As a construction crew continues repairing a collapsed section of Sinatra Drive North between 12th and 14th streets, and divers inspect pilings under a waterfront walkway uptown, the city is planning to hold a second community meeting concerning the condition of the waterfront infrastructure. The next meeting will be held at the Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson St., this Monday from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The city has suffered from a number of waterfront issues over the past few years. In 2007, part of the pier at Castle Point, on the central waterfront, fell into the river. In 2009, a portion of Sinatra Park caved in, causing the park to be closed. Engineers have said that supports for those areas have been weakened by sea creatures that bore into the wooden pilings.
Last month, on Oct. 8, a large portion of upper Sinatra Drive collapsed, causing a gaping hole. County officials are now investigating how the county road was built, and what action they may take against those involved.
“At the meeting [on Monday] we’ll have more information on what they found.” – Mayor Dawn Zimmer
However, the latter has since been reopened after an inspection determined it was safe.
Council appropriates inspection funds
The City Council voted 8-0 on Monday for a $334,395 resolution to inspect public and private property along the entire waterfront.
“Since the council approved funding for both the city and private property to be investigated, I asked the engineers to immediately begin work at the [Tea Building] walkway,” Zimmer said on Thursday evening. “At the meeting [on Nov.22], we’ll have more information on what they found. Since that area was closed we wanted to get updates from that point.”
Zimmer said she hopes the divers will have completed the inspections near the Tea Building before the second community meeting.
Before the City Council voted on the appropriation on Monday, Councilwoman Beth Mason asked for the establishment of an ad-hoc subcommittee that would be updated on a regular basis on the status of the project. The council agreed.
The community speaks out
Mayor Dawn Zimmer presided over the first community meeting on the waterfront last Sunday, to a standing-room-only crowd.
One concern from a local business owner was that the repairs to Sinatra Drive would disrupt his café, located near the site of the collapse. Zimmer said construction vehicles would enter on 12th Street instead of 14th.
Some were concerned about a daycare center next door to the collapse, and whether the children would be able to rest during the day because of the excessive noise. Zimmer said the supervisors of the repair work were very receptive to taking a “lunch break” from the pile driving, the loudest part of the construction.
Leon Gold, a resident of Hoboken and school board member, asked Zimmer and Pomante at the Sunday evening community meeting who was to blame for the collapse.
“Who profited? Who messed up?” Gold said. “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.”
Freeholder Bill O’Dea said the county is spearheading the efforts to have the road fixed, but the blame shouldn’t be totally placed on the county.
“Hudson County is taking the lead in making sure the road gets repaired, because it’s technically a county road,” O’Dea said on Thursday. “The county is also actively looking into how the road was built. The county is looking into issues of other repairs and maintenance work that was done by the developer to ascertain whether or not the developer has the liability ultimately.”
He added, “The position the county is taking is, we’ll allocate the money to get the road repaired, but quite frankly, and I’ve been pretty vocal about this, we want to review all of our options to seek action against the developer, the contractor, people that put the pilings in, or the contractor who made repairs.” O’Dea said the county is looking into whether there was state involvement in the original building of the road.
Zimmer said more information regarding the repairs will be available for the public at the Monday evening meeting.
Ray Smith can be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com.