Thursday, December 17, 2015

Council President Ravi Bhalla: 'Historic opportunity to address flooding'

From the desk of City Council President Ravi Bhalla:


Dear Friends and Neighbors - 

As you may know, a historic opportunity is before us to address flooding in Hoboken. Through the advocacy efforts of Mayor Zimmer, last year Hoboken received $230 million in federal funding to implement a plan to keep our City safe from the massive flooding we have seen in the past, including the terrible damage stemming from Hurricane Sandy. 
For the past several months, I have served as co-chair of a Citizens Advisory Group (CAG), which is made up of dedicated local residents who want to ensure the needs of the community are met as we work toward a very important decision about how to utilize these funds.  It is important to note that the State of New Jersey and federal government, not the City Council or the Mayor, will make the final decision on this plan.  This makes it all the more critical for Hoboken residents to speak up so our City’s needs and desires are represented in the planning process. 
I am asking you to please come to a drop in session at 221 Jackson St. tonight, Thursday, Dec. 17 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. so you can learn more about the concepts presented to date and offer your feedback to the State Department of Environmental Protection and its professionals.  There will be engineers and state officials on hand to address any questions you may have about this historic project for Hoboken.
Earlier this week, residents expressed frustration about the idea of flood “walls” in neighborhoods and along our waterfront, which is included in the proposed concepts. In my capacity as co-chair of the CAG, I share the frustration and anger regarding some of the concepts being presented – particularly the ones that would negatively impact our treasured waterfront or brownstone neighborhoods. However, the selection process legally requires a certain number of potential concepts to be presented, and then it is up to us to decide which ones are feasible starting points and which ones we consider to be “non-starters.” While there are concerns about barriers for flood protection, my expectation is that they would be designed in a manner that integrates them into our urban landscape without adversely impacting property values, waterfront views, or any aspect of the quality of life for Hoboken’s residents.   For example, they could be designed as park benches, planters, or other community amenities.
I cannot stress enough how much of a historic opportunity we have presented before us. We need to protect our City from the devastation of a Hurricane Sandy and the “resist” portion of the Rebuild By Design federal grant may be our only chance to save Hoboken from a similarly devastating weather event. As co-chair of the Citizens Advisory Group, I will continue to be very involved in this process, and I hope to see you all on Thursday evening.
Please feel free to e-mail me at councilmanbhalla@gmail.com if you have any feedback on these concepts or if you have any questions for me. Click here for more information.
I hope to see you tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at 221 Jackson Street! 
Sincerely,
Ravinder S. BhallaCity Council President
Councilman-at-Large

http://www.ravinderbhalla.com/