Hoboken residents demand answers from officials at Rebuild by Design meeting

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Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, council members and various other officials associated with the Rebuild by Design project largely had to play defense last night as hostile residents demanded answers on the flood preparedness program – staunchly opposing one concept that would introduce seawalls.

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The meeting started calmly enough as Zimmer and City Council President Ravi Bhalla addressed the packed house on hand. The demeanor in the room remained calm when the first question of the evening came from a resident wanting to know the exact details of how the program will move forward.

Rahul Parab, an engineer for Dewberry – the professional services firm working on Rebuild by Design – said that one of the main factors in deciding which of the five drafts move forward is the benefit-cost ratio.

After Mike Sears, another Dewberry engineer, stated it was impossible to build something that prevents flooding or storm surge from every possible storm, residents began to once again get restless over seawalls in the city that would potentially be part of this project.

Another resident called for taking Concept A off the table, since he believed it would move storm water into areas that were previously unaffected.

Concept A, which calls for up to 12.7-foot high flood walls in certain parts of Hoboken, eventually had Zimmer under heavy fire from the crowd.

The mayor said if it was up to her, she actually favors Concept E in terms of sufficient flood preparedness across the city.

A decision on a concept, likely to be made by the state, is expected in January 2017, with construction not set to commence until 2022.

Residents can email rbd-hudsonriver@dep.nj.gov with their questions and concerns.

3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo, Council-Elects Tiffanie Fisher and Ruben Ramos and Hoboken Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5) were also in attendance for the meeting.

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