Monday, June 18, 2012

Mayor Zimmer letter to council: Parks, NJ Transit, EmNet, 1600 Park...

The Office of the Mayor announces:

Update from Mayor Zimmer on Various Issues

In a memo to the City Council, Mayor Dawn Zimmer provides an update on a variety of important topics including land acquisition for park space, NJ Transit redevelopment, 1600 Park, flooding, and more. Click here to download the full memo. The text of the memo is also included below.
June 18, 2012
Dear City Council Members,
I am writing to provide updates on a number of very important projects. Please call me or the Business Administrator prior to the Council meeting to discuss any of these issues in further detail and so we can answer any questions you may have.
Henkel/Pino Sites for Park Space
On the agenda this week is an ordinance that would grant my Administration the authority to negotiate and if necessary, begin eminent domain proceedings to purchase land for new parks at the Henkel and Pino sites. At the last Council meeting, the Council awarded a contract to conduct appraisals on these properties, which as you know are currently vacant lots. We have received excellent proposals for attorneys that specialize in land use, real estate, and environmental law. We are completing the evaluation process today and will be providing the Council with a recommendation for a law firm as soon as possible.
Southwest Park & Area in Need of Rehabilitation
I am grateful that the Council voted to give my Administration the tools needed to acquire land for a Southwest park. We will continue negotiations with the owners to acquire Block 12, a nearly 1 acre property. Before you is a resolution to declare portions of the Southwest an Area in need of Rehabilitation. Through the Rehabilitation process, we can revitalize the neighborhood through a comprehensive planning process, bring needed amenities to the Southwest including restaurants, and determine how best to create additional park space. I hope you will support this effort. The Southwest Area Redevelopment Study has been previously provided to you and is on the City
NJ Transit Redevelopment
My Administration has been working with our planner, Wallace Roberts & Todd, the Zoning and Economic Development Subcommittee, and the community, to complete a redevelopment plan for the NJ Transit site. As the attached letters between myself and NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein note, we just received some information we have been requesting for more than a year. We are working to evaluate the information provided and finalize a plan for introduction as soon as possible.
Union Dry Dock
A few residents had suggested to me that they believed NJ Transit and NY Waterway was in negotiations to acquire the Union Dry Dock [UDD] property for use as a ferry maintenance facility. I asked NJ Transit and NY Waterway about this and expressed my concerns about the future of our waterfront in terms of its use for open space and walkway. James Weinstein, the Executive Director of NJ Transit, responded that “NJ TRANSIT has been discussing potential acquisition of the UDD property for use as a ferry maintenance and fueling facility. However, we have had no discussion of which I am aware with the owner of the property. Nonetheless, should this project go forward, NJ TRANSIT recognizes and respects the longstanding community interest in the role the Union Dry Dock property can play in the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, as well as in Hoboken’s open space plans for the City, and would work with you and the City to determine how best to integrate the walkway into plans for the property.” My letter and his response are attached.
There are a variety of updates to provide regarding various waterfront projects including Sinatra Park, Pier A and the 9/11 Memorial which will be located on Pier A. We will be providing additional information shortly and scheduling a special meeting for next week where our professionals will also be available to provide updates and answer any questions.
1600 Park
The consultants from Remington, Vernick & Arango (RVA) and Imbiano Quigley Landscape Architects (IQ) have been working diligently on the details of the project and preparation of the bid specifications for 1600 Park and Hoboken Cove.  As you may recall, in September 2011 the City decided to re-design the field at 1600 Park and integrate the two parks into a more comprehensive, interconnected park. The City undertook a process with the stakeholders for this project and the general public to finalize a conceptual design. This design was presented and discussed at a public hearing on January 23, 2012. Since that time, the City and consultants have coordinated with the County and the stakeholders to determine appropriate phasing for the project and to finalize the bid specifications accordingly.
As part of the revised contract with RVA, we brought on board a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) for the 1600 Park and Hoboken Cove project, as we revised the project to shift soil from the 1600 Park site to the Hoboken Cove site in order to reduce the elevation of the field to make the park more cohesive and to ensure more visibility of activities on the field. The LSRP is responsible for compliance with all applicable NJDEP regulations relative to the remediation of the known contamination at the site, as the State of New Jersey has transitioned away from the oversight internally and put the responsibility on the independent LSRPs.  As such, RVA obtained all of the available historical information from the DEP and spoke to the prior NJDEP Case Manager and the engineer in charge of construction maintenance of the environmental remediation at the sites. In doing so, the LSRP discovered that there are some unresolved issues and likely additional remediation that needs to be done.
This additional remediation work will not hold up the first phase of this project — the construction of the field at the 1600 Park site. The engineer and landscape architect are expected to complete the bid specifications for that portion of the work in order to advertise for bid in early August. Barring any issues with permitting or bidding, that will accommodate a September bid award and construction may begin on the construction of the full 1600 Park site as soon as a contract is executed. The expected construction timeframe for the full 1600 Park site is approximately 90 days. That coincides with the County constructing the signal at 16th Street and Park Avenue this fall.
The environmental investigation for the Hoboken Cove site is expected to be complete this summer and bid specifications for the construction of the Hoboken Cove site will be finalized thereafter.  Therefore, the second phase to finish remediation and construct the Hoboken Cove improvements will be out to bid this fall for construction in the spring of 2013.
The remaining phases include the boathouse design and construction, the beach/water access improvements, and improvements under the two viaducts. These phases will require additional funding. The top priority is to build the boat house, so the City will seek funding for that phase. The improvements under the viaduct cannot be paid for with Green Acres or Open Space funding, as their primary use is for transportation. Therefore, we will need to more creatively seek funding for those improvements and work closely with the County to ensure safe design.
My Administration remains committed to comprehensively addressing the flooding issues that remain on the Western side of the City through engineering solutions and green infrastructure. We would like to extend the work EmNet did last year by relocating the sensors to other areas in order to further our understanding of our flooding problem (Attached is the final report produced by EmNet, which provided us with significant, new information about our sewer system). This technology will enable us to gather more data which will be key to informing the work of a professional engineering/green infrastructure team we will be hiring to develop a comprehensive green, storm water management plan. In the past, we have coordinated with the North Hudson Sewerage Authority to coordinate locations for the sensors, and we will be meeting with commissioners this week to explain the program and ask for them to partner with us in this effort both logistically and financially. In order to collect the most useful data possible, it is important that we move ahead with this project before the rain season arrives.
Steve Rofsky
Steve Rofsky, a board member of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority, was an unsung hero of our City. Sadly, he passed away on Thursday, June 14, 2012. He only lived in Hoboken for a few years, but his service to our community has created a legacy that will benefit the people of Hoboken for years to come. His contributions to the saving of our hospital as a hospital financial expert were absolutely invaluable. I extend my condolences to his wife Toby, his two sons, and all of his family and friends.
Thank you for listening, and please do not hesitate to call me or the Business Administrator if you have any questions about any of these issues.
Mayor Zimmer

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HHA board applicants line up for consideration at upcoming City Council meeting Wednesday night


Several applications for the open HHA commissioner position are available for the City Council Wednesday but only two are likely seeking consideration.

Local business owner Joseph Branco who lobbied council members for weeks prior to the last HHA vote eventually lost out to at-large City Councilman David Mello who took over the expired seat of Councilman Michael Russo.  His recent application remains active and he noted via email he views it similarly.

Joseph Branco (r) speaking with Councilman Peter Cunningham at a local restaurant.

Branco had been a supporter of former mayor Peter Cammarano until his surprise arrest and resignation and has actively supported Mayor Zimmer since along with neighbor and colleague Carmelo Garcia at the BoE.  He's recently attended BoE meetings and voiced complaint about access to the Hoboken High School pool for a weekend family event along with opposing the Kids First majority.  In recent months Branco has actively backed local charity efforts hosting fundraisers for Hoboken fire victims at Room 84.

The other applicant vying for the appointment is Greg Lincoln, the upstart 2011 council candidate who drew over 400 votes in the 3rd ward election against the long entrenched Russo clan in the form of Councilman Michael Russo.  Lincoln now a 4th ward resident where much of the HHA resides ran an aggressive campaign highlighting corruption and the FBI surveillance tapes of Russo and federal informant Solomon Dwek.

In the end, Russo himself ran a focused campaign easily winning by drawing from his subsidized base of neighbors at Church Towers but Lincoln earned accolades for his come out of nowhere effort.

Five votes are required to be appointed by the City Council and in the last nomination, Branco earned all four council minority votes.

Greg Lincoln (r) attended the Malibu Diner book signing of The Jersey Sting getting an autographed copy from co-authors Ted Sherman (l) and Josh Margolin.

Talking Ed Note: After the complaints about the opening at the HHA, expect the battle to quickly move on to the two candidates vying for the seat.

The council agenda did not show a name mistakenly entered on the resolution.

Unrelated: At Hoboken Patch, Beth Mason's minion family continues to speculate on every possible thing under the sun about getting a traffic ticket.  MSV can confirm the Council President was insured as he stated last week and the car was tended to appropriately.

Do you think you can get Mason operatives to address the Mason Civic League?

City Council primed to name new swing seat HHA commissioner

On the City Council agenda Wednesday night is an important nomination and vote for a new HHA commissioner.  The position formerly held by Marianne Camporeale became available at the last Hoboken Housing Authority meeting when it was confirmed the commissioner had failed to satisfy course requirements within a required 18 month timeframe.

While the Hudson Reporter claimed Friday it was "a rumor," the law and past history in Hoboken suggests the exact opposite.  Assemblyman Ruben Ramos found himself in a similar predicament in 2003 when then Executive Troy Washington announced at a HHA meeting, "The DCA has indicated to me that Commissioner Ramos has not completed two courses that are required.  Therefore, as of today, Ramos is considered to have resigned his position."

Similarly in 2001, another HHA commissioner, Father Michael Gugliemelli had to step down from his seat for failure to complete required coursework.

Back in March, the governing body, the NJ Department of Community Affairs issued a letter confirming yet again any Housing commissioner who fails to meet their course requirements within eighteen months "shall be deemed resigned."

Marianne Camporeale's time requirement to complete her coursework was up last January.  She's reported to have said she completed five of six courses to the Hudson Reporter but in actuality, she's completed three of five required courses.  There's questions on whether any close votes she participated in will require review and another vote after a reorganized board meets.  

That and other questions on past HHA business within a vote differential including the vote for chair of the HHA will be revisited after the City Council selects a new candidate to finish ex-Commissioner Camporeale's existing term.  HHA commissioner Jake Stuiver lost to current and past chair Jeanne Rodriguez by a single vote last month.

A letter has not been received from the DCA to the HHA as of Friday but Councilman Dave Mello who recently began as an HHA commissioner noted it's anticipated.

Executive Director Carmelo Garica has noted no letter has arrived but the rules and the sample letter above confirms the "resignation" is already effective.

HHA Executive Director Caremelo Garcia told the Hudson Reporter no letter "enforcing" the resignation of Maryanne Camporeale was received from the DCA.  Recent and distant history says the facts are what the law says they are and Camporeale is "deemed to have resigned," due to failure to meet an 18 month statute on course completion.

Talking Ed Note: Very strong undercurrents on the impact of a new HHA commissioner taking over the "swing" seat on the seven member board.  

Expect to see massive crocodile tears shed from the Old Guard Wednesday night on both sides of the dais over this surprising chain of events.  The HHA has been exploited for decades at election time with hundreds of paper ballots being produced to deliver results in favor of  the machine syndicate.

In the past two years, the BoE elections have seen several hundred vote-by-mail ballots but they were not decisive in those recent elections.  They were however mathematically out of proportion, absurdly so to each of Hoboken's five other wards.

Councilman Tim Occhipinti has been a recipient of such absurd largesse of HHA votes including a tsunami 500 submitted paper ballots in the 4th ward special election in November 2010.  That election he earned about 40% of his total voting ballots in paper and saw the election landed up as a point of controversy with challenges going to the NJ Attorney General's Office.

MSV is aware the following May 2011 election showed a more typical several hundred paper ballots for Occhipinti with one Hoboken resident stating right in front of the City Council afterward an obvious orchestration of cash payments were made to the residents being told to vote for Occhipinti on marked bills with his ballot position.  (MSV found itself alone in citing this as the resident's first hand account was ignored.)  

It's thought the cash effort was to balance out the paper ballot effort and ensure Tim Occhipinti's election.  Last July, MSV with the aid of reader McGato did an analysis asking, "Did Rami Pinchevsky beat Tim Occhipinti in the 4th ward election?"

If you need to now why the Old Guard will be fighting to the death to stop Reform naming a replacement for the HHA seat, there's part of the answer.

The other "part" is being raised by a source of Grafix Avenger with the implication oversight into the financial accounting at the HHA may be in the works with Reform eyeing a new majority on the board.

All the more to make for a desperate Machine to fight for its life.  The implications of a new HHA commissioner go far beyond the confines of the HHA and whoever the City Council approves must have a sterling reputation for integrity.