Saturday, May 19, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'Hoboken updates amidst dreary weather'

Official release:


Dear friends and neighbors:

Hopefully, this update on Hoboken issues will find its perfect place amongst today’s dreary weather and the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.  There are some attachments and action items that I hope you will consider for today and this week as well.  This weekend's update includes: 
  • Connecting the Dots:  Today’s Diaper Drive for Families in Need
  • NYWW/Former UDD site – ACOE public comments due 5/24; Alternative Site Analysis 
  • NJ Transit Buses
  • Messy Wires and Cables
  • Return of a Stop Sign and Stanchions
  • Washington St. – meeting with Businesses
  • A few other upcoming and noteworthy
Two things I have come to realize are that many of our neighbors are not aware of all the amazing non-profits and organizations in Hoboken that provide necessary and supportive services to our more vulnerable neighbors.  And that most people want to find ways to give back in their own community.  I want help connect these two dots.  So with each update I send going forward, I will try to include a new series called “CONNECTINGlTHElDOTS” with information on a local organization and ways you can potentially support this organization.  If there is ever any you want me to include, please let me know.  I attended an event at HOPES CAP on Thursday evening, so today I am starting dot connecting with them…
CONNECTINGlTHElDOTS:  HOPES – DIAPER DRIVE TODAY (5/19).  
Imagine if you or your friends could not afford diapers for your babies and young children.  If you have the means, please consider donating diapers TODAY (of all ages) to assist the families of HOPES Early Childhood Program who struggle to make ends meet.  You can drop them off tonight between 9pm-2am at Maggie’s Place, 87 Jefferson St., or at the following locations:  HOPES CAP, 301 Garden St., or HOPES Family Resource Center, 532 Jackson St.  If you want to order some diapers online and send, please do so to the Garden St. location.  Even just one package helps.
From the beginning, HOPES formally Hoboken Organization against Poverty and Economic Stress (H.O.P.E.S), was charged with the responsibility of combating poverty in Hudson County, New Jersey by providing a variety of social services for the community. Established in 1964, HOPES CAP Inc. is a Community Action Agency provides programs which respond to the social, educational, and training needs of the low income individuals in the community from newborns to seniors.  In 1966, HOPES implemented one of the first established Head Start programs in the country.  
NYWW/FORMER UDD – A LONG PLAY FOR HOBOKEN
With the alleged move date of June 1 looming, NYWW has not yet received its required permits to begin its operations at the former UDD site.  No one wants to see NYWW shut its operations, and although they may threaten to do so for negotiating purposes, IMHO there would not be a scenario where NYWW shut’s down over this – their business is profitable, they have valuable assets and ferry services are too critical to the entire region and are only expanding.  So that being said, Hoboken continues to press on to ensure the focus remains on providing an optimal location for NYWW’s operations, just not in the center of our waterfront.  With this a few updates:
Public comments due 5/24 on their ACOE water permit application.  On Wednesday night, the City Council voted unanimously to a resolution I sponsored along with Councilwoman Jen Giattino to submit a letter from the entire City Council to the Army Corps of Engineers requesting a public hearing (resolution and letter are attached). ACOE issued a public notice on 4/26 and the public comment period ends on 5/25.   The process does not require a public hearing, but given the importance of this to our community we felt it was critical for as many voices to be heard on the issue as possible.  The Mayor also submitted a request.  Please take a minute to read the letter and submit your own.  More voices are always better. Feel free to plagiarize any of the content in the letter.  
Alternative Site Analysis is being conducted for Hoboken by Boswell Engineering.  Why are we doing this too if others have done this?  Because of potential bias in the results… Only Hoboken will be able to solve for Hoboken’s best interest.  NYWW has supposedly conducted one that they have not made public and that excluded Bayonne as a potential site.  NJ Transit is performing a second one (they conducted one in 2009 – see below), with a particular focus on Bayonne.  
2009 NJ Transit Site Analysis Report not previously disclosed.  Fund for Better Waterfront sourced this report through an OPRA request that reviews 9 sites from Weehawken to Bayonne and ranks the former UDD site 5th, with Hoboken’s own Lackawanna terminal as 1st.  Interestingly, it identifies pressure from the City of Jersey City and the developer LeFrak as the main obstacle for Lackawanna.  And we now know that the developers in Weehawken who bought their land from NYWW’s Arthur Imperatore are what is pushing NYWW out from their current site.  And… NJ Transit and their development partners LCOR have both indicated to me that the land around Lackawanna is too valuable for ferry operations.  Is it only me that thinks that private profit is being prioritized over public interest?
NJ TRANSIT MEET AND GREET ON 5/14
I, and several of our neighbors attended the NJ Transit meet and greet last Monday at Lackawanna Terminal where top executives were there to speak with commuters.  I spoke with Executive Director Kevin Corbett and other senior officials about the 126 Bus and in particular the long lines in the north.  In a nutshell, they are constrained by PABT – specifically the evening rush hours.  They cannot add any more buses given the staging requirements and lack of space.  They will be looking at the numbers for Hoboken to see if reallocating buses within our own city may help balance out the waits – as they understand a lot of our population growth has happened in the north end.  
Another major constraint is that a significant number of bus drivers have retired and they are struggling to find replacements.  If you are experiencing any recent improvement it probably has to do with some recent hires.  But if you know of anyone who may be interested tell them to contact NJ Transit here.  They told me with overtime, the role can pay as much as $65k / year with benefits.  
We also discussed adding a bus stop in the 1st ward at the corner of Newark and Willow which I have shared with 1st Councilman Mike DeFusco and the city.  And finally, I encouraged them to provide further subsidies to NYWW – as they find an alternative site for them – so that they can reduce fares for Hoboken and make ferry riding a viable alternative to the buses.  Right now the cost differential between the two does not make sense for many.  
MESSY CABLES AND WIRES
Do you have messy cables hanging across your street that are either or both a safety hazard and an eyesore?  5th Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham has organized with the City meetings with both Verizon and Cablevision (and it successor names) to discuss the removal of these wires.  If you have any please email me the following:
  • A picture of the cables/wires and any context around specific safety concerns (like impacted by a tree, low hanging, etc.)
  • In the subject, write "MESSY CABLES" and the ADDRESS.  This will let us easily chronicle them.
STOP SIGNS AND STANCHIONS
The missing stop sign at the intersection in front of Pier 13 has been restored by the county and the visibility has been improved.  Thank you to Freeholder Romano for his assistance with this.  
Alas, the stanchions are back in full force in the second ward… installed without any prior warning.  I met with several residents at the corner of 13th and Garden yesterday to discuss.  At this corner, with vertical stanchions installed in the middle of the fire zones at 6 of the 8 corners, and a fire hydrant in one of the remaining two, there is virtually no place for any stops to be made.  While standing there we witnessed a mail truck parked in front of the fire hydrant, a car parked for 30 minutes at the only other free corner while dropping off supplies, and a car has to stop in the middle of the block holding up traffic to unload heavy items.  As I discussed with my neighbors, pedestrian safety (and idling Uber's) is what is driving the installation of these, as we witnessed dozens (plural) of cars not stop at the stop sign at that corner and a few vehicles park and extend into the crosswalk.  I am not sure what the right solution, but it feels like all fingers point to better enforcement to make things work better in these areas.  Please let me know your thoughts on the stanchions.  My understanding is they are coming to more intersections near you….  
WASHINGTON STREET UPTOWN – MEETING WITH BUSINESSES
Last week, Councilman Cunningham and I hosted a meeting at Elysian Cafe (thank you Eugene and Joyce Flinn) for the Washington St. businesses north of 8th street to meet with the administration and our construction manager (T&M) to discuss the Washington St. Project.  We have seen a number of businesses on the southern end of Hoboken be dramatically and negatively impacted by this project – with some going out of business altogether.  We need to do better.  The two main focuses of the meeting were the disruption that eliminating parking has on businesses and what we can do to get this project completed as fast as possible.  Unfortunately the contract with the contractor, as written, is inflexible and the City has historically been hesitant to make any meaningful changes due to litigation concerns.  That being said, as a result of the meeting, and suggestions by the business owners, the City is going to attempt to streamline parking disruptions so that you will not see any blocks where parking has been removed with no work.  Additionally, the City will be looking to find ways to compel the contractor to work longer than 730-330.  Honestly, Peter and I were both shocked when we heard that the contractors are not working longer hours (as approved by the City Council) to expedite the project.  The contractual completion date is 8/21, after which the contractor is obliged to pay a $5,000 / day fee (but is expected to challenge).  But everyone in the room recognized that that date is not a reasonable expectation.  Please share any observations you see as and when about the project as it moves north…
A FEW OTHER UPCOMING AND NOTEWORTHY?
May 19 & 20th, 2pm Hoboken High School’s production of the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  If you were not aware, Hoboken’s theatre department is award-winning and puts on professional level productions.  There is limited seating left and tickets range between $5-10.  This production is district-wide so the cast includes elementary through high school students.  You can buy tickets here.
May 21st , follow up meeting on Affordable Housing at the Multi Service Center at 7pm.  Please join to help us find ways to solve how this nationwide crisis is affecting our own community.
May 23rd, 630 pm, Hoboken’s 120th Memorial Day Parade.  Read more here.  Please join me and our Hoboken veterans to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for all of us.
As always, please feel free to email me or call me at 201/208-1674 if you have any questions or comments or want to discuss this or anything else. 
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”