curb extension rain garden is complete and the city expects to go to construction by the fall of 2013. The Re.InvestInititive.org plan is expected to take 1-2 years to prepare.
- Critical Facilities/Infrastructure: Many of Hoboken’s municipal facilities sustained significant damage during Hurricane Sandy. The Fire Headquarters and two Fire Stations were flooded during the event and had to be evacuated until flood waters receded. The Public Works central garage was flooded, evacuated and the city lost 36 municipal vehicles. The city’s Multi-service Center which is a community center with space for several non-profits who serve special needs and low-mod income residents was significantly damaged and is still closed for renovations. The public library, volunteer ambulance corps, and midtown parking garage were also flooded and suffered significant damage. Finally, Hoboken’s municipal parks and recreational facilities were damaged due to the hurricane, including Pier C, the Boys and Girls Club, and Jackson Street Park.Damage to the above critical community facilities and municipal infrastructure highlights the need for rational and coherent municipal facilities plans and investment strategies. The City of Hoboken plans to submit a $50,000 grant application to the NJ Department of Community Affairs (“NJ DCA”) for Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (“CDBG-DR”) funding to prepare a Municipal Hazard Mitigation Plan to supplement the 2008 Hudson County All Hazards Mitigation Plan. Second, the City plans to submit a $50,000 grant application to the NJ DCA for CDBG-DR to prepare an Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Plan to examine the recreational and historic resources of the city in relation to flood hazard mitigation. Finally, the City plans to submit a $30,000 grant application to the NJ DCA for CDBG-DR to prepare a 5 year Capital Improvement Plan that will focus on municipal resiliency and hazard mitigation. If funded, these plans will be completed in one year.
- Emergency Notification: The City of Hoboken has applied to the State of New Jersey for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding to purchase programmable, solar-powered, mobile message boards which can be quickly deployed during emergencies and community events to warn motorists of impending hazards or provide residents with information and instructions. This is in addition to the relatively robust emergency notification system the city already employs, including Reverse 911 and Nixle Alerts, as well as Facebook and Twitter updates. If funded, the message boards could be deployed almost immediately.
- Public Information: The City of Hoboken has applied to the State of New Jersey for Hazard Mitigation Grant funding to engage in a public information and awareness campaign to advise residents of natural and man-made hazards and recommend that citizens put together preparedness plans. While the City’s social media program is relatively robust with over 14,000 followers, the public information campaign could be rolled-out in less than one year.
- Resilient Building Codes: The City of Hoboken is a dense urban landscape with many mid-rise and high-rise residential buildings interspersed with historic brownstones and ground-level retail establishments. It is not feasible for building owners to raise their attached multi-story structures to comply with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (“FEMA”) and National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”) regulations and requirements. Therefore, the City is working with FEMA, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) and the N.J. Department of Community Affairs (“NJDCA”) to reconcile the city’s zoning code with state and federal regulations to allow for “wet floodproofing” and “dry flood proofing” of ground level floors located below the Base Flood Elevation (“BFE”). Of particular concern, is the utilization of space on the street level of buildings in the flood hazard area. State and federal regulations prohibit/discourage residential and mixed-use buildings from having usable space on the ground floor if that level is located below the BFE. This would have an adverse impact on street life and community character. If implemented, existing state and federal regulations would discourage urban design which facilitates “eyes on the street” which in turn would adversely impact public safety and security. In addition, state and federal regulations prohibit/discourage elevator mechanicals from being located anywhere below the BFE. Therefore in some areas the lowest level an elevator may be located in is the second floor. This in turn necessitates the construction of elaborate and excessive handicapped ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The City is applying to the NJDCA for $50,000 in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (“CDBG DR”) to update its design standards and another $20,000 to update its stormwater management and floodplain protection zoning ordinances. If funded, these projects would be completed within one year.
- Resiliency Task Force: The Mayor has created a “Resiliency Task Force” within her administration to develop ideas, policies, projects and programs to advance community recovery and resiliency and to oversee the implementation of those projects which are ultimately approved and/or funded. The task force will also be involved with the implementation of a Community Rating System (“CRS”) which will ultimately make the City more resilient and reduce homeowners’ flood insurance premiums by as much as 45%. The work of the task force is on-going.