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Zimmer: A Walled Hoboken at Heart of Plan to Battle Flooding

Flooding, innovation and improving infrastructure were the focus of Mayor Dawn Zimmer's state of the city address on Wednesday.

A plan that includes permanent flood walls on the north and south ends of Hoboken would reinforce the city's infrastructure in the event of another catastrophic storm, Mayor Dawn Zimmer said Wednesday night. 

Zimmer focused on Hoboken's resilience after Sandy during her third State of the City address on the Stevens Campus, outlining a plan that uses Hoboken’s topography and elevation as a barrier to flooding. The concept could reinforce the most vulnerable parts of the city, which are the north and south side of Hoboken where majority of flooding occurs.

"This system is proposed as a best practice by FEMA and has been successfully implemented in numerous locations," Zimmer said, "including hospitals where building up on pilings simply was not an option."

Permanent flood walls along the north and south ends of the city would connect to the cliffs to the west.

“As an urban community, we cannot raise our buildings up on piles, we cannot build sand dunes to protect our city,” said Zimmer. “We need a better solution.”

In addition, roadways at either end of Hoboken would be equipped with a flood break system, which will rise up as a gate if flooding occurs. 

The North Hudson Sewerage Authority is also proposing the installation of additional flood pumps, so water can be pumped out quickly should.

“The question everyone has been asking since the storm is ‘how do we prevent this from happening again?’” Zimmer said. “I have been asking myself those same questions, and I have asked different experts and stakeholders to think about how we can address our flooding problems.”

Dr. George Korfiatis, Stevens Institute's provost and university vice president, introduced Zimmer, who kicked off her speech by thanking the first responders and thousands of volunteers that came out in the aftermath of the storm.

“Hurricane Sandy was by far the biggest event this year,” said Zimmer. “I want to start by thanking our first responders including the police, fire, OEM, employees from the Parking Utility, as well as our Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps for working tirelessly to protect our community.”

With a special shout out to Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, Gov. Chris Christie and Community Emergency Response Team leader Lou Casciano and Volunteer Ambulance Corps President Thomas Molta.

Hoboken is in the process of not only rebuilding, but becoming stronger. Zimmer called for the development of a more comprehensive, integrated approach to protect the city.

With that in mind, the mayor said she is actively pursuing federal funding to make those changes a reality. Future developments in Hoboken, she said, will have to be built in such a way that they do not add to the flooding problem, she said.

Zimmer said that "going green" should be the main focus in keeping Hoboken safe and resilient. This plan includes purchasing park space, building large underground detention systems, and incentivizing green roofs that retain rainwater from going into the sewer system to help reduce flooding.

Hurricane Sandy also highlighted the vulnerabilities in Hoboken’s power system. Zimmer said that the city is working on developing a micro-grid with hybrid power sources that can be supplemented by green energy to provide power to critical infrastructures like the hospital and supermarkets during power outages.

“A power grid like this would be the first in New Jersey,” said Zimmer, who is currently in discussions with PSE&G regarding the idea. 

Looking to the future, Zimmer said that 2013 will — much like 2012 — be another year of parks, mentioning the scheduled completion of projects Church Square Park, Sinatra Park and Elysian Park.

"I remain focused on parks acquisition in the western side of the City," Zimmer said. The city is still in court to acquire that piece of land. While mentioning phase one of the completion of 1600 Park, Zimmer didn't give a timeline.

“For me, our parks aren’t just an important part of solving our flooding problems," Zimmer said, "they are critical to improving our quality of life."

Lastly, Zimmer focused on taxes.

While the city suffered significant losses during Sandy — more than $100 million — Zimmer promised that taxes will not go up.

"We will have to use much of our surplus," she said, "but we will not raise taxes in a year where so many business and residents have paid such a huge price."

peterbelfiore February 16, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Hudson, Not negative, realistic. If you or anyone thinks this plan can be built without Environmental Impact Studies or the approval of the Army Core of Engineers, you really don't know what you are talking about. But Dawn has already been told this. Perry
Scott M. Siegel February 16, 2013 at 11:03 PM
That is the most inane and absurd comment since "most towns won't approve a BOE November election". Mayor Zimmer is not the superintendent or on the BOE board. How often are BOE issues mentioned at the City Council meetings ? Virtually not at all. How often are City Hall issues mentioned at the BOE? Again hardly at all. It's just like Beth Mason complaining about Councilwoman Zimmer working with Kids First in 2009 and then her husband funds two BOE campaigns in a row.
CuriousReplacement February 16, 2013 at 11:30 PM
The BOE worries about that, girlfriend. That's why we have our kids in Stevens Cooperative, remember? You're worrying me, honey.
CuriousGal February 17, 2013 at 05:34 PM
SS- there was more than enough money in the surplus for putting p a traffic light. If Dawn didn't want to bond for everything, putting everything on the credit card for future administrations, there would be a light up at 16th Street right now. Again, the continued lack of taking any responsibility has become a hallmark for the supporters of the current administration.
Hobbs February 17, 2013 at 08:15 PM
The NJT raised rail tracks for the most part already form a wall on the southern border of Hoboken. Some sort of plan to temporarilyy block flood waters at the the undepasses shouldn't be too complicated or expensive. NJT also needs to protect their waterfront property. The northern border is still mostly vacant or soon to be developed property and flood measures should be part of any redevelopment plan,
Scott M. Siegel February 18, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Once again CG shows how bankrupt her side is is on the usage of a surplus. A surplus is prudently uses for unforeseen events or unusual events like retro pay , lawsuits, increased energy costs, tax appeals etc. A traffic light is long term asset and in most communities is financed via a capital budget thru bonding. MORTe voted that correct strategy down.
Ojo Rojo February 18, 2013 at 04:32 AM
If you think anyone is going to deny Hoboken the right to do the exact same thing so many other cities have done just b/c they have to fill out some paperwork, you don't know what you are talking about Perry. And FYI - DC put in their own floodwall about a year or so ago.
Ojo Rojo February 18, 2013 at 04:34 AM
NJT needs more flood protection. Their raised tracks did not protect their trains and did not protect their own equipment adequately.
Ojo Rojo February 18, 2013 at 04:34 AM
The surplus is for emergencies, not to pay for the stupidity and intransigence of the minority.
CuriousGal February 18, 2013 at 05:03 AM
Minutillo used to complain about city hall getting involved with Board of Ed elections until Dawn started supporting Kids First. Dawn has endorsed the Kids First political group for the past few elections-- telling us about what a "great job" they are doing and endorsing the ticket. Is the education of the city's children not part of the state of the city? Obama includes education in the State of the Nation. Christie includes education in the State of the State. But Dawn doesn't include education in the State of the City? Maybe because under her political cronies the school district is in need of improvement? 90% of kids attend a school that has failed to meet adequate yearly progress? A high school that went from 2nd most improved to bottom 10% according to NJ Monthly? Per pupil spending hovering around $30K? Assaults, violence and suspensions in the high school? Crony hires from Newark, Bayport, and Plainfield? Parents abandoning the schools? Hundreds of "school choice" students coming in by the busload from Jersey City?
puzzledone February 18, 2013 at 12:06 PM
What you refer to as a "credit card for future generations" is referred to in municipal finance circles as "asset-liability matching." Of course, you just proved on another board that you either have a lying or counting problem with your assertion that the drop in the number of 11th grade students was only one year, not the 9. Someone with your track record of posting about our schools should probably have known better, but I'm sure you did.
HudsonStreet February 18, 2013 at 02:04 PM
I doubt anyone expected that approvals would not be needed. Considering all the problems from previous administrations that now must be repaired or replaced, I wouldn't want to see anything built without proper studies being done first. I appreciate your attempts to continue to try to be negative.
puzzledone February 19, 2013 at 12:06 PM
CG, can I ask you again to respond to the 9 CONSECUTIVE YEARS of statistically significant drops in 11th grade enrollment and whether we can trust test scores and graduation rates during that period as a result? On another board, you recently claimed it was a single year, and did not reply to the posting of the actual source material showing that it was 9. This either shows an intent to lie about the facts, or that you are so critically misinformed and unwilling to consider facts that don't support your hypotheses about the district that your opinion is meaningless.
CuriousGal February 19, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Depending on geometrics and the type of signal designed, a traffic signal can cost $130,000 to $250,000. In August of 2010, Hoboken had a $20,100,000.00 surplus. The traffic light would have been about 1% of the SURPLUS-- (note: not from the budget). The result? 3+ years of no park at 16th Street.... maybe a good excuse, but not good for getting things done. "Bonding simply increases the municipal debt burden and that is not a risk we need to take given the uncertain economy" - Councilwoman Castellano.
Ojo Rojo February 19, 2013 at 05:33 PM
CG, stop lying. The city never had $20mm of cash sitting in surplus and you know that. Stop with the dishonesty already. Your constant attempts to play fast and loose w/ the truth and the constant disinformation you put out has done nothing but make Mason and company look horrible.
HudsonStreet February 19, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Sadly curiousgal is only able regurgitate Beth Mason's negativity and talking points.
Scott M. Siegel February 19, 2013 at 06:20 PM
As Rojo said the $20 surplus lie was started by Beth Mason. Every year she cites the general fund balance not the cash surplus.The number cited can be found on Sheet 3A of the Annual Financial Statement. The cash surplus can be found Sheet 21 and stood at $9,699,159.43. http://www.hobokennj.org/docs/businessadmin/FinancialStatementCY2011.pdf Money was recommended to be reserved for retro pay, lawsuits, early retirement, tax appeals, and other items. She does quote Castellano correctly, but fails to mention she is part of the fiscal and legal incompetents who tried to zero out the surplus (but couldn't add their numbers up correctly, thank God). Had this occurred there would have been no money available for Sandy type emergencies. In terms of schools as cited above she fails to mention the 10r scam that was finally revealed when Kids First finally had the audit discussed rather that just adopted as in the past. That portion of the meting was "accidentally" deleted by Patrick Riccardi of data theft fame.
CuriousGal February 19, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Details of the $20,000,000.00 2010 surplus can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/aegjjzr (SS has said it was more like $14 million, $11 million, $10 million, pick your number....)-- regardless, certainly enough for an infrastructure improvement. What is the cost for 3 years without a park? Regarding "10r"-- that was explained in detail in fall 2012: http://tinyurl.com/a3t5ua4 (summary: Kids First revealed nothing)
HudsonStreet February 20, 2013 at 02:52 AM
Sadly we have all seen CuriouGal regurgitating the same lies and talking points that Beth Mason has done over and over again.
Ojo Rojo February 20, 2013 at 03:58 AM
How many times are you going to change your tune when you get called out for lying? You have been repeating the $20mm surplus lie that Mason propagated for going on a year and every time you get called on it you retreat and start up with more nonsense. Good thing you aren't a journalist b/c you sure suck at fact checking.
puzzledone February 20, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Ah yes...a Hoboken 411 article...and a letter to the editor saying "Stuff happened, but not the stuff you thought, and none of it is our fault". Nothing like a little truthiness to start your day.
ThisMeansWar February 20, 2013 at 04:30 PM
I notice that when you don't think the reading public will completely ridicule a source, you give the true URL. But when it's a clown like Petrosino or a joke like Hoboken411, you use tinyurl. That's probably a good idea. You wouldn't want people see that your using that drek as "source material".
Eric February 20, 2013 at 04:36 PM
CG, why are you so against having savings in "the bank"? Smart people sock money away to use in an emergency rather than rely on credit cards and loans to put up money they don't have.
CuriousGal February 20, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Of course I favor having some savings in "the bank" as you point out. It is reasonable and prudent with family finances as well as municipal financing. I do find it unsettling however that the administration's financial "principles" are so fiscally extreme that they would sacrifice a thousand days of park use for tens of thousands of our citizens for less than 2% of a surplus documented to be well north of $10 million dollars.
CuriousGal February 20, 2013 at 11:22 PM
I believe Hoboken411 is as informative as Mr. Da Horsey and I believe the Hoboken Reporter is a reputable local newspaper. Many others do as well. Here is another tiny url: http://tinyurl.com/af49tg8
Scott M. Siegel February 20, 2013 at 11:51 PM
VIDEO: Christie says he's 'looking at every alternative' to stop Meadowlands, Hoboken flooding http://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2013/02/video_christie_says_hes_looking_at_every_alternative_to_stop_meadowlands_hoboken_flooding.html#incart_river
Scott M. Siegel February 20, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Weighing Sea Barriers as Protection for New York http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/08/nyregion/after-hurricane-sandy-debating-costly-sea-barriers-in-new-york-area.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Scott M. Siegel February 21, 2013 at 01:48 AM
CG and Hoboken411. What a shock. 1) Dawn was raided by the FBI. 2) Ian sacs was guilty. 3) $20 million "slush fund" etc, etc.....
Lois Gross February 21, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Respectfully, we need the pumps that were promised, earlier. Walls, if they work, are only part of solution. The water came up, in many places, not down. Also, local realtors need to be forced to reveal the potential for flooding on particularly flood-prone streets. Just as you must disclose structural faults in a house, this is an important decision-maker for people who are investing as much money as the (overpriced) Hoboken market requires. All cards should be on the table, including the flood card.
Martin February 26, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Growing protests of FEMA's erroneous flood maps, over-kill elevation mandates and exorbitant insurance costs: ==> http://tomsriver.patch.com/articles/overcrowding-forces-cops-to-halt-stop-fema-now-meeting ==> Join our fight to get the misguided 2012 Biggert-Waters Act corrected!

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