HOBOKEN - In a standing room only crowd at the Hoboken Historical Museum on Sunday night, Mayor Dawn Zimmer, alongside City Engineer Joe Pomante of Boswell Engineering, explained the past, present, and future of the collapsed portion of Sinatra Drive North and discussed the future of the entire waterfront.
Zimmer announced that the City Council will vote this evening on whether or not divers will inspect the entire waterfront, which includes public and private areas of the waterfront walkway. The cost of the inspection will be $450,000.
The residents were informed that Sinatra Drive North, a county road which suffered a partial collapse in early October, will be completely replaced from 12th to 14th Street. Sinatra Drive North was originally built on wood pilings, but those will be replaced by concrete pilings which are less susceptible to damage by the shipworms officials believe have weakened the old wooden pilings.
Zimmer also announced that the city is working to obtain up to $2 million in grant money to pay for waterfront repairs.
The city has already sent divers into the water because the declaration of a state of emergency permitted preemptive action to be taken. Tonight, the issue of the entire waterfront will be placed before the City Council.
One resident, Leon Gold, asked where the blame should be placed.
"Who profited? Who messed up?" Gold asked Zimmer and Pomante. "Somebody blew it."
Zimmer said the purpose of the community meeting was not to assign blame, but to "look back and make sure we don't make the same mistakes."
"We can't go back in time," Zimmer later added.
Pomante will meet with the county today, and the city hopes to have even more answers at the next community meeting on Nov. 22. The location for that meeting has yet to be announced.
Zimmer believes the meeting was a step forward, and said many residents came up to thank her following the event.
"We're taking this very seriously and doing all we can," Zimmer said. "Public safety is our number one priority."
The next step on the waterfront issue will be addressed this evening at the City Council meeting. The meeting will take place on a Monday because the League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City will also occur this week, and would have interfered with a regularly scheduled Wednesday meeting. Tonight will be the first time that newly-elected Councilman Tim Occhipinti takes his seat on the City Council. - Ray Smith