HOBOKEN AND BEYOND – On Wednesday night, Mayor Dawn Zimmer sent out a response to a press release that the Sierra Club issued Wednesday morning about Zimmer’s proposal to put storm walls and flood gates in Hoboken to protect the mile-square city from hurricanes.
Here is the mayor’s statement:
As a longtime supporter of the Sierra Club who shares their concerns about climate change and their commitment to preserving our environment, I was extremely disappointed to read their statement concerning my proposal to keep Hoboken safe from future storms like Sandy. Anyone who knows anything about me knows I've been a strong environmentalist all my life, and I invite the Sierra Club to Hoboken to see how cities can be leaders in the effort to fight climate change. They would see a nationally-recognized car-sharing program that has taken hundreds of cars off the road. They would see miles of bike lanes and the only recognized bike-friendly and walk-friendly city in New Jersey. And they would learn that we are promoting the use of rain barrels, requiring green roofs in redevelopment projects, installing rain gardens, and working to acquire open space to help address our historic flooding problem. As I noted at my State of the City address, expanding the implementation of these and other green solutions is a key component of my proposal to address flooding.
Unfortunately the Sierra Club's proposal to elevate Hoboken's buildings is not only physically impossible, but it would destroy the urban character of our community by eliminating ground level retail and residences. I don't know anyone who thinks that's a realistic or reasonable solution for urban environments. In fact, these policies would take away what makes urban areas desirable and would promote suburban sprawl, which is counter to our shared goal of combating climate change.
I was particularly surprised by the release’s assertion that the “Main purpose of building the flood wall is so developers can build more high rises along the water front and rail yards.” Nothing could be further from the truth, and my record on development issues speaks for itself.
It is unfortunate that this release was issued based on inaccurate assumptions about our proposal. We do not, for example, propose walling off our waterfront, and in fact, most of our waterfront was largely unaffected by Sandy’s storm surge. The floodwaters entered our City from only two distinct locations on the north and south. Our proposal bears little resemblance to the plans described in the release.
I urge the New Jersey Sierra Club to take the time to familiarize itself with both the actual details of my proposal and my record of standing up against Hoboken’s history of overdevelopment so that they can develop a better understanding of my proposal and Hoboken’s critical need for real world solutions. I would be happy to meet with them in the near future so as to clear up their misunderstanding both with respect to my proposal and my approach to local development.