The North Hudson Sewerage Authority and the city of Hoboken have a $30 million agreement to construct four wet-weather pumping stations to alleviate Hoboken's flooding problem, which occurs whenever there is a heavy storm. The design plan was started by the Sewerage Authority in 2005, but now, each of the four pumping stations is experiencing some obstacles.
One station was expected for the southeast part of Hoboken by Observer Highway, an area owned by N.J. Transit.
Sewerage Authority Director Fred Pocci charged Monday that N.J. Transit "reneged" on their deal to build the Observer Highway sewer, forcing the Sewerage Authority to start all over with their plans for the first pumping station. Pocci also claimed that so far, N.J. Transit has not allowed Pocci's crew to enter the site.
"Why is that?" asked Councilman Peter Cammarano at the meeting.
"Because they're obstinate; because they don't care," Pocci charged. "It's not important to them."
"Well, we'll make it important to them," responded 4th Ward Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer, who made flooding in her ward a major issue when she ran for council last spring.
"I need some help; I need somebody to make everybody [who's] standing in our way feel the pain," said Pocci.
Zimmer asked, if the impasse is resolved, how long it might be until southwest Hoboken gets relief from the flooding that accompanies major storms.
Pocci said it could take a year, given the right circumstances.
However, Anthony Amabile, the media relations director for the Sewerage Authority, said on Friday that progress had been made with N.J. Transit since the meeting, and that he expects the Sewerage Authority to have access to the site in the near future.
The other three pumps
Beside the Observer Highway pump, the Sewerage Authority is experiencing resistance to pumps at their Fourth, 11th, and 15th street sites as well.
The Fourth Street site is unavailable to the Sewerage Authority right now because of the city's construction of Pier C, Pocci said.
The Sewerage Authority is "at a loss what to do because we weren't told that there was a pier being built, so we've had to step back from that one," said Pocci.
They are now waiting for the city to finish the pier before re-evaluating the situation, although a design for the pump is in place.
The 11th Street site belongs to Toll Brothers as a part of the Maxwell Place development. Toll Brothers has extended their pier into the area where the Sewerage Authority was planning to build, Pocci said.
"They're driving a pile into the middle of our location," said Pocci.
According to Pocci, Fred Bado, Hoboken's director of Community Development, had approved the site for the pumping system.
The 15th Street site is the least important location on the authority's list of priorities, but also the largest of the four stations. The site is owned by a developer who is in negotiations with the Sewerage Authority to grant access to the site. Pocci mentioned that the city may have to use the power of "eminent domain," meaning the city would repossess the land if it satisfies a public need.
According to Amabile, eminent domain would be a last resort considering it would only result in an extensive battle to reclaim the land. The battle would only delay construction further.
Direction for the council
Dr. Hank Dobblelaar, Stevens Insitute's construction management director, said a study by junior surveying student would be available soon and that they would be providing a civil engineering student to work full-time over the summer to help study the situation.
Dobblelaar recommended that, "once this additional data is received, that the institute and the North Hudson Sewerage Authority work together over the summer to try to provide some direction on which way the City Council should think."
Second Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason commented on how big the problem is in Hoboken.
"I don't want to see any more boats coming down the street," she said.
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