HUD to Secaucus: Go jump in a lake
Jun 03, 2014 | 1124 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli talks with Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer at a recent event. Gonnelli's town didn't win any federal funding to help with flood relief, while Zimmer's town did.
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli talks with Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer at a recent event. Gonnelli's town didn't win any federal funding to help with flood relief, while Zimmer's town did.
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SECAUCUS – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced yesterday the six regional winners in a national competition to prevent flooding.

But Secaucus, which often experiences flooding during storms, got nothing.

The national Rebuild by Design program was created by President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to foster creative solutions to serious weather problems like flooding caused by major storms.

Four of the winning proposals were in New York and two in New Jersey. The region including Hoboken, Jersey City, and Weehawken received $230 million, and another $150 million went to the Meadowlands, a comprehensive project that included Secaucus.

However, although Secaucus was a critical part of the planning process and provided extensive support for the “New Meadowlands” proposal, the town was excluded from the Meadowlands project at the last minute.

HUD Senior Advisor Scott Davis said that Secaucus was one of seven sectors considered part of the Meadowlands region, and the decision was made to provide Rebuild by Design funding for only one region, which includes Little Ferry, Moonachie, Carlstadt, and Teterboro. Davis said the approved plan was just the “first phase” of Meadowlands protection, but advised that the project would exhaust virtually all the available federal funding.

Prior to Donovan’s press conference it was never made clear that the Meadowlands was being divided into separate chunks that were competing for funding. In fact, the communication breakdown was so complete that when Mayor Gonnelli of Secaucus arrived at Donovan’s press conference he was congratulated by members of the Rebuild by Design team for having won the competition.

A furious Gonnelli called the decision an “embarrassment” and vowed to contest it on behalf of Secaucus. --Art Schwartz

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