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!