Zimmer: Fulop is holding Hoboken’s Rebuild by Design ‘hostage’ with Bhalla complicit


Former Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer is asserting that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is holding the Rebuild by Design flood resiliency project “hostage” with her successor, Ravi Bhalla, being complicit due to future political ambitions.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“@RaviBhalla @CityofHoboken Mayor Bhalla: Your job is to put Hoboken first! Stand w/me to demand Mayor Fulop stop playing games and provide the JC/RBD easements without further delay so southern Hoboken can be protected! #EnvironmentalJustice,” Zimmer tweeted this morning.

The Rebuild by Design project began about one year after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the Mile Square City, and by 2014, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded Hoboken $230 million for the ambitious endeavor.

Just a week-and-a-half ago, Zimmer, who endorsed Bhalla for mayor in 2017 instead of seeking a third term, returned to Hoboken to join local and state officials to break ground on the $297.6 million project.

$251 million was allocated for flood walls, with $46.6 million going towards a pump station.

However, Zimmer’s tweet came after a New York Times story published this morning said that Fulop “has yet to sign off on several required easements,” citing a potential conflict with pre-existing plans for a new Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station (though Gov. Phil Murphy’s office said no conflict exists and the state would cover the added costs).

In a statement provided by his office in response, Bhalla said he is working with his state and local partners to ensure that the Rebuild by Design project is completed in the coming years.

“Over the past several years, Rebuild by Design has moved from concept to reality, with the recent groundbreaking of a new and improved Harborside Park taking us one step further towards completion,” he began.

“This has only been made possible thanks to the robust partnerships on all levels of government, especially through the Governor’s office and the Department of Environmental Protection … I appreciate the collaboration behind the scenes with Mayor Fulop and Jersey City to ensure Jersey City also receives benefits of flood risk reduction while avoiding impacts to their mass transit needs.”

Evidently, Zimmer did not find that response to be acceptable, exclaiming that Bhalla was allowing Fulop to hold the project hostage in exchange for future political gain.

“Mayor Fulop is withholding necessary easements in Jersey City, which puts the southern portion of the Rebuild by Design project in jeopardy. He is doing this despite having received (according to the NYT) written assurances from the State that the light rail and RBD were not incompatible and the State would cover any additional costs for the easements,” she stated.

“Despite these assurances, Mayor Fulop continues to hold RBD hostage, apparently with Mayor Bhalla’s ‘collaboration behind the scenes.’ Instead of standing up for Hoboken, Mayor Bhalla is prioritizing his relationship with Mayor Fulop, who he likely believes can help facilitate his ambition for higher office. Mayor Bhalla needs to stop falsely assuring the public that everything is on track and start working publicly and privately to persuade Mayor Fulop to stop obstructing this vital resiliency project.”

Jersey City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione defended their position in the matter.

“We appreciate Dawn Zimmer for weighing in from the Catskills, but the truth is, while Hoboken reaps the benefits from their perimeter wall, the Rebuild by Design plan not only increases flood risks for Jersey City, but also derails the long-established light rail commitment to serve an adjacent Housing Authority property – a priority for the low-income community that is being rebuilt there,” she said.

“It is only fair to ask for the cost increases to be covered that are directly caused by the easement, not the entire project, especially considering the mass transit expansion will service the entire area and redevelopment plans.”

Through a spokesman, Bhalla said at the end of September that he is “seriously considering” a bid for Congress in the 8th District, prompting incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez to announce his bid for re-election hours later.

Shortly thereafter, Bhalla has called for U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Rob’s father, to resign over federal corruption charges and has also polled, in part, regarding his chances as a congressional candidate, as only HCV reported.

A Hoboken spokeswoman did not return an email seeking comment on Zimmer’s subsequent statement.


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from Jersey City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.

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    • As should be and, if not, recount ballots bc would not put past Bhalla and crew to pull a “Trump” or…more locally…a “Russo” scam. Looking forward to hearing results. My votes have been cast. CM Cohen is out.

  1. “You don’t know what youve got til it’s gone….” Did not agree with everything Zimmer did – but clearly she was not a stooge for the HudCo Machine. Time to acknowledge that Ravi and Co have been a big mistake- and vote them out.

  2. All of Hoboken has paid a price for the Mayor’s self interested personal ambition. If higher office allows Hoboken to find a mayor who prioritizes the quality of life for residents, then I wish him the best of luck.

  3. How are the Ravibots taking his evisceration? It’s Friday night before a Hoboken election, did Dawn Zimmer just drop a terror flier in Ravi’s lap? 🥴

  4. WOW WOW WOW ! Lil Stevey Fulop proves to everyone he is as much of a sleazy dirtbag as they said he was.

    First thing Hoboken voters need to do is vote against anyone Bhalla has endorsed for to be his rubber stamps on the City Council and not give him any additional power. Voters should withhold there votes form Cohen, Cordova, Decker and Myers to lessen his stranglehold over them.

  5. My guess is that no one on the City Council, including Cohen and the rest of Ravi’s “team” knew anything about this. They ought to be outraged and say so. Clearly. Publicly. Loudly.

    To paraphrase Mayor Zimmer. DO YOUR JOBS.

    • As long as Ravi Bhalla pays his campaign bills don”t expect Phil Cohen to say anything negative about his sugar daddy.
      All those so called Rebuild By Design updates Cohen and Jabbour have been pushing out were lies.
      They had to know they were lies and double down on the lies.

  6. Rafi Cordova: Complicit ( and willing )
    Marla Decker:Complicit ( and may not know it )
    Lauren Myer: Complicit ( and doesn’t know what RBD is))
    Joe Quintero :Complicit ( and carrying the water and Bhalla’s minister of misinformation )
    Phil Cohen:Complicit ( and in denial )
    Emily Jabbour: Complicit ( and thinks we are dumb )
    Jim Doyle: Complicit ( and doesn’t care )

    King Ravi : Complicit Complicit Complicit Complicit Complicit Complicit!

  7. I have to wonder if others on the City Council did not step in to question Mrs Fulop’s cannabis store on 14th Street in Hoboken would Mayor Fulop still have blocked the Federally funded flood protection plan ?

    The deafening lack of response from Mayor Bhalla apparently confirms Former Mayor Zimmer’s statement in the New York Times.