Hoboken council votes for NJ DEP official to brief them on Rebuild by Design


The Hoboken City Council voted for a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) official to brief them on Rebuild by Design, specifically for an update on the status of Jersey City easements, at last night’s meeting.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The resolution, sponsored by 1st Ward Councilman Paul Presinzano, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, and 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, primarily seeks a briefing NJ DEP Division of Resilience, Engineering, and Construction Director Dennis Reinknecht.

“I’m gonna prime it just for a second because Mayor [Steven] Fulop of Jersey City was interviewed today on a local show and what he said is he doesn’t want to get in the way, he wants a feasibility study done for his light rail station to make sure that the light rail station is still feasible,” Fisher said about Fulop’s appearance on HCV Live & Uncut.

“He’s not paying for it, he wants the City of Hoboken to pay for it, he’s not getting in the way, it’s our problem.”

She added that she spoke with Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon, who indicated that private developer Lincoln Equities, who owns the land where the easements would go, could pay for the feasibility study.

“There’s going to be a $500,000 giveback by the developers that will fund, more than fund, the cost of that feasibility study. So it is linked to the contributions from the developers, once they get before the planning board, they’ll be making those payments as well,” Cohen interjected.

“Just to be clear, the same way that Jersey City’s feasibility study will be funded by developers, so would Hoboken’s.”

Fisher expressed concern that the Jersey City feasibility study will say the easements will block their planned light rail station before Stratton gave an overview of the situation.

“The governor’s office, DEP, and the city has been working with, and trying to meet with, Jersey City to try and resolve this issue. There are five public easements in Jersey City that we are looking for dedication to, we can do gape crosses at the southern boundary,” he began.

“The easement area we’re discussing right now was acquired by the DEP. $2.1 million was put in escrow more than two years ago and the DEP has acquired the rights to develop to develop the RBD alignment on that private property. The light rail station is actually like 15 feet above grade there. So, whether the DEP built an eye wall for Rebuild by Design or they did not, that developer would have to build a station that was elevated in the air and had access from the ground to the light rail station.”

He continued that Jersey City’s perspective has been that they are unclear if the easements will increase the costs of developing the light rail station and it’s not their responsibility to seek that information.

Furthermore, Stratton said there was a commissioner’s hearing two weeks ago where the DEP provided its appraisal, assessment, and methodology that produced the $2.1 million figure, where they ruled in favor of the DEP.

However, the decision is non-binding, and therefore, the developer can appeal it. He further stated that he is preparing to present an engineering report the next council meeting, which would subsequently be sent to Jersey City.

Stratton also said that engineers from the DEP believe that the easements would cause extra costs for the light rail station, as well as that the engineering report would cost “less than six figures.”

Presinzano asked if he could put a timeline on any of this, to which he said he wanted the study to take less than 90 days.

Just before the vote, Ramos noted that while many residents are unfamiliar with the tangible benefits of the project, it will actually reduce flood insurance costs.

The resolution was approved 7-2, with Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero and Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle voting no.

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  1. How sad it is that the City Council has to call upon a State agency to get simple answers from Mayor Bhalla’s office. If he had nothing to hide the City Council and the residents of Hoboken in a transparent manner.
    Hopefully the flood mitigation system can be build before the next Sandy like catastrophic tidal flooding event in Hoboken. Special thanks to former Mayor Dawn Zimmer for lighting a fire under Bhalla and Fulops to get them moving.