Hoboken council carries $75k engineering contract for Rebuild by Design study


The Hoboken City Council carried a resolution to award a $75,000 engineering contract for a Rebuild by Design feasibility study, specifically the easements in Jersey City, at last night’s meeting.

Photo via dep.nj.gov.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

“Last meeting we passed a resolution to hear from the New Jersey DEP (Department of Environmental Protection). I think we should hold off on this until we get that briefing,” 1st Ward Councilman Paul Presinzano said, also mentioning that the council had just received a confidential memo.

Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour asked for clarification on what memo he was talking about.

“It’s a confidential memo,” 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo said.

“I missed that too. I think we should table this,” Council President Jen Giattino added.

“It was my understanding the state DEP was part of the discussions about what’s on the agenda. Was that correct?” Jabbour questioned.

Business Administrator Jason Freeman provided further details about what was going on.

“The memo that was received today as mentioned is a confidential memo from the DEP, being that it’s litigation sensitive. The DEP and the State of New Jersey were both consulted and approved the scope of the work because it relates to moving this forward,” he explained.

“We haven’t seen the scope of what we’re looking to do. What comes of this is potentially contrary to what the DEP has already negotiated through their eminent domain process,” 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher argued.

She also reiterated what she mentioned last meeting regarding Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. During his February 7th appearance on HCV Live & Uncut, he noted that he wanted a feasibility study done to ensure the easements would not impact a new light rail station.

He also took the position that Jersey City should not have to pay for such a study.

“The governor’s office has said that they’re willing to cover whatever the increase is. We don’t know how much that is. We don’t know if we get the benefit of that,” Fisher argued.

“The hope was to delay this one meeting so we can have a special meeting or something to go through it in a little more detail.”

Freeman said he was open to delaying the vote, though he was under the impression that the council as a whole wanted to move forward quickly. He also mentioned that Fulop repeated that Jersey City would not be footing the bill for a study.

“What the hopeful outcome of this study is to understand what some of those unknown costs are and we won’t have those answers for you in a future meeting without being able to conduct this study,” he added.

Fisher continued that she was concerned that the study could say the easements conflict with the light rail station.

“The purpose of this study is to understand, not the conflict of the issue, of the project itself, but understanding the two different proposals that were put forth by the developers related to how to build the proposed light rail and what the potential impact of Rebuild by Design would have on the cost of the light rail, not the cost of the residential building,” he added.

Fisher replied that the DEP has the authority to take property via eminent domain, but they’re trying to mediate a more amicable outcome first.

“This is Lincoln Equities, they want to build and put together a redevelopment site after we had already identified where Rebuild By Design would go into Jersey City, so the feasibility study that was done for the light rail station was actually done by the developer,” she added before saying she would like to table the resolution.

Russo expressed concern about the costs and what Hoboken taxpayers would be responsible for.

“Do we then become … on the hook for any of that money? We don’t necessarily have anything in writing that says that if our report now conflicts with any current reports or any current standards out there and that differential is one million dollars, five million dollars, 100 million dollars, who then has to come up with that money?” he asked.

“Because I think Mayor Fulop has been very clear in his comments, both publicly and privately, that Jersey City is not going to foot that bill. And I am all for being a good neighbor to our surrounding municipalities … In this situation, I want to make sure we have that reciprocation.”

Freeman said there’s not obligation for Hoboken to pick up the bill since it’s a state project, but otherwise, it’s a hurry and wait situation. Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle, who sponsored the resolution, echoed that sentiment.

“What happens to the project if everyone in the room goes … ‘I’m not paying?’ For over a decade we’ve been trying to deal with this situation,” Russo questioned.

“The state is not going to say whatever it is we’ll pay it. At least we’ll know the nut we’re trying to crack. I’m not opposed to waiting two weeks. But they’re not going to come in and brief us,” Doyle replied.

Presinzano said the DEP claimed they can’t speak extensively due to pending litigation, to which Doyle responded that the matter is in the courts and the property owner wants more than $1.2 million for the land.

“There’s confusion on the council. I don’t think it’s smart to move forward with this,” Presinzano argued.

“I would like to read the memo prior to voting and I’m not reading it now,” Giattino stated.

Doyle then agreed to have the measure carried, acknowledging that the resolution likely did not have the votes to pass.

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  1. Perhaps a $75,000 political donation to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop<s gubernatorial campaign would secure the easement approvals needed to build out the storm surge protection that both Hoboken and Jersey City need ?

    • Mayor Bhalla already gave $12,500 to the Jersey City Democratic Party last October and that wasn’t enough to buy Mayor Fulop ‘s endorsement much less help secure the easements. This “study” is just the next payment to try to buy the endorsement. Ravi will pay whatever Steve asks, especially with Hoboken taxpayer dollars, hoping that endorsement will come. But it never will.

  2. Please, don’t be concerned with Ravi being out $12,500 to Fulop’s Jersey City Democratic Party.

    His returns for hoodwinking Hoboken and putting in the Fulop weed shop at 14th and Hudson will dwarf that amount.

  3. As the resulting flooding from over a decade of inaction on the Rebuild By Design storm surge system after Super Storm Sandy the Hoboken City Hall will have classes on holding your breath.

    Former Mayor Dawn Zimmer did the work and secured hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal Government funding for the project to protect both Hoboken and JC and every day the cost of the build out increases.