Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Special City Council Meeting @ 7:00

Three big items on the special meeting agenda tonight: the Western Edge redevelopment plan, a budget amendment and a special closed session on litigation.

The City of Hoboken recently left the uptown Willow Street location after negotiations on the space with Hoboken Unleashed failed.  Hoboken Unleashed called the city's bluff on leaving and although they went to Superior Court in Jersey City to get off the property, now that the city has vacated before their 60 day lease's expiration, Hoboken Unleashed has said it intends to continue litigation.  Expect to see this snuffed by the Superior Court judge.  (Hoboken Unleashed has begun zoning variance applications needed to move their business on to the property but it will take several months before approval can be obtained.  Now the landlord of the property loses the extra income from the city and Hoboken Unleashed is left thinking about an imaginary payday.)

With the City returning to the site of the Municipal Garage, the developer who claims it intended to deliver on the $25.5 million price is now posturing to get the $2.55 million deposit back with legal fees of a couple of hundred thousand.  The developer, S. Hekemian could have gotten close to this earlier.  But they didn't want to hurt the ability to bid on other projects with a black mark on their record by defaulting outright.

As MSV said earlier, the fight would be over the deposit.  So tonight's closed session may be regarding this matter.  If you see it on Hoboken411 tomorrow painted in some dire warning, then you can be sure it was fed to them by either Councilwoman Beth Mason or Councilman Mike Russo.  Their efforts at sabotaging the city at every turn have been consistent, as in consistently bad.

City announces flood and wind advisory with free and low cost parking option


The National Weather Service has announced that a flood watch is in effect from late Wednesday night on September 29th through late Friday night. A high wind watch is also in effect from Thursday morning through late Thursday night.

The characteristics of this storm will be tropical in nature. This weather system is the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole which is now an exo-tropical system. 

Rain is expected to begin in the late evening hours of Wednesday September 29th and be light in nature. The rain will continue through Thursday September 30th and into the early morning hours of Friday October 1st, tapering off just after sunrise. 

The rain is expected to be heavy all day Thursday with 1-3 inches of rain probable in the Hudson County area. Urban flooding can also be expected.

There is also the potential for high winds. Winds will be 15-25 MPH sustained with gusts of 40-50 MPH possible on Thursday after 3:00pm. 

Residents are reminded that overnight parking from 8pm to 8am is available in Municipal Garages B, D, and Midtown for $5. In the case that a flood warning is issued, the City of Hoboken will provide free parking in Municipal Garage B (located on 2nd Street between Hudson and River streets) and waive the $5 fee for residents in flood prone areas with a valid residency parking permit. This policy does not apply to Garages D and Midtown – only for those parked in Garage B.

Residents parked on the street during the day are encouraged to monitor weather reports and move vehicles to higher ground if there is the potential for flooding, which occurs when strong rains coincide with high tides.

Flood prone areas of Hoboken
• Observer Highway & Marshall DriveHarrison Street, & Henderson Street
• Newark Street & Bloomfield Street
• Newark Street & Garden Street
• First Street from Willow Avenue to Clinton Street
• First Street & Harrison Street
• Paterson Plank Road at Marshall Drive and Harrison Street
• Third, Fourth & Fifth streets & Jackson Street
• Fourth Street from Monroe Street to Harrison Street
• Second Street & Harrison Street
• Eighth, Ninth & Tenth streets & Madison Street (area surrounding Shop-Rite)
• Thirteenth Street & Jefferson Street

This information is provided to assist residents in avoiding potential flooding but may not be comprehensive and should not be considered expert advice.

Wind Precautions
High winds are possible in Hoboken this Thursday, September 30th. Be sure your property (including construction sites) is secure.

Bring in unsecured objects from patios and balconies and secure outdoor objects such as lawn furniture or garbage cans that could blow away and cause damage or injury.

The safest place to be during high winds is indoors. If at all possible postpone outdoor activities.
Watch for flying debris. Tree limbs may break and street signs may become loose during strong wind gusts. Keep an eye toward nearby balconies for loose objects that may fall.

Report downed lines to 201-420-2007 (Hoboken Fire Department) or 911 for assistance. Do not try to free lines or to remove debris yourself.

Avoid anything that may be touching downed lines, including vehicles or tree branches. Warn others to stay away.

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City announces big updates on Western Edge, budget and police layoffs

City of Hoboken announces:


The Administration is providing updates on several topics of interest to the community.

Western Edge Redevelopment Plan
The Western Edge Redevelopment Plan is the first item for consideration at this evening’s City Council meeting. Several members of the City Council, which is the redevelopment agency for the City, have expressed interest in postponing consideration of the Western Edge Redevelopment Plan in order to solicit additional input from the community. The community concerns have been largely focused on the amount of open space presented in the plan.

The Administration, working with the Trust for Public Land, has been in discussions and negotiations for the last year to acquire a large area of land adjacent to the Western Edge for a park. The property known as the Henkel site is owned by Cognis. The City currently has $3 million in funding to acquire the site, and the Administration has applied for additional Green Acres funding. The Administration’s intention has been to develop the Western Edge in concert with the adjacent planned park at the Henkel site. The City was close to an agreement to purchase the site, but because Cognis is now being bought out by another entity, discussions were delayed until the closing of the purchase, scheduled for the end of November. The Trust for Public Land has been in communication with the company acquiring the Hankel site, and they are very receptive to working with City.

Unlike previous plans, the proposed Western Edge Redevelopment Plan includes a guaranteed location for the long-promised community center with pool which must be built before developers can open their buildings. The plan brings balanced development, including much-needed retail and commercial space, to Northwest Hoboken which has seen close to 100% residential development over the past 10 years. In addition, the mixed usage helps reduce the tax burden caused by services required by residential development.

Municipal Budget
The State of New Jersey conducted a review of the introduced Municipal Budget. Based on feedback received from the review on Friday, September 24th as well as from the budget workshops held with department directors and the Chiefs of Police and Fire, an amendment to the budget will be proposed which includes necessary technical corrections and statutory obligations, but which will not change the total levy amount of the budget.  Click here to view the proposed amendment.

The Council will vote on a resolution to advertise the amendment, and if passed, another public hearing will take place on October 6th on the amendment and the budget. The public will have an opportunity at tonight’s meeting and at the future meeting to provide input on the budget and the proposed amendment.

Police Layoffs
The Administration is on track to meeting the goals of creating a more efficient and cost-effective Police force while increasing street patrols by 38 percent. However, meeting those goals while avoiding layoffs will require both the approval of the interlocal agreement between the City and the Hoboken Housing Authority and the follow-through on the commitments to retire from seven Police officers. Mayor Zimmer trusts the integrity of the Police officers who have stated their intention to retire. She therefore expects that there will be no need for any of our young Police officers to lose their jobs. If the officers who have indicated their intention to retire in writing follow through, then the layoffs will be permanently canceled on December 2nd.  The planned demotions will still take place on December 2nd with adjustments made to reflect all retirements which may occur.

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Lenz to Occhipinti - 'You Lie!'

Lenz for Council announces:

4th Ward Councilman Mike Lenz Responds to Opponents False Allegations.

Councilman Lenz responds:

“To begin with, I welcome Tim Occhipinti to the discussion about Clean Campaigns.  It is ironic for Tim to accuse someone else of breaking a pledge that he refuses to sign or seriously acknowledge, all in a video that is missing legally required paid for language.

As to his two charges, he is wrong on his facts and misleading in his insinuations.  To be completely clear: I stand behind my pledge.

Street Money
The pledge calls for “Street Money” and makes clear I am talking about CASH payments.  It goes on and says “all payments for Election Day Workers will be by check and will be fully recorded on ELEC reports.”  I followed that in 2001 and I’ll follow that this year.  One more point --The fact that Tim is able to falsely attack me is because my ELECs were filed and complete with all checks recorded.

Absentee Ballots and Buying Votes
Tim is talking about my – perfectly legal and above board – hiring of 30 election day workers because he doesn’t want to talk about what his campaign is doing.  I hired 30 residents, legally and paid by check, to help get out my message.  Another reason was to have people in our T-Shirts to counter the intimidation factor of hundreds of paid ‘workers’ supporting my opponent.  Given what those fine people went through that day, they certainly earned their pay.  I would be proud to have enough money to hire them again.  All heard my message, but none were required to fill out an absentee ballot, vote for me, or even vote in order to get paid.  Those will be the rules this year as well.  I challenge Tim to make the same commitment.

Late Filing
I remember submitting all my ELEC reports in 2001, but after being appointed to the council, I thought to check them online to ensure everything was posted and complete.  What I found to my surprise was that my final report was missing.  I immediately checked my files at home where I found my filed copy of the completed report from almost a decade ago.  I checked with ELEC and was told to re-submit it along with a note explaining it had been previously filed, which I did.  ELEC accepted my submission, put it on the web, and has taken no action to indicate I have done anything wrong. 

Campaign Manager Sam Briggs added:

“Tim is now trying to run a ‘campaign of misdirection and slight of hand’   Tim is trying to draw attention from his own misdeeds and backroom deals, but the fact remains that Tim is unable to sign the pledge himself since he will be in violation from day one.  As of today, only the Mike Lenz campaign has completed and submitted all ELEC, and only Mike Lenz has made a commitment to not have any able-bodied paid worker vote absentee.  

Why can't Tim sign on to these common sense initiatives?  Because Mike Novak, a high-ranking member of Tim's Campaign team ( currently has missing ELEC forms from his run with Former Mayor and current Inmate Peter Cammarano's campaign last year. Further, despite telling the press the opposite (  Tim is already personally running a shadow absentee vote campaign that is working day and night to disenfranchise the residents of the 4th Ward (  

Additionally it’s sad that Tim has chosen to distract and muddy the waters on a day when there are many big issues affecting the 4th Ward:

1.       Last night at a zoning board hearing, the proposed developer of 38 Jackson, who is associated with current Occhipinti Mentor and Former Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons, pulled his zoning board application so that it can be reheard in a couple months.  What happens in a couple months?  Three zoning board seats are up before the City Council, and if Tim wins, the developer will once again have a 'business as usual' rubber stamp zoning board.  Additionally, Tim has already stated on his own website that he is in favor of giant tax abatements for developers (PILOTS), increasing tax burdens on the already stressed residents of the 4th Ward.

 2.       Tonight there is the final budget workshop and budget adoption.  Residents of the 4th Ward need lower taxes and Councilman Lenz is working with Mayor Zimmer to start by bringing a 5% tax cut in this transitional six month budget. But if Tim is on the City Council, he has already shown his unwillingness to make the tough personnel decisions that are required to continue bringing down taxes (  He has continually stood up against all measures the city has taken to bring down costs and increase our financial footing.

Councilman Lenz will not ‘apologize’ for proposing we run a Clean Campaign, and for Tim to even ask for such a ‘silly’ idea just shows how out of touch he is from the residents of the 4th Ward.  Mike Lenz is proud to stand with Mayor Zimmer and fight for lower taxes, balanced development, an end to flooding, and a better quality of life.  Tim Occhipiniti and his cast of shady characters are once again showing their true colors:  lying to the public, a return to 'politics as usual', and corruption in Hoboken."

Guest of the Stable: Zabrina Stoffel of Project Play on concerns about Western Edge plan

URGENT: Your presence needed at City Council meeting Wednesday 9/29 at 7pm

You may or may not be aware of the plans to redevelop the North Western edge of Hoboken. If you are not, please read Western edge redevelopment.

I attended the meeting on September 15th, 2010 and left VERY concerned about the plan presented and slated to go to the City Council on Wednesday September 29th for review and then to the Planning Board for approval and then back to the City Council for a favorable vote.

What am I asking from you? 

COME TO THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING AT 7pm on WEDNESDAY September 29th (at City Hall) and ask the City Council not to rush into sending the plan to the Planning Department. Ask them for a meeting to hear your input. 

What's wrong with the plan?
In my humble opinion, a few major things. First and foremost, the City did not solicit any input from residents or the current owners of the property. They merely took criticisms from the last time they tried to designate this a redevelopment zone (and failed), removed some open space and represented it.

Tim Occhipinti charges Mike Lenz with multiple ELEC violations

Occhipinti: 'Time for Lenz to apologize to Hoboken's 4th ward residents'

Occhipinti for Council announces:

Occhipinti calls on Lenz to apologize for breaking his own ‘clean election pledge’

(HOBOKEN) 4th Ward City Council candidate Tim Occhipinti called on Michael Lenz to apologize to residents of the 4th Ward for already breaking his own “clean election pledge.” Lenz broke his own pledge, first by paying out “street money,” then waiting 8 years to file a report with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC). 

According to his ELEC filings, Michael Lenz paid out thousands of dollars in “street money” during his unsuccessful 2001 city council campaign. The records show more than 30 people were paid “street money” on Election Day, 2001.

According to Lenz’s pledge on “street money:” I pledge to make NO cash payments to workers on Election Day for any reason.

“This is the kind of hypocrisy that turns voters off to elections. Michael Lenz says one thing and does the complete opposite,” said Occhipinti. “A pledge is only a pledge if you intend to keep it. Michael Lenz has already broken this one.”

According to the same documents, Lenz also failed to file his ELEC report for the campaign until 2010, eight years late.

Lenz’s pledge on ELEC filing: Promote transparency by making all required Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) submissions, making every effort to meet established deadlines and promptly posting all ELEC submissions on our own website.

“In the eight years between his unsuccessful city council campaign in 2001 and his ELEC filing in 2010, Michael Lenz missed 30 ELEC report filing deadlines,” said Occhipinti. “Those are just two of the ways that Michael Lenz has violated his own so-called clean election pledge. When Michael Lenz talks about ethics, it seems he’s saying: Do as I say, not as I do.”

Occhipinti called on Lenz to put the political showmanship to rest and “apologize to the people of the 4th Ward for even proposing this cynical pledge, which he obviously never intended to keep himself.”

You can see Occhipinti’s full statement on his campaign blog:

NJ Transit Project - still more questions than answers on initial scaled back plan

NJ Transit came to the Hoboken Terminal Waiting Room to present a scaled back initial plan and did so while making hundreds of spectators await the punch line - a 17 to 26 floor main structure first to go up where the bus depot is now situated.

Indicating a "world class tenant" was available if Hoboken's city government would approve the plan in the next three to six months, NJ Transit said the plan would revitalize much of the area with over two million in annual tax revenues to the city while bringing along 1700 employees of the new company to Hoboken.

NJ Transit Sr. Director John Leon: "Friends, Hobokenites, countrymen: lend me your ears.

Along with those nuggets, NJ Transit stated the overall investment would execute the $240 million project with many improvements: bus and ferry areas, new promenade, bike racks, storefronts and more but all conditional on the City of Hoboken's approval within the next six months.

A forty-five minute presentation went on and on with nervous looks from NJ Transit officials observing the large crowd's reaction as the elephant in the room failed to arrive until the very end.  Finally a rendering of a non-descript building seen from the Hudson River was shown but the crowd weathered down with humidity showed no enthusiasm but more of a collective soft exhale.  Relief?  It's tough to say but the early reactions from different corners of Hoboken show plenty of concern for what NJ Transit has in store for the majority of the rail yard before embracing a first step in this small parcel.

Current bus area - the site of the a potential building
rendered overview of new promenade
area of emphasis
the mystery building, still a mystery - courtesy of the Hoboken Journal

Talking Ed Note:  It's a tribute of sorts to the public that even a vastly scaled back NJ Transit plan has initially been met with a wait and see attitude.