Friday, July 13, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: New Engineer, Construction Manager to be engaged on Washington St., calendar of events

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:

This is a quick update (for me anyway…) as I am about to leave for a pedestrian safety workshop at the NJTPA in Newark.  This Friday the 13th update includes important upcoming events, and some quick words on Stevens, Washington St. and the new Hobokennj.gov website!
7/18 (Wednesday)– UNION DRY DOCK (former) / NYWW SITE - CALL TO ACTION! 
Army Corps of Engineers Public Hearing from 6-9pm in Hoboken at DeBaun Auditorium.  Come for all or part.  The Auditorium seats a few hundred and we need to fill all seats.  PUT ON YOUR CALENDAR.  ITS HERE.  WALK THE WALK.  DON’T SIT HOME.  ENGAGE. ADVOCATE. ENGAGE. ADVOCATE. RSVP TO ME THAT YOU ARE COMING or RSVP HERE TO THE EVENT ON FB.  WE NEED A BIG CROWD.  DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?!?!?!?!
7/14 (Saturday) - CITY OF WATER DAY 
It is going to be a gorgeous day so come to Maxwell Park/Hoboken Cove for a FREE family waterfront festival from 10-4.  From Fund For Better Waterfront’s site:
Free Kayaking.  BioBlitz/Trash Free Seas/Water Quality Testing Workshops beginning every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (sign up HERE).  And the following lineup of speakers and music: 
  • 10 a.m. Noelle Thurlow, Hoboken neighbor: Stewardship of the Hudson River & the Hoboken Cove
  • 11 a.m. Laura from Little City Books: Storytime for eco-minded young readers
  • 12 p.m Michael Sardinas of the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association
  • 1 p.m. Zach Schwitzky: Commuting to NYC via kayak
  • 1:30 & 2:30 The Fuzzy Lemons: write a song about the Hudson River and dance along with Hoboken’s favorite family-friendly rock’n’rollers
Also under the Main Tent, boost your local environmental stewardship: visit the Fund for a Better Waterfront, the Hoboken Green Team, Rebuild by Design, Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront and Climate Mobilization Hoboken to learn how you can protect the Hudson River and our very own Hoboken Cove.  Hosted by FBW, Waterfront Alliance and Hoboken Residents for a Better Waterfront.  
7/23 (Monday) – PUBLIC HEARING FOR A TEMPORARY DOG PARK IN HARBORSIDE PARK 
Will be 7pm at the park located at the northeast corner of 15th and Park Ave.  Whether you are for, against, or somewhere in the middle, this is the time to come and share your views.  More voices matter.
7/25 (Wednesday) – STEVENS REZONING, CONTINUATION OF PUBLIC HEARING  
The Council carried the vote on the Steven’s rezoning Wednesday night, but opened the public hearing which will remain open through the 25th.  Councilwoman Giattino reached out to Stevens and made this recommendation to them so that we can allow more members of the public to learn about the rezoning, Steven’s growth plans, and provide feedback.  Please come that night – it will be at City Hall in Council Chambers – where Stevens will provide their presentation.  If you cannot join in person, then please watch online.  I have seen it and like Councilman Russo said during our meeting, agree that it is quite impressive.  The City Council can take a vote that night, and although we discussed it potentially happening at the regular meeting on 8/1, I expect it probably will. So please come and be a part of it.
At the meeting there were a number of speakers who came, mostly sharing their views on the great asset that Stevens is to our community, which I wholly agree.  I have received 75 responses to my Tuesday email and the feedback is as follows (about half are from 2nd ward residents, and the other half are dispersed around the city with the biggest concentration around the Steven’s campus as you can imagine).  Summary – 17 absolute yes’s with the remainder wanting to see the plan changed in some way, with the main theme’s being:
  • Almost unanimous support for Stevens
  • Think having Stevens as a partner is a huge asset and drives local economic growth
  • Want to support some growth
  • Don’t like precedent nature of tall buildings on the rest of Hoboken
  • Don’t like tall buildings
  • Don’t feel the public was engaged in this process 
  • Question whether Stevens is giving enough concessions to get this signficant upzoning  
  • Concerned Steven’s is not paying their fair share for municipal services (roads, fire, police off campus) like other non-taxpaying private universities often do (Seton Hall, Princeton, etc..)
Washington St. Update 
In the simplest terms, with no change in path, we are looking at a probably late winter / early spring completion of the Washington St. project per T&M (our consultant).  They provided this estimate on page 10 of their change order recommendation letter that was in our agenda pack, but I missed until was pointed out by a member of the public.  Their phrase "additional 147 more days may be needed beyond the time approved in this change order."
But we are changing the path.  On Monday I sent the following to Mayor Bhalla, his Chief of Staff and his Deputy Chief of Staff:
"What is keeping our new City Engineer and Construction Manager from being fully engaged in our Washington Street project?  My understanding is they are only to be consulted if needed.  They both bring in-house, project management and commercial expertise that has been sorely lacking and is so necessary for the success of the project." 
I received no response.  But on Tuesday, at my Finance and Infrastructure Council Subcommittee meeting, we were joined by our new engineer, Kimberli Craft, for the first time and were told she would now be fully engaged in the project.  And in the closed session of the City Council on Wednesday where we were introduced to our construction attorney for the first time, the entire council was assured that Ms. Craft would be fully engaged and lead contact with T&M on the project going forward.  At the Council meeting, although we did approve the change orders and the contractual extension request of 29 days, the City Council demanded from T&M that they identify a more expeditious path to completion.  I have set up a now standing weekly subcommittee meeting (includes Council Vice President Giattino and Councilwoman Jabbour) to keep closer review of the project.  
Throughout all of these meetings and communications we have implored the Administration to keep the focus on the completion of the project, and consider not only all alternatives to do so, but also consider what we – the City – can do in parallel to make the disruption and devastation to our business community as minimal as possible.  Some possible ideas be considered include:  offering some amount of validated/low cost parking in our garages throughout the remainder of the project, taking a work holiday between Thanksgiving and the New Year even if it means adding time at the end, prior to then adding a 2” topcoat to all portions of Washington St. not yet paved (assuming we complete through 9th in the next few weeks) to provide a smoother surface while completing the project.  Any ideas from you are welcome.  As someone on twitter said to me yesterday “don’t hesitate to reach out if taxpayer input can help protect the city’s interests.”  My response was taxpayer (and any resident for that matter) input can ALWAYS help protect the city’s interests.   You know what I always say... (more voices...)
New City Website!  
If you haven’t yet checked it out, please do!  So much more user friendly!  And be sure to stop by my page to read my new bio and learn a little more about me! (City still working on formatting...)
And as always, if you have any questions or want to discuss this or anything else, please feel free to call me at 201/208-1674.  Have an amazing weekend and I hope you can get outside and enjoy some of this spectacular weather!

TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”