Hoboken officials discuss possibility of temporary DPW garage at municipal complex meeting


Hoboken officials discussed the possibility of constructing a temporary Department of Public Works garage at a virtual municipal complex meeting last night.

At the beginning of the 42-minute meeting, Business Administrator Jason Freeman said the version of the project residents favored in a recent survey would cost about $192.5 million, with $152.5 million for the civic center and about $40 million for amenities including a pool, field house, rec center, and parking.

He continued that the city has identified $154 million in funding: $85 million in assets for redevelopment, $55 million in developer contributions, and $14 million in grants: leaving a $38.5 million balance over 30 years.

“This balance could be covered by a variety of sources including, but not limited to, financial contributions from the public library, revenues from the municipal complex like parking and recreation, among others. Parking revenues should be at least about a half a million dollars in monthly parking per year. That doesn’t include anything related to daily commuter in and out parking,” Freeman explained.

“ … We are nearing the end of spring and we have not acquired the property due to a minority of the city council that’s refused to approve a bond ordinance to fund the acquisition, just the acquisition of this property … Therefore, we have been forced to evaluate options for a temporary public works operation.”

In February, the city council narrowly approved two measures in 5-4 votes: one to give the city the ability to use eminent domain at 1501 Adams St., the Poggi Press site, and another related $44 million bond ordinance to acquire the property.

However, for the bond ordinance to be approved on second reading, six affirmative votes are required and it was finally removed from the agenda last week after being carried twice.

“ … It is unfortunate that a minority of the council members have chosen either not to participate or prevent this project from advancing all together,” Freeman also said.

1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino all voted no on first reading, with Ramos and Giattino accusing the administration of trying to horse trade to get them to switch their votes.

While the proposed municipal complex would include headquarters for the police and fire departments, along with the office of emergency management and volunteer ambulance corps, council chambers, and a municipal court, the city must find a new home for their DPW garage by the end of 2024 as part of their Monarch settlement with Ironstate.

Director of Environmental Services Jennifer Gonzalez noted that a temporary location was not ideal, but may be necessary due to the project recently coming to a standstill.

“We need to prepare for Plan B and that’s a much less ideal scenario which includes disparate, temporary operations for public works at other available city-owned property,” she stated.

Gonzalez also said facility needs about 83,000 square feet and two potential locations are 201 Marshall St., the former PSE&G substation site, and 1301 Jefferson St. – the north lot of the Northwest Resiliency Park.

She also said it may be possible that they could still use a portion of 1501 Adams St.

“We don’t have estimated costs for the temporary facilities yet and that is because we first need to know if we’ll be able to utilize a portion of 1501 Adam St. for our temporary operations while phasing construction,” Gonzalez began.

“That will inform whether we need to construct a temporary structure for interior storage, operations, and parking. If we did construct a temporary structure, it would likely be at 201 Marshall St. and/or whether we need to utilize a portion of the north lot specifically for office trailers.”

During about a 15-minute question and answer session with residents, Paul Presinzano, a frequent critic of the administration, asked if they realized that payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) deals and selling city assets would still have a cost to taxpayers.

“The portion that we’re looking for is added impact to the municipal levy and that’s where we’re looking at here. Frankly, the city is not a real estate investment company, it is not a redeveloper: we are looking for ways to operate and reach the city’s best potential by getting the highest and best use of these properties,” Freeman replied.

“The PILOT money is money generated for municipal purposes, that is correct, so in that way it is taxable funds but what we’re trying to do is utilize what PILOT money represents and that is an injection of a heightened dollar amount of those funds to offset the tax burden that would otherwise be on the average citizen,” added Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

Last week, counsel for Charles Poggi said that he still opposes the condemnation of his property and would rather redevelop it himself.

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  1. A temporary garage was obviously always going to be needed given the complexity of the project and the tight time frame Trying to blame that on opponents of the project is just another administration lie. So is the nonsense about PILOT payments from unrelated projects somehow not imposing costs on taxpayers. Taxes and PILOTs are fungible. Every penny diverted from those PILOTs will have to be made up for in higher taxes. Not to mention that neither the Railyard project nor the Neumann leather project will be complete (probably won’t even be remotely near starting) prior to the costs needing to be paid. So it’s not merely dissembling. Not only are those PILOTs indistinguishable from taxes, it’s unlikely they will even be available to poach. Mr. Freeman also failed to disclose the level of development needed in order to realize the $85 million. Or the enormous costs associated with building and operating of a temporary garage. Councilman Ramos was right when he called this scam the worst planned project ever. First the high school then this. I can’t believe I voted for this guy twice.

    • Feel bad for you and your of course correct on the botched lack of planning, a long-time issue on this issue. Once you were taken by this crew and the Ravi Terror Flier, you should know the implications. They have no respect for the public they urinated on. None.

  2. From the folks that brought you the billion dollar Suburban High School
    Of course little minion school board trustees are pushing this too.

    Dawn Zimmer fled Hoboken after 8 years of planting future land mines….

    • She’s been out of office for a full term. She put in her time in office and moved on. Something you do know how to do. Get a life. Go on a date once before you die.

      • Everyone is not the Hoboken resident who lives rent-free in your head.
        Enjoy Jersey City and be sure to come to Hoboken to buy week at the Hudson Ravi-Fulop weed shop.

        • I have no idea who you are, what you’re talking about or who you think I am and I don’t care. But using the word “little” as a pejorative insult as you did with the phrase “little minions” is disgusting, racist and wrong. I’m surprised the site allows it. Maybe it’s the Musk effect taking hold, but obvious odious hate speech like that should always be called out.

  3. Hey I have an idea why not have a $1 billion complex? It can include a DPW, High School, Rooftop Football Field, Ice Hockey Rink, Police Station, Military Barracks, Fire Station, Library, and Waterslide? All we have to do to get people to buy into this grand idea is to get Emily Jabbour and Phil Cohen to endorse it.

  4. “Temporary,” my a$$! The reason we are in this place is because of the “win win” deal Ravinder Singh made with Monarch without having a home for the DPW.