Before I begin the update below I wanted to say Happy Passover to everyone observing. Chag Sameach!

I raised concerns at last week’s Council meeting about the current size of the proposed new Hilton hotel at the downtown Post Office site. At 24 floors, it strikes me as more Manhattan scale than Hoboken scale. What do you think? Please let me know.

I also wanted to share some good news about progress on water mains and on our comprehensive flood protection plan in this update.

Is a 24 Story Hotel is Too Tall?

At last week’s Council meeting we discussed the redevelopment plan for the Hoboken Post Office property on River Street near the W.  The plan includes a parking lot and a hotel, along with improvements to Newark Street in order to improve waterfront access. The Post Office itself would stay operational and be preserved as a landmark.

While I agree we need another hotel in Hoboken, the current plan envisions one that is 24 floors. Amazingly, this is even taller that what the developer itself proposed to the Council Subcommittee. I am concerned that a structure of this height is well out of scale with most all of the other buildings on our waterfront. I joined my colleagues in voting to move the overall redevelopment plan, which has many positive features, to the next step in the process: review and potential modification by the Planning Board. Before it is adopted, it comes back to the Council for approval.

In the meantime, I would like to know, what do you think about the proposed new hotel?  As proposed, it would be about the same height as the W Hotel.  Is this too tall or the appropriate height? Do we need another hotel?  Please let me know your views on the hotel or any other aspect of the Post Office building redevelopment plan.  You can email me your feedback at: councilmanbhalla@gmail.com.

Moving Forward on Water Main Upgrades

Recently, Hoboken has experienced all too frequent water main breaks due to aging infrastructure that has been neglected for many years. The City is saddled with old agreements that failed to adequately address ongoing maintenance and repairs.  Unfortunately, we are all now paying the price for this shortsightedness.

As Chair of the City Council’s Infrastructure Sub-Committee, I am working to make sure we climb out of the hole we are in on infrastructure and proactively address our needs in this area. We can no longer afford to delay taking action.  At this week’s Council meeting, we took an important step forward: we are moving toward approving a $276,000 contract for upgrading water mains at key locations.  These include some of which overlap with PSE&G energy resiliency projects to avoid extra repaving costs.  The locations are outlined below:

– Jefferson St. between 8th and 9th St. (overlaps with PSE&G project)
– Bloomfield St. between 2nd and 4th St. (overlaps with PSE&G project)
– Garden St. between 3rd and 5th St. (overlaps with PSE&G project)
– Monroe St. between 3rd and 4th St. (overlaps with PSE&G project)
– Monroe St. between 8th and 11th St. (overlaps with PSE&G project)
– Jefferson St. between 10th and 11th St. (overlaps with PSE&G project)
– Garden St. between 12th and 14th St.
– Garden St. between Observer Hwy and 2nd

Support Builds for Rebuild By Design

A recently completed and favorable public hearing puts us even closer to gaining the environmental approvals we need to move full speed ahead with our comprehensive flood protection plan. The plan, called Rebuild by Design, aims to protect Hoboken from future and perhaps an even more intense Superstorm Sandy-level weather events predicted because of climate change.

The innovative plan includes building flood protection measures integrated into our urban landscape, adding more flood pumps, strengthening our electrical grid, and implementing green solutions such as green roofs and rain gardens. It is being paid for mainly through a $230 million federal grant. Even though the money has been appropriated and approved, we must be vigilant that this federal funding is not diverted by the federal government.  As Chair of the City Council’s Infrastructure Sub-Committee and Co-Chair of the project’s Citizens Advisory Group, I work on this issue every day.

Please add your voice by submitting a favorable comment online at rbd-hudsonriver@dep.nj.gov. or by mailing it to Dennis Reinknecht, Program Manager, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Bureau of Flood Resilience, 501 East State Street, Mail Code 501-01A, P.O. Box 420, Trenton, NJ 08625-0420.

It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve as one of your Council Members, and play a small role with so many others in continuing to make Hoboken even better every year.  If you every have any questions, want to provide feedback, or have a constituent service request, you can always reach me via email at councilmanbhalla@gmail.com.