Deconstructing Dawn: Hot air political strategy?
Deconstructing Dawn: A look back at a whole lot of nothing!
The title of this post should be “Deconstructing “mayor” don Zimmer,” but for the sake of recognition – we chose otherwise.
In today’s piece – we’re going to analyze a relatively recent “article” from the local news parrot fish wrap. They compiled a list of quotes from the current inept city administration regarding the whole (potentially disastrous) Flood Wall Project that is the “highlight” of the political theater here in Hoboken at the moment.
For the handful of you that read that piece – it’s like everything else don Zimmer talks about endlessly for years – with nothing happening soon. She’ll just use this fodder as campaign material so she can maintain her status as “career politician.” It’s what they do – if you haven’t realized that yet.
As a matter of fact, the “mayor” is already telling people that she MUST be re-elected or these projects will fail to materialize. Just like that 6-acre park in the southwest – which has been campaign fodder for a decade already! See what I mean?
With the assistance of a proud member of the “Hoboken Residents Without Walls” coalition – let’s take a look at this article in-depth below. Our comments are highlighted and colored green. Most of which are towards the end of the parroting piece.
Here we go…
How flood walls would work in Hoboken
Roughly 100 residents came to a public meeting on Tuesday to talk about three possible anti-flooding proposals for Hoboken that would include building controversial walls to keep the water out.
An engineer’s presentation showed that the least popular flood wall to be built near the Hudson River would be the most effective of three proposed plans, keeping 98 percent of the city dry during a storm surge. Walls that run from Weehawken to northern Hoboken would keep approximately 85 percent of the area dry.
The “Rebuild by Design Community Presentation of Flood Modeling” was an opportunity for residents to ask questions of an engineering firm and a knowledgeable professor of ocean engineering about the three potential choices.
The plans, which will be funded by the federal government as part of its 2013 “Rebuild by Design” environmental competition, were presented on Tuesday, July 12 in the Babbio Center of the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.
Last year, when the proposals were released, they elicited controversy from residents worried about an eight to 12-foot flood wall that might block their views of the Hudson River and run near their neighborhoods. In response, Mayor Dawn Zimmer clarified that the “flood protection does not have to be an ugly wall”
But no matter what they say, it will be a frickin’ ugly wall!
The barriers take different paths in each of the three alternatives.
Alternative 1, the waterfront alignment, begins in Weehawken on Harbor Boulevard and eventually proceeds south along Sinatra Drive to Castle Point. The southern end of the wall will stretch along Sinatra Drive and head west along Observer Highway and through the transit yard.
Alternative 2, the 15th Street alignment, starts in Weehawken by the 19th Street light rail station and heads east on 15th Street before heading south on Washington Street.
The final alternative, Alternative 3, also known as the “Alleyway Alignment,” also begins at the 19th Street light rail station and follows the rail track down into Weehawken Cove and into Harborside Park. It then turns east up the alleyway located between 14th and 15th streets and turns south on Washington Street for about a block.
The newest presentation was met with additional questions, opposition, and some understanding from residents.
The Rebuild by Design project aims to reduce flooding in Hoboken and its surrounding areas due to storm surges, high tides, and heavy rainfalls. Hoboken is geographically close to water level and has portions that flood during severe storms, particularly at high tide. Most of the town, particularly the southern and western portions, suffered flooding and power outages during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
The federal government launched its “Rebuild by Design” competition in 2013 to look at proposals from design teams on how to improve environmental conditions around the country. A team from Hoboken was among the winners, proposing plans that also covered portions of nearby Weehawken and Jersey City.
But not everyone is on board with the plans.
The proposed projects consist of four components to combat flooding: resist, delay, store, and discharge.
Tuesday night’s presentation focused on the first component, entitled “Resist.” This section of the project attempts to prevent flooding using infrastructure like floodwalls, seawalls, and soft landscaping such as berms and levees.
At this meeting, residents voiced similar objections to last year’s. They asked if their buildings would be structurally impacted by the walls during serious storms.
Of course, buildings will be structurally impacted. Digging deep to install the base of a real sea wall increases the chance of compromising the integrity of another building’s foundation. But we don’t want to talk about the harsh realities. We’d rather fantasize about the fact that it’s $230 Million being passed out! Yep, the politicians, attorneys, developers, engineering firms, and planning firms will all have their grubby hands out hoping to be handed big bucks!
“How do we know our glass doors are not going to get blown in by the force of the water?” said one Jersey City resident who said the wall in alternative 2 would run behind her building.
You don’t, and don Zimmer doesn’t care. She’ll post the number for FEMA on the City website for all of you troublemakers.
Other residents acknowledged that something still has to be done to combat flooding. (In the last five years, the city has added flood pumps and parks to retain floodwater, but they are looking to do more.)
Just ONE flood pump and no new parks were added. 1600 Park, the parkland purchased by the previous mayor, doesn’t have a flood retention basin underneath because Zimmer was too incompetent to think of it or to build it. 1600 Park has TURF, it is not effective in mitigating flooding. Oh, and it has an oddly placed big stupid slide that no one uses. We should put a bucket at the bottom of the slide so it can catch rainwater. Now that’s forward thinking!
Gary Holtzman, a resident of Hoboken for 30 years, chairman of the Planning Board, and husband of city Zoning Officer Ann Holtzman…
Doesn’t Hoboken just LOVE nepotism??
…said that he is willing to make a sacrifice because his own home has suffered damage from flooding.
What sacrifice? Holtzman lives on the top floor of a building. Is he saying he had flooding reach 40 feet high? Dang, I hope he put that on YouTube. If he’s referring to a building basement, well, dude, you’ve lived in Hoboken for 30 years, so you know that Hoboken basements often take on water because of rain. A sea wall isn’t going to do jack with flooding caused by rain. Whether we build sea walls or not, basements will keep flooding because, you know, sometimes it rains in Hoboken, and the City doesn’t update or maintain the pipes so all that yucky sewage backs up into the nearest location. This is the price of living on a planet with gravity.
“I’m willing to give up something to get something,” said Holtzman. “We need to move forward. I’m willing to give up my view corridor or complete access to the waterfront to get a benefit out of it.”
Thanks, Mr. Planning Board. It’s nice to have an impartial viewpoint from a man who wants his wife to be able to keep her taxpayer-funded job with Zimmer.
“It can be wonderful,” continued Holtzman. “It can be integrated into a park… there are wonderful ways to create these waterfront breakfronts and ways to stop these storm surges that are not the Berlin wall.”
And we can trust his word because he and Zimmer have painted “wonderful” bike lanes? Other than approving high-rise developments, which no one is calling “wonderful,” Zimmer and her planning board haven’t built anything wonderful in this town since their regime took over seven years ago. But it’s wonderful to see how wonderfully they view their own wonderfulness.
Some residents took issue with the H5 pump that is meant to prevent heavy rainfall from overflowing the sewer lines and flooding back into the city’s lowest-lying streets. Among them, some felt that large sewers could do the job while others found fault with the flood modeling animation at the meeting, saying it didn’t take the new pump into account.
Residents asked if the pump would help mitigate storm surge water in the case of another flood. But Ken Spahn of Virginia-based Dewberry Engineering Inc, the firm working on the Rebuild by Design project, said that was not the pump’s intent, as it is “not designed to pump out sea water.”
Even the current pump doesn’t mitigate flooding in any part of town, so, yeah, let’s add more useless equipment. While we’re at it, let’s build a theme waterpark with giant slides and zip lines that will send us soaring into mystery ponds. It will be Hoboken’s own version of the historic La Brea Tar Pits. It will be Hoboken’s historic sewage ponds, no one knows what lurks below, but what great fun!
Spahn said that the H5 pump is included in the rainwater animation that will be presented in the next meeting on July 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Hoboken High School Cafeteria.
Rainwater animation is fun, too. It makes us feel good, like maybe Thor will drop from the heavens and hold back all the water with his hammer.
The federal money for the project, totaling $230 million, was awarded for the city’s Rebuild by Design concept by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Sure, Federal money. Also known as taxpayer money. We “lurve” to blow through that government money because we always think it’s free. Oops.
The current date for completion of the new infrastructure is set for 2022.
In “real people time,” that means Hoboken will be under construction for at least 15 years. More construction, more traffic, more noise, more ugliness created by the Zimmer Administration.
The city must decide on a final plan in the next few years.
So they’re saying (these mysterious prophets) new infrastructure will be completed in the next 6 years, but the City has a few years to decide on a final plan. OK, sure, we love fuzzy math!
What are the chances with each plan?
The meeting included a PowerPoint presentation by Spahn and Professor of Ocean Engineering Dr. Alan F. Blumberg from Stevens Institute of Technology. Blumberg explained how flood modeling is done, how data for the project was collected, and the probability of surge storms affecting Hoboken.
And this is precisely why statistics and historical data are critical and why politicians always ignore it:
Blumberg said that a 10-year storm has a 10 percent chance of occurring, which results in roughly one to two feet of water and is the same likelihood of a person being born left-handed. A 50-year event has a 2 percent chance of occurring each year. It would result in three to six feet of water, according to Blumberg. He said this has the same likelihood of happening as a person being bitten by a dog each year. A 100-year storm has a 1 percent chance of occurring in a year, which would result in five to eight feet of water rising in Hoboken. He said it’s not a completely unlikely occurrence. He compared this to the probability of the average American adult earning over $22,500 per year, noting that such a storm is rare but not as rare as people might think.
He equated Superstorm Sandy to a 260-year event and said it had a 0.4 percent reoccurrence probability with six to nine feet of water. He explained, “This is the same probability of having identical twins.”
So this begs many questions:Why are we blowing $230 Million dollars of taxpayer money (yes, State and Federal funds come off the backs of hard-working taxpayers) when a Sandy-like storm is unlikely to occur for over 200 years by which time all the ugly walls and headache-inducing berms promoted by Dawn Zimmer will be completely obsolete and most likely no longer exist?
We’re guessing (and we’re really good at predictions!) it comes down to spending money and throwing big contracts around to people, agencies, and firms looking to make a profit off of the aesthetic destruction of Hoboken.
And when it goes over budget as EVERY Hoboken project does, who pays the difference? Are the Hoboken taxpayers on the line if the $230 Million is blown before the project is completed?
As the construction continues for years, it will most likely (again, a very good prediction!) wreak havoc on daily life for every Hoboken resident with accidental water main breaks (because, surely, we don’t have enough already) and power outages, along with other major snafus—who picks up the tab for all this mayhem?
Does the $230 Million cover therapy and anti-anxiety medication for ALL Hoboken residents? Seriously, constructing hideous walls and wavy berms is going to disrupt living in this town, for years. Hoboken will need to have a Sea Wall-Induced Disorder Health Plan in place and it will need to be free for all Hoboken residents. Of course, then the City will need to issue Hoboken Resident Permits so we can identify ourselves as actual residents. Because unlike our legally parked cars with street permits, we’d hate to get booted and fined.
Blumberg said his favorite alternative is the Alleyway alignment, as he lives in the Tea Building on 14th Street and this alternative distances his home from the wall.
This is interesting. We live in a democracy, right? Why don’t we put the 3 plans to a vote but make it fair by including other options such as Alternative 4: “NO WALLS” and Alternative 5: “All Hoboken residents should lives in Treehouses” It would come down to a hot contest between NO WALLS and Treehouses.
Oh, shoot. We forgot, Hoboken really isn’t a democracy. Residents don’t get to vote on major issues that impact their lives, they have to scream at Hoboken politicians and wave petitions in their faces while the elected officials pretend to not hear. Wait a minute, if they can’t hear us, we should bring in Lydia Callis who worked for Mayor Bloomberg as his ASL interpreter. She was great, and I’m sure she could help Dawn Zimmer and our elected officials finally understand what the citizens of Hoboken are saying.
We would need her at every public meeting. Every. Single. One. Everyone pays attention to this woman; she can get any message across:
Spahn showed through computer animation how the proposed three different alternatives would affect flooding in Hoboken and its surrounding areas if a 100-year storm struck Hoboken.
The animation for Alternative 1, the relatively unpopular Waterfront Alignment, showed that roughly 98 percent of Hoboken and surrounding areas would remain dry if that plan was chosen.
Alternatives 2 and 3 showed more flooding than Alternative 1. The second and third alternatives provide 86 and 85 percent flood protection respectively.
So we lose 15% of our homes – or is it people? Oh well. Will it be like The Hunger Games? Will Zimmer decide who loses the lottery? I’m sure many people will opt for a crossbow (It worked for Katniss!) and deflate the first dinghy that passes by their home and refuses to at least save the dogs.
Spahn said “The key takeaway is that all alternatives provide significant flood reduction benefits to the project area, also areas adjacent to the technical project area could receive some benefits from this, [and that] there are some locations with a one inch or less increase in flooding.”
And let’s not forget Dawn Zimmer originally said she would only build a wall that protects EVERYONE:
“I have been advocating for a comprehensive solution to Hoboken’s flooding problems since I first ran for City Council in 2007,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “This project will implement a water management strategy that will comprehensively protect all of our residents, businesses, and the critical assets we share like the PATH, transit stations, and hospital. One of the elements of the plan will use parks as flood protection, creating more open space for our residents to enjoy.” (SOURCE)
The only proposal that comes close to doing that is Alternative 1, and Zimmer has stated repeatedly at public meetings she doesn’t like the idea of a wall up on the waterfront, our crown jewel. So was she lying when she said she’d support a proposal that protects everyone? Or is that considered Selective Forgetfulness. Hmmm.
“I agree with Mayor Dawn Zimmer, option 1 is probably the least favorable of all the options, its probably the most expensive and that’ll probably end up disappearing,” Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner said at the press conference. (SOURCE)
Wait, option one is the plan that protects everyone, but it’s the least favorable? So it’s more favorable to protect 85% of the people. Ah, yes, 85% is better than 100%. Yes, we love this fuzzy math!
(END OF ARTICLE COMMENTARY)
NET-NET – We’re all SCREWED
OK, so we know ALL of these sea wall plans are BAD, but in Dawn Zimmer’s world we must have walls! Walls! Walls! Walls!
And the most effective plan is Alternative 1 since it will supposedly protect 99% of the residents. BUT Zimmer won’t commit to the most effective plan. Hmmm, again.
At all of the public meetings, the professionals have stated over and over that a waterfront wall is the most effective, so what does Zimmer’s wishy washiness over the last year say about her leadership? A lot.
These plans SUCK, but Dawn Zimmer insists we have to choose one of them.
No we don’t. We don’t have to choose any of these sucky plans. No, we don’t need walls.
She got us in this $230 Million mess, and she’s going to tell you that you have to re-elect her to get us out of this mess.
So how do we protect ourselves from Sandy-like flooding? Again, it’s a 260 year event, and while city officials keep saying they support flood protection, they keep approving below-street-level apartments and living structures. The City is supposed to be doing yearly upgrades and maintenance on our below ground infrastructure to the tune of $1 Million a year, but the City hasn’t been doing that. They spend more than that on attorneys every year, but nothing on our aging infrastructure.
Over the last 8 months, at the public meetings hosted by the City, residents offered up a lot of good proposals and strategies that don’t involve the construction of walls to deal with our flooding. They even posted these ideas on a huge petition last year. Why isn’t the City of Hoboken going with those ideas and studying them further?
Easy, because it won’t cost $230 Million and remember, there’s a lot of people lined up hoping to profit off the great Hoboken Sea Wall Debacle.
Lesson: Our flood mitigation measures are dependent on politicians and their personal politics. There’s no logic in politics. We’re screwed.