Millions for Hoboken Flooding Questioned


Minutes before the start of the City Council meeting Wednesday night, Kim Glatt’s campaign released a press release charging Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer with failure to obtain a $4 million grant toward a second pump for Hoboken’s flooding problems.  During the City Council meeting, Councilwoman Theresa Castellano made reference to the same issue, inquiring on the issue of an available grant.  Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer stated the opportunity was brought to her attention late and it would still be pursued.  Then Councilman Peter Cunningham added another opportunity to do so would be available in the spring.  This exchange can be viewed in its entirety in Mason campaign footage captured by her cameraman.  We’ve posted the youtube video in its entirety.  It’s also available through the normal City recording online of the Council meetings.   (Talking Ed Note: now posted below the yanked Mason campaign video as well).

In a Friday night interview with Mile Square View, Kathy Stack, campaign manger for the Kim Glatt campaign and one of nine sitting members on the North Hudson Sewerage Authority adamantly stated the opportunity to obtain the grant did not arise days before the deadline.  She outlined a series of events taking place over the summer where the NHSA met with Dawn Zimmer and the information was presented to jointly work toward obtaining the grants.  The $4 million in available grants would come from a combination of federal and state government sources between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

“The three additional pumps were agreed by (the) Zimmer, Cammarano and Roberts (administrations) to move ahead in stages.  Hoboken would need to bond or appropriate $2 million for the cost of the second pump.  Dawn Zimmer appeared before the Board…  We would have done it together. We just needed a letter of support and proof of a $2 million bond issue,” Stack said Friday night.

City Hall followed up after the City Council meeting with a press release where Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer indicated a desire to have EmNet technology evaluated before consideration for a second pump, “Before I commit to an initial $2 million for a project that could ultimately cost the Hoboken taxpayers as much as $20 to $30 million, I want to make sure that the expenditure is really needed.” 

Kathy Stack differed with both the City Hall statement and the viability of the EmNet technology, “I sit on the NHSA Board and I can tell you we have had independent engineers that have looked at the EmNet technology.  It will not work period.”  Adding that the recommendation for the plan for Hoboken to get four pumps came after the evaluation of the EmNet technology, Stack said, “She’s (Dawn Zimmer) skirting the facts trying to say other technology will fix the problem that she knows doesn’t work.”

Speaking for the Zimmer campaign spokesman Sam Briggs responded, “We simply disagree.  The state-of-the-art wireless monitoring technology developed by experts at the University of Notre Dame can provide the data we need to see if we can implement a better and more cost-effective solution to our flooding problem saving Hoboken taxpayers millions of dollars.”

The Jersey Journal will be posting a video of its Hoboken debate last week.  The flooding issue was raised and the issue of the grants for a second pump came up at some point among the candidates.  Frank “Pupie” Raia did not raise the issue although he also is a sitting member of the NHSA board.  Kathy Stack stated Kim Glatt asked Frank Raia why he had not brought up the issue.  She further questioned if there was a quid pro quo on the 75 parking meters resolution brought before the City Council last Wednesday.  A resolution at the City Council meeting on the meters was later removed although consideration for a vote and approval was sought.  “There’s something fishy about this,” she added.

Agustin Torres writing for the Political Insider column at the Jersey Journal references an exchange witnessed after the debate between the candidates: “Movies, Parking, Floods” at the Jersey Journal debate.

Related: North Hudson Sewerage Authority announcement on the first pump for Hoboken. 
Hudson Reporter recap on the City Council meeting and parking by the new movie theater.

Talking Ed Note: As we were going to publish, we’ve learned a meeting is scheduled to take place on EmNet LLC’s August 17th, 2009 proposal on Monday.  We will update developments as quickly as possible among all the parties including releasing contents of the EmNet proposal where legally permissible.

Both the Kim Glatt and Dawn Zimmer press release follow at the jump.

Kimberly Glatt Condemns Zimmer’s Failure on
Alleviating Hoboken’s Flooding Issue

Incompetence, lack of leadership and lack of transparency is costing Hoboken’s taxpayers

HOBOKEN, NJ – Below is a statement from Mayoral candidate Kimberly Glatt regarding Acting-Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s failure to take action to alleviate flooding in Hoboken. Months ago, Zimmer requested a flooding update from the North Hudson Sewerage Authority (NHSA) and was given a packet that laid out ways for Hoboken to secure funding. Included in this packet was information on how Hoboken could secure a $6 million pump that would help solve Hoboken’s historic flooding problem by pursuing FEMA mitigation grants and NJ DEP grants. All Dawn Zimmer had to do was submit a letter of submittal supporting the project and agreeing to have Hoboken fund $2 million by September 30th. Unfortunately, Dawn Zimmer missed the deadline and failed to file this letter. Her inaction – whether due to incompetence or a lack of leadership – squandered $4 millions in available grants. Now, Hoboken taxpayers are left footing the full $6 million bill for her failure.

“For years, Dawn Zimmer has never missed an opportunity to exploit Hoboken’s flooding problem as a political issue. However, when given the opportunity to actually do something to fix the issues facing our families, Dawn Zimmer failed to act. Her inaction not only postponed a solution to flooding, it will also cost Hoboken’s taxpayers millions of dollars. Moreover, this is a prime example of the lack of transparency and accountability we’ve seen for far too long in City Hall.”

“It’s time to turn the page on the problems of the past that continue to hobble Hoboken’s taxpayers. We need leadership in City Hall, not mere rhetoric and certainly not more of the same old political grandstanding. When Zimmer had a chance start a project that would alleviate flooding for scores of Hoboken residents – while saving the taxpayers their hard-earned money – she failed to even respond to the Sewerage Authority. This is unacceptable. Perhaps even worse than her incompetence and lack of leadership is the fact that Dawn Zimmer is trying to hide this issue from the public.”

Statement from Mayor Zimmer Regarding Flooding Issue and EmNet proposal
Mayor Zimmer Advocates Cost-Effective Approach to Hoboken’s Flooding Issue
“We are making significant progress in addressing our flooding problem.  The critical Southeastern flood pump – by far the most important – is moving forward at no cost to the City.  Last night, the City Council took the important step of encouraging the North Hudson Sewerage Authority to implement the state-of-the-art wireless technology that I have long advocated in order to monitor and better target our flood prevention efforts.  EmNet LLC conducted an on site inspection of Hoboken’s sewerage system last year and reviewed engineering models.  They estimated that the Southeastern pump combined with additional solutions that could be implemented inexpensively could solve 80 percent of our flooding problem. 
With respect to the remaining 20 percent of the problem, EmNet’s data may also provide us with information we need to proceed with a more cost-effective solution than the current 4-pump plan.   This could save Hoboken taxpayers millions and enable us to develop a complete solution that reduces combined sewage overflows into the Hudson River.  The three additional pumps proposed under the current plan are to be paid for entirely by the City of Hoboken at an estimated cost of approximately $30 million.  While grants could be obtained to cover some of this cost, Hoboken’s investment will remain substantial.  Before I commit to an initial $2 million for a project that could ultimately cost the Hoboken taxpayers as much as $20 to $30 million, I want to make sure that the expenditure is really needed.  As currently designed the proposed pump system will be pumping Hoboken sewerage into the Hudson during high tide flood events.   Anticipated stricter enforcement of the Clean Water Act will likely result in a need to modify the current pump plan at significant additional cost in order to comply with the law.   EmNet’s technology can provide us with the information that we need to craft a longer term, more cost effective and more environmentally friendly solution.” 

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