UPDATE AND THANK YOU FROM MAYOR ZIMMER ON REBUILD BY DESIGN
Thank you to everyone who voiced their views on the Rebuild by Design Project through the last four community meetings and in writing.
I met last week with NJDEP Commissioner Martin and shared our community's serious concerns directly with him and based on ongoing public input, the NJDEP is currently reviewing alternative options within the five concepts. I have made it clear that a flood protection feature on Garden Street between 12th and 14th Streets is not a publicly supported concept. I am optimistic that the State will address those objections.
As we move ahead, I want to make sure that everyone understands that the public process is real and meaningful. Since I have been Mayor, we have engaged in a robust public planning process with every major project including park design and redevelopment plans. In every instance, the public planning process has resulted in significant positive changes to the preliminary proposals. I encourage everyone to continue voicing constructive suggestions so that together we can help chart the best course to take advantage of this historic opportunity to protect our City from future coastal storms and sea level rise.
I want to address a few concerns that I have heard during the last three meetings:
Is the Resist strategy necessary?
Yes, it is absolutely necessary. However, last week I heard from some residents who advocated for the idea that we would be better off simply abandoning the “Resist” strategy to protect Hoboken from future storm surges, even if that meant returning the $230 million grant.
Doing nothing on the Resist strategy is not an option. The storm surge generated by Sandy resulted in approximately 500 million gallons of water from the Hudson River flooding our City. The Resist strategy is a critical component of any comprehensive solution to protect our community. No matter how effective our Delay, Store and Discharge strategies are, they could never handle 500 million gallons of water. We need to first Resist from the water entering our City or we will be severely flooded again with the next Sandy-type storm surge. All of the components of the four-part water management strategy, Resist, Delay, Store, and Discharge, are necessary to protect our City.
During the last 30 years, New Jersey has been impacted by a major hurricane every five to six years. Scientists predict that storms will continue to become more severe, so it is important that Hoboken is protected from another disastrous hurricane in the future. Some scientists have explained that the storm surge from Sandy was not nearly as bad as it could have been -- it did not have the strong winds and rain that usually accompany a major storm. In fact, Hurricane Joaquin, when it was predicted to reach our region this past fall, was predicted to be worse than Sandy due to its powerful winds and rain. Working together, we need to protect our community from future severe storm events.
Does the project need to include “walls” within our City?
The renderings that were shown were preliminary concepts, not finalized plans, meant to show that community amenities could be integrated into flood protection measures. I agree with resident concerns regarding access to the waterfront and about impacts to residential neighborhoods and have conveyed those concerns directly to the State. Residents have already provided some great suggestions on alternative approaches that are currently under review.
Why aren’t we using local experts from Stevens to develop solutions?
We are. Stevens engineering professors with expertise in modeling coastal flooding have been hired by the NJDEP and are conducting a peer review of the work throughout the process.
Are we just doing this project for future development?
Absolutely not. Sandy flooded nearly 80% of our City -- existing residents and businesses suffered; not new development. This project will protect the thousands of Hoboken residents and businesses that were devastated by Sandy and Irene and are vulnerable from future storm surges. It will also benefit our entire community by protecting critical infrastructure such as our hospital, electrical substations, sewage treatment plant and police and fire stations.
Why are we considering measures that do not protect 100% of our City?
It is simply not possible to protect 100 percent of our City without impacting access to our waterfront. As I have explained at the community meetings, a balance needs to be struck that protects areas most at risk while preserving the waterfront access that helps make our City such a special place.
Is there something that can be done to help buildings that might not benefit directly from the final preferred flood protection measure?
Yes, the City is considering measures that will do just that. There are different strategies that individual buildings could implement within their buildings to protect against flooding. I am proposing an infrastructure trust fund to provide public funding for these localized flood protection measures.
Thank you again to everyone for your active involvement in the community process. Through this project, I am confident that we can arrive at a well-designed solution that both protects our City, integrates into our wonderful urban landscape, and preserves access to our waterfront.
I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday and a very happy New Year.