Damn the teredos! Taxpayers could be hit in the pocketbook over the next 15 years because shipworms – actually a mollusk of the family Teredidae –are eating away at the wooden piers along the Hoboken waterfront.
The City Council approved a $12 million bond ordinance at a special meeting on Wednesday. The money will be available for repairs to Sinatra Park and Castle Point Park because both are crumbling into the Hudson River. The city will also apply for government funding.
Resident Charlie Mancini echoed the sentiment of many Hobokenites when he told the council, “I’m not opposed to repairing the pier; I’m opposed to paying for it.”
He asked the council to consider holding someone, anyone, accountable for the poor condition of the piers.
“It’s the heart of the city.” – Laurie Peterson
Not spending yet
The ordinance gives the council the capacity to draw from the bond issue if they need funding, but it does not require them to spend the money. Maser has been working with the city to examine the problem without payment, presumably in good faith that they will be awarded the city engineering contract.
The bonds have a lifetime of 15 years and need no action to repay for 10 years, according to Nick Trasente, the outgoing city finance director.
Trasente also said that the council would be wasting its time trying to move forward with the project – compiling specifications and putting the job up for bids – without having the bond ordinance in place before hand.
Councilwoman Beth Mason, the only council member who dissented on the bond ordinance, told the council to consider other upcoming costs the city may face – for instance, the possible financial failure of Hoboken University Hospital – before they earmark the $12 million.
The $12 million figure is based on an engineering estimate that may end up being an overestimate, potentially 5 to 15 percent above the actual cost, according to Robert DiBartolo, Maser program director.
Grants search and bid process
Other residents clamored for the city to seek grant money to fund the repairs.
The council introduced a local consultant, Steve Lenox, who will be offered a contract from the city to seek out grant money and other funding for the repairs.
Lenox and his associate spoke at the meeting, explaining that they have cast a wide net in search of funding, both in the private and public sectors.
Maser, assuming they are offered a general engineering contract by the city, will also have a separate contract to continue researching the pier deterioration and prepare the bid specifications for repairs. Once this is complete, the public will have a better sense of the scope of the work to be done and the council can send the job out for public bidding.
We want our field back
The soccer field at Sinatra Park has been unavailable since the pier damage was discovered and the park closed to the public last fall.
Kyra Barry, a Hoboken youth soccer organizer, has been spending countless hours making contingency plans for the 13 youth soccer teams in town, totaling over 2,000 kids.
“[Sinatra Field] plays an important role in the social fabric of our community,” she told the council. “The longer we don’t have this field, I don’t know if families are going to stick around.”
Resident Laurie Peterson, a single mother, told the council that the city is expensive, but the waterfront makes it worthwhile.
“The only thing that keeps me here now is the waterfront,” she said. “It’s the heart of the city.”
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at email@example.com.