Opposition grows to Impound Lot proposal

Revised anti-Tow Yard resolution approved by City Council

A round of applause wrapped up a half-hour discussion of the resolution stating opposition to the Zimmer Administration proposal to use the Willow Avenue Municipal Garage as an Impound Lot.

Representatives of several local condo associations were on hand as the council discussed the resolution prompted by the Mayor’s insertion of language to turn the newly re-paved parking lot into a 24/7 tow yard.

Agreement reached on wording will likely stop tow yard relocation

1st ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano worked with Corporation Counsel Mark Tabakin to hammer out a compromise resolution that would protect the neighborhood and also meet the legal needs of the city.

5th ward Councilman Peter Cunningham and Councilwoman-at-Large Carol Marsh seemed reluctant to support the measure, but once Councilman-at-Large David Mello agreed to the new language (after earlier supporting the intent) they had little choice but to vote for it, and it passed unanimously.

Big step forward for neighborhood, election could change things

The resolution is designed to stop the tow yard from being established in a residential area, but what the council does it could also un-do.

The issue could still be revisited after bids are received in the current, third round of bidding on a tow contract. The bid specs were not changed to reflect the intent of the council, and if the faces on the council change dramatically after next week’s election, the issue could come back. While several members of the public spoke prior to vote, 1st ward council candidate Eric Kurta failed to appear to state his position on the Mayor’s plan to put a tow yard just a few blocks from his own home.

Zimmer and Sacs want cars towed to Residential Neighborhood

Council will consider pre-emptive action at Wednesday meeting

Community opposition is mobilizing to a plan to convert the Municipal Garage parking lot on Willow Avenue into a 24/7 impound lot for 3500 vehicles a year. The Hoboken Master Plan calls for the facility to be converted to residential use, but last summer Mayor Dawn Zimmer botched a $25.5 million sale of the property to a residential developer.

The Mayor’s failure to relocate operations and secure environmental certificates in time for an August deadline scuttled the deal, and the buyer is suing the city. Instead of following the Master Plan, Zimmer has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to re-pave the lot and build new offices on the site. Now she wants to tow cars there at all hours of the day and night.

Zimmer’s first two towing bids fail, and her third is not the charm

For many years Mile Square Towing (MST) has held the city contract. Their operation by the uptown sewage treatement plan is located as far away from a residential neighborhood as you can get and still be inside Hoboken city limits. This year Parking and Transportation Director Ian Sacs decided he didn’t like the structure of the city’s deal with MST. Others say the recently arrested Sacs wants to squeeze out the locally owned towing company. To do that he put out new bid specs for a new towing contract that he knew MST would have a hard time competing on.

Bidders who had impound lots far away from Hoboken were suddenly allowed to join the bidding, but there was backlash about forcing Hobokenites to go to the deepest reaches of Jersey City, Kearny or North Bergen to get their cars back. The first round of bids was rejected.

Round two of bidding includes towing to the Muni Garage

A second round of bidding went out that included a clause that said the city would allow out-of town towing companies to use the Muni Garage as an impound lot for the first 48 hours a vehicle is impounded before the car could be removed to an out-of-town location. Sacs and Zimmer did this without consulting the City Council. When the bids came up for consideration – and the council realized what Zimmer was doing – the new majority told the administration they would not support the plan, and wanted to pass a resolution making it clear they were not interested in converting the Muni Garage into an impound lot. The second round of bids was rejected, but the Zimmer Administration asked the council not to act on the anti-Impound Lot resolution in good faith, so it was tabled.

Zimmer acts in bad faith, ignores the will of the public & City Council

First Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano and Fourth Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti led the charge of opposition to the plan to redirect and relocate all towed cars in Hoboken through their wards.

Even Councilman-at-Large David Mello (who is an ally of the Mayor) went on the record to say he would oppose a plan to create a downtown impound lot in a residential neighborhood. Apparently Sacs and Zimmer weren’t listing. Two weeks ago the Zimmer Administration issued a third round of bidding for a towing contract, and continued to include the clause that would allow the use of the Willow Avenue site as an impound lot for disabled, abandoned and other towed vehicles.

In response, Castellano and Occhipinti have brought their resolution back to the council agenda, and it is marked as item #7 on this Wednesday night’s agenda. A community education campaign is underway in the neighborhoods surrounding the Muni Garage. Residents are being asked to come to the meeting and share their concerns by signing up to speak on Resolution #7, or being there to applaud and support those who do.

Dawn Zimmer doesn’t feel taxpayers who live near the Municipal Garage should have a say in the facility’s future. They beg to differ, and will be heard in the days ahead.

Municipal Garage Resolution

If you can’t attend the meeting, tune back here for a live video stream around 7pm tomorrow to see what pans out!

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20 Comments on "Opposition grows to Impound Lot proposal"

Mark on Pork
Member
Mark on Pork

I received this flier at my door yesterday. This proposal is ridiculous. My neighbors and I are very upset about it. Thanks Hoboken411 for spreading the word. Putting a 24/7 impound lot operation 20 feet away from bedroom windows is crazy. Shame on the people who came up with this. Most reasons why this is a bad idea are outlined well in the flier and city council resolution. We live in a thriving neighborhood with hundreds of apartments ad a growing sense of community. This is no place for a noisy, filthy towing yard.

HobokenRes
Member
HobokenRes

First of all that land is way to valuable to be used as an impound lot. There must be a developer out there that will do something more interesting with that prime property assuming there are no legal issues left to be resolved before a sale.

On the flip side, if my car is going to get towed I would much rather it be to this location than that lot way out on 16th street. What a hassle that is.

homeworld
Member

Then the same people will complain that they don’t want something built there. Remember all of the phone calls, mail, and ads against the proposed hote/condosl for that site a few years ago?

[quote comment=”206586″]First of all that land is way to valuable to be used as an impound lot. There must be a developer out there that will do something more interesting with that prime property assuming there are no legal issues left to be resolved before a sale.On the flip side, if my car is going to get towed I would much rather it be to this location than that lot way out on 16th street. What a hassle that is.[/quote]

Mark on Pork
Member
Mark on Pork

Your memory is failing you Mr/Ms Homeworld. None of those “phone calls, mail and ads against the proposed hotel/condos for that site a few years ago” came from taxpaying residents of our neighborhood. It came from developer Ursa/Tarragon which was bidding to buy the site. Perhaps this will refresh your memory.

Several people in our neighborhood have been fighting for sensible residential development on the Municipal Garage property. Others are fine with the way it is today, but wish the operations were less intrusive than they can be, especially on snowy nights. Everyone I’ve spoken with agrees that converting the parking lot into a 24/7 impound yard with out-of-town tow trucks picking up and dropping off cars at all hours of the night is a bad idea worth fighting to stop.[quote comment=”206632″]Then the same people will complain that they don’t want something built there. Remember all of the phone calls, mail, and ads against the proposed hote/condosl for that site a few years ago?

[/quote]

Mark on Pork
Member
Mark on Pork
To answer your question, there was a developer willing to spend $26 million on the property, but the city botched the sale. We watched a mad scramble to get off the property only to come back a few weeks later. It was a ridiculous waste of tax dollars. My understanding is there is a pending lawsuit between the parties. Regarding your flip side, I wouldn’t want my car towed to your backyard no matter how much more convenient it might be for me than going up to the sewer plant. If you read the fine print the cars that would be towed here would only stay here for 48 hours before being moved out of town to Jersey City, Kearny or North Bergen. I think we all know people who parked their car in Hoboken, left town on business and came back two or three days later to find out it was towed because someone put up one of those temporary emergency no parking signs at the last minute. Under this plan those people will have to go track down their car at some dump far away from Hoboken instead of just uptown. This is a bad plan and we have to stop it.[quote comment=”206586″]First of all that land is way to valuable to be used as an impound lot. There must be a developer out there that will do something more interesting with that prime property assuming there are no legal issues left to be resolved before a sale.On… Read more »
Rn17
Member
Rn17

Mark I agree with you, its a horrible plan. That pending lawsuit will cost the city millions. As far as Kurta, he will support anything the mayor will put forth. Don’t hold your breath waiting for his response. [quote comment=”206597″]To answer your question, there was a developer willing to spend $26 million on the property, but the city botched the sale. We watched a mad scramble to get off the property only to come back a few weeks later. It was a ridiculous waste of tax dollars. My understanding is there is a pending lawsuit between the parties. Regarding your flip side, I wouldn’t want my car towed to your backyard no matter how much more convenient it might be for me than going up to the sewer plant. If you read the fine print the cars that would be towed here would only stay here for 48 hours before being moved out of town to Jersey City, Kearny or North Bergen. I think we all know people who parked their car in Hoboken, left town on business and came back two or three days later to find out it was towed because someone put up one of those temporary emergency no parking signs at the last minute. Under this plan those people will have to go track down their car at some dump far away from Hoboken instead of just uptown. This is a bad plan and we have to stop it.[/quote]

notnow
Member
notnow

This is not the highest and best use there. This property generates 0 Tax Dollars, and is a very prime property located just blocks from the Path train, that can bring in about $2,000,000.00 a year. As a City we need to do the best we can, to ensure that enough revenue is coming in for current and future needs. You just don’t go out and request 12 acres of new Park Space and expect Santa to pay for it….

As for the Public, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t put pressure on an Administration and demands for top services, including upgrading the infrastructure and new park space without either having another massive Tax increase or new development to pay for it. Talk to any economist or even part time business major and you will get the same answer.

The process is simple. Don’t hold one sign up protesting for more open space, than attend an anit-development rally followed by a ” lower my tax” pep rally. This makes you a hypocrite and a buffoon. Government can not perform magic, even if they promise it…

youme66
Member
youme66

Overtime, many cars will not be retrieved by their owners and this impound lot will have the potential of looking like one giant junk-yard. Considering how Zimmer neglects cleaning parks, that’s bound to happen.

Where the hey is 1st Ward candidate Eric Kurta on this?! He should be standing up for 1st Ward residents and opposing this noisy junk-yard impound lot in his ward!

whineanddineinhob
Member
whineanddineinhob

Where’s Kurda? Probably making deals for himself with the hospital before it changes hands. There’s no transparency with this guy. What the 1st ward needs is experience dealing with this issue, and with NJ transit in the future. You voted for change in the other wards and look where it got ya with Bhalla, Marsh, Cunningham, and Mello.[quote comment=”206570″]Overtime, many cars will not be retrieved by their owners and this impound lot will have the potential of looking like one giant junk-yard. Considering how Zimmer neglects cleaning parks, that’s bound to happen.Where the hey is 1st Ward candidate Eric Kurta on this?! He should be standing up for 1st Ward residents and opposing this noisy junk-yard impound lot in his ward![/quote]

4th Ward Guardian
Member
4th Ward Guardian
Great to see my Councilman Tim Occhipinti standing up to protect downtown neighborhoods by co-sponsoring this resolution. Credit is also due to Dave Mello who went on the record opposing this stupid plan. Mello has an independent streak, but he doesn’t show it often enough for me. The last time I saw it was when Mello voted in favor of appointing Frank Raia to the North Hudson Sewerage Authority Board. @HoneyDoofus, this is not a parking proposal. This is an Impound Lot proposal. There’s a huge difference which will effect the 4th and 1st wards. It’s spelled out for you in Tim and Terry’s resolution: WHEREAS, vehicles towed without the owners consent often sound loud anti-theft alarms while being towed, tow trucks are often equipped with noisy diesel engines and loud reverse gear transmission warning devices, and operate towing devices with the use of chains that are very loud when crashing against the metal of a tow truck during normal operation of the release of a towed vehicle; and WHEREAS, towing and impounding of vehicles is an activity that often takes place at all hours of the night, when residents reasonably expect peaceable sleep, and the administration has put out bid specifications for towing services that specifically note the 24/7 aspect of said towing and impound services; and WHEREAS, relocating impound lot activities from the industrial far northwest of the City to the residential southern section would be contrary to the health, safety and welfare of its residents and severely… Read more »
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