Mayor Dawn Zimmer has proposed building permanent flood walls along the south and north ends of Hoboken that would use the city’s natural topography and elevation as a barrier to the kinds of flooding that devastated the city during Hurricane Sandy last fall.
The mayor focused on storm preparations during her third State of the City address on Wednesday night at the DeBaun Auditorium, Edwin A. Stevens Hall, on the campus of Stevens Institute.
Zimmer highlighted a storm preparation plan for which she is seeking federal funding.
“I want to thank Rockefeller Group’s engineering team for introducing this simple design concept to me,” said Zimmer, referring to a New York-based development company that has purchased several properties in the north end of town.
Zimmer said that this plan, if enacted, will spare the need to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect the city from future flooding from the Hudson River. The flood walls would connect to the Palisade Cliffs along the city’s western border. Additional flood pumps could also be installed.
“I will not raise your taxes, but I will not leave you with no rainy day fund.” – Mayor Dawn Zimmer
Zimmer went on to advocate green initiatives that could compliment the engineering solutions.
“Park land created on the western side of Hoboken will help to alleviate the flooding in the most severe areas,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer thanked Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-Hoboken) for proposing legislation to require green roofs on new government buildings and encourage their use on existing buildings.
“In addition to green roofs,” the mayor said, “we want to develop legislation and establish best practices to promote the use of other green solutions like rain gardens, grey water technology, street trees, porous asphalt and pavers, and rain barrels. That’s why we have applied for a grant to complete an extensive storm water master plan.”
Rainy day funds
Zimmer also spoke about the financial damage from Hurricane Sandy, said to be over $10 million.
“Even with the coverage by FEMA, we will still be responsible for 25 percent of the total cost,” she said.
Zimmer thanked the City Council for protecting the cash surplus the city had in the event of a rainy day.
“That rainy day came on Oct. 29,” Zimmer said.
The mayor added that without that surplus, the city would be facing a huge tax increase. Instead, Hoboken was able to move forward without any increase in the tax levy this year.
Zimmer said in order to avoid raising taxes, however, the surplus has been depleted, leaving less than needed to be fully prepared for the next rainy day.
“Some may advocate once again to use the entire surplus so that we can provide a tax cut. I will not raise your taxes, but I will not leave you with no rainy day fund. That would be irresponsible,” she said.
Good turnout, many to thank
The address was very well attended and opened with flag salute by a team of local Girl Scouts. Zimmer extended personal thank yous to everyone who helped out during Hurricane Sandy. In fact, the thank yous took up approximately 20 minutes of the address.
Included in the thanks were the volunteers, first responders, Police Chief Anthony Falco, Fire Chief Richard Blohm, Public Safety Director Jon Tooke, Parking Utility Manager Anthony Riccardi, President of the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps Tom Molta, CERT team leader Lou Casciano, Community Emergency Response Team and Relief Coordinator Carly Ringer, Dr. Dana Spivak, physician’s assistant Maureen Thyne, nurse practitioner Craig Sorkin and pharmacist Sharon See, Steven’s Institute, Point of Distribution leader Allison Outwater, the Elks Club, and Sts. Peter and Paul and St. Matthew’s churches. Zimmer also extended a personal thanks to Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli for “what seemed like limitless supplies to help our citizens in their time of need.”
Zimmer thanked Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner for fuel supplied to keep emergency vehicles running.
Attendees at the address included Chief Falco, Freeholder Anthony Romano, City Councilwoman Beth Mason, City Councilman Tim Occhipinti, City Councilwoman Jen Giattino, on-again-off-again Council member James Doyle, and Secaucus Mayor Gonnelli.
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.