The Hoboken City Council approved a $250,000 settlement, which also includes infrastructure incentives, for a severe February 27th water main break at last night’s meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
While the settlement names PSE&G and one of their contractors who caused the break, J. Fletcher Creamer and Son, only the latter will be responsible for paying a quarter million dollars to the city, as HCV first reported.
“I would like to thank our partners at J. Fletcher Creamer for working with the City over the past several months on a resolution to the water main break emergency that occurred last winter,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a statement.
“J. Fletcher Creamer & Son is pleased to have reached a settlement with Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla and the City of Hoboken. We are proud to partner with the City of Hoboken and value the business relationship. We look forward to the infrastructure upgrades of which the City and residents will benefit greatly,” added J. Fletcher Creamer & Son President Martin Downs.
J. Fletcher Creamer & Son was awarded a $1,756,949.41 contract for a Castle Point Terrace water main replacement by the city council last month.
On Monday, a city spokeswoman also indicated that the city would receive approximately $600,000 in water infrastructure upgrades courtesy of Veolia, which Bhalla also noted today.
“I also appreciate the amended contract with Veolia that will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in new upgrades to our water main system, which will further invest in helping prevent water main breaks. I would also like to thank PSE&G for demonstrating responsible corporate citizenship, helping to ensure that Hoboken can move on in a way that supports the city. We look forward to our ongoing work with PSE&G and others to continue to enhance the city’s infrastructure.”
Through the city’s new amended contract with Veolia, they will install over 200 new advanced leak detection monitors throughout the city’s water system at a cost of over $600,000, which was previously appropriated by the city.
The monitors will identify leaks which can be repaired before they become costly water main breaks that disrupt service and residents’ quality of life.
Veolia will also add the services of a Smart Tech Advisor to the operating team for the City to process and analyze the data from the monitors in real time.
“Through these innovative upgrades, Veolia looks forward to strengthening our partnership with the City of Hoboken,” noted North America’s Municipal Water Operations CEO Karine Rouge.
“We see the operational challenges in Hoboken as an opportunity to implement cutting-edge technology in the field, and we will use all the tools at our disposal to manage the water system more efficiently and effectively on behalf of the residents we serve.”
Once the city installs the new water mains, Hoboken will have replaced over 4.78 miles of water mains since 2018, representing approximately 11.6 percent of Hoboken water system.
By 2034, an additional five miles of water mains will be upgraded identified through an analysis conducted by the city.
Once construction on these upgrades is complete, the city will have replaced approximately 25 percent of the City’s water system infrastructure, which is double the amount recommended by the American Water Works Association.
Additionally, the city will also partner with the Hoboken Business Alliance to assist local businesses for their losses throughout the duration of the emergency, and property owners who had physical property damage, through the establishment of a $300,000 grant program.
The grant program, online application process, and criteria will be announced in the coming weeks.
“The Hoboken Business Alliance is proud to work with the City of Hoboken to bring financial relief to the businesses impacted by the water main break earlier this year. When businesses were shuttered or struggling to operate without running water, the Hoboken Business Alliance (HBA) was on the ground with city officials to help our members operate safely and get back up and running as quickly as possible,” said HBA Executive Director Roxanne Earley.
“This settlement echoes our call for dedicated funding to make our businesses whole and recover from losses related to the break.”
PSE&G Senior Vice President of Corporate Citizenship Rick Thigpen also expressed satisfaction about their partnership with the city and for being able to put this matter behind them.
“PSEG values its long and productive relationship with the city of Hoboken. We’re pleased the city was able to review the situation further and recognize our limited role,” he began.
“PSEG works hard to ensure that we are a valuable partner in the cities and towns where we do business helping to meet the needs of our diverse stakeholders. We continuously strive to be a positive force in the communities where we live and work.”
Furthermore, neither J. Fletcher Creamer and Son or PSE&G admit to any liability and the city is prevented from filing a civil or administrative claim in court.
The February 27th main break led to a boil water advisory being instituted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for approximately a day-and-a-half, as well as causing the Hoboken University Medical Center to evacuate patients for a brief time.
After the situation was resolved, Bhalla thanked everyone for their patience before revealing that the city planned to collect damages from PSE&G.
During the council meeting last night, Hoboken Business Administrator Jason Freeman noted that two homeowner associations where pipes burst due to the water main break would receive compensation from the settlement since their insurance did not cover the cost of repairs.
The settlement was approved 7-0, with 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco and 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher absent.
News Correspondent Daniel Ulloa contributed to this report.