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Mayor Zimmer: End of year summary update

Dear Friends,
Happy New Year! I wish you and your family and friends
all the very best in 2011.

Thanks for the many compliments on my last update, and my apologies

if some of you felt overloaded by all the information that I packed into it.
Next year, I’ll try to do more updates so I can keep them briefer. 

I was surprised that some folks complimented “the writing of the person

that wrote the update….” Just so you all know, that writer is me, often
at 4:30 in the morning, and I take full responsibility for the content of
these updates. 

Learning from the Blizzard
First, in case you missed my official statement from City Hall, I want to

make sure that everyone knows that our City workers including
Environmental Services, the Police and Fire Dept., the Parking Utility and
Emergency Management, have been working extremely hard under very
difficult circumstances to clean up our city, and they are continuing to
work through the nights to improve the cleanup of our city streets.   

Yes, I recognize that there are definitely things that went right and things

that went wrong.  As with everything I do, I always believe that things
can be done better with reflection and evaluation, and that’s what my
Administration is doing with this storm.
I welcome your suggestions and any information you may have that
can help me to fully evaluate all that happened during this storm so
that my Administration can serve Hoboken residents much better the
next time around.

While there are many people working hard, there are unfortunately people

out there that will do anything they can to undermine my Administration
for political reasons.  My job, no matter the challenges, is to plow ahead
through all the “naysayers” and stay focused on the job at hand.

The reality is that this was one of the worst storms in the history of Hoboken.  

The bigger the storm the bigger the task of digging out and those who say
that Hoboken has experienced many such storms in the past are wrong. 
There have only been two larger snow storms in the last 100 years, so this
was truly a “big one” that needs a name…As you all know, our wonderful
urban environment is exactly that – a small space with essentially no room
for two feet of snow. 

Our biggest snow challenges: 
Where do we put all this snow? With all the packed cars, and parking such a

challenge, how do I convince an entire town to move their cars off the street
and enable us to fully clean up? And how do I prevent people from trying to
move their cars in the middle of a storm, and then leaving them abandoned
when they figure out their mistake in trying to drive?  (I am not making
excuses, but it is important for you to know that all of the abandoned cars
in the middle of the streets throughout our City made the clean up
excruciatingly difficult for our City employees.  Next time we will be much
more prepared for dealing with the abundance of abandoned cars that
resulted from this storm). 

During the storm we had to bring in a towing company with larger equipment

that could remove the cars in such high levels of snow.  I am currently
working on negotiating a new emergency contract that can boost our existing
outsourcing.  In addition, we are re-evaluating the best locations to dump snow.
(FYI – it is illegal to dump snow into the Hudson, and the issue presents
challenges to negotiating with private property owners for dumping snow on undeveloped property). 

To Tow or Not to Tow — That is the Question:
With each storm, I have tried to be sensitive to the challenges of finding

parking and refrain from towing if at all possible.  We always run license
plates and call car owners before we tow.  All of this takes a great deal of
manpower and time. 

Going forward, I believe I’ve got to be stricter with towing.  As I reflect on

this storm, my Administration waited too long to begin the towing, and we
ended up with emergency routes that were not cleared quickly enough and
could not be navigated by our emergency vehicles.  While I feel for those
that may be towed, it is my job to look out for the welfare of everyone in
Hoboken.  I want to keep everyone safe, and if we have a situation that
prevents a fire truck from getting to a fire, or an ambulance from reaching
the hospital, then I will have failed in my job to protect all Hoboken residents. 
(For safety reasons Chief Blohm, Chief Falco and I decided yesterday that it
was necessary to tow on Willow Avenue to improve access to the hospital).  

For everyone’s protection in Hoboken, please spread the word that the mayor

is going to be tow-tough during the next storm and will be towing from
emergency routes. Since storms are unpredictable this means that with
20/20 hindsight the towing may sometimes appear to be unnecessary, but I’d
rather inconvenience a few people than lose a life.  (During each storm
we announce our emergency routes again and again.  Please heed these
announcements and know that it includes both sides of Washington Street,
and the west side of Willow Avenue for access to the hospital, among other locations). 

Free Parking: 

Yes, it’s an uphill battle, but I am working very hard to secure as much free
off-street parking as I can.  I want to thank Superintendent Carter and School
Board President Rose Markle for agreeing for the city to use the Connors school
parking lot at 201 Monroe as a free parking location through Sunday at noon
on a first come first serve basis.  Thank you to CVS as well for permitting
residents to park overnight last night for free. 

We are working on some other options, so check the City’s site for more

information at hobokennj.org.  The more cars we get off the streets, the
more we can clean up the streets!  For the next storm, I hope to be more
prepared with back up off-street parking locations.   

In addition, given these extenuating circumstances, residents can park

in Garage  B and D for $5.00 until Monday at 8:00 am.   

Helping with the snow cleanup:  Please try to remove your car from the

street, and as you do it, please try to pile the snow next to the road and
refrain from throwing it back into the street.  And, please, please do not
throw snow on the fire hydrants.

The Mayor on Vacation? 
It’s funny to think that I was feeling like a bit
of a work-a-holic as I had the last light on at
City Hall on Thursday night before Christmas.
(I let employees leave at 2:30).  

I love my job, but it is hard to get away from

our great City! I am glad to say that I had a
wonderful Christmas with my family in NH.
I was thrilled to go for an exhilarating hike to
an icy waterfall on Sunday with my parents,
and my brothers and their families. (Ice is so cool!) I had planned to take
only one day off and drive back on Monday morning, but the storm made it impossible, and so I was on the road with what seemed like everyone else
on the east coast driving back from NH on Tuesday.

My time in NH was great, but it was filled with many calls with my

business administrator, Arch Liston.  One time he called and my mom
answered and said, “I wish we had all the snow that Hoboken has….” 
As you can imagine, he quickly agreed!

The issue with the 911 Call system: 

On Monday night a concerned citizen alerted me to the problems Hoboken
was having with 911.  She called 911 herself to report a fire alarm at the
library and had problems getting through. (The library was fine, but the
911 system was not). I immediately contacted the Police and Fire Chiefs,
my BA, and I want to thank Freeholder Romano for working with me to
get information on the matter from the Chief of the Hudson County Sheriff’s
office.  Through various sources we confirmed that this was a problem that
Verizon was having, and that they were repairing the system as quickly
as possible. 

While Hoboken was at the mercy of Verizon to do the repairs, it was my

obligation to inform the public and that’s why we issued a press statement
to alert residents to call the Hoboken Police dispatch directly. I am asking
for an investigation into what happened, why the City was not informed
on the matter, and whether or not this happened in other Hudson County
municipalities.  I was also surprised that Verizon publicly stated that the
problem was not their responsibility at a time when they were already
working on correcting the problem with their system.  

Again, thanks to all the Good Samaritans of Hoboken who helped out

friends and strangers alike during the storm.  I am sure that this email
list includes many of those Hoboken saints that make our community
so special.  

Best wishes for a spectacular New Year! And please feel free to send your suggestions and/or information you may have to help me evaluate how I

can improve our City’s snow response.  If you witnessed issues of concern,
such as trucks driving with their plow blades up, please let me know so I
can investigate to determine whether or not this was appropriate under
the circumstances. 

Have a happy and safe New Year!

Mayor Zimmer

P.S.  The hospital board meeting was moved to next Tuesday, January 4th.

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