In a memo to the City Council, Mayor Dawn Zimmer provides an update on various issues. The full text of the memo is included below...
Dear City Council Members:
I am writing to provide an update and additional information on a variety of issues.
Parks and Pedestrian Safety
My Administration has been trying to meet the Council’s deadline for 1600 Park set by a 9-0 vote on May 4th. In order to meet this deadline, everything had to go perfectly. I made the decision that for public safety reasons and in order to ensure that we have the best possible park design for the long term, we will delay the opening of the park rather than meet this artificial deadline.
Originally, my Administration had proposed a series of short-term pedestrian safety measures including a striped crosswalk, other traffic calming measures, and police presence at 16th and Park while a traffic signal was installed. The County was not comfortable that these measures were sufficient, and we have agreed that the signal should be installed before opening the park. Although we coordinated with the County in the first months of 2010 for a signal at this location; unfortunately, the programming for such work prevents the installation of a traffic and pedestrian signal at 16th and Park until next year. I am asking for your help to expedite the process for installation of this signal.
The City’s Transportation and Parking Department collected traffic data for that area to assess the best pedestrian safety measures to be installed for 1600 Park. Per our analysis, more than 95% of the cars in this area along Park Avenue speed (posted speed limit of 25 mph). The speed data for this traffic study is as follows:
Park Avenue Viaduct Speed Data
- Average Speed: 34 mph
- 85th Percentile Speed: 39 mph
- Percentage traveling over 25 mph 95.6%
- Percentage traveling over 30 mph 78.0%
- Percentage traveling over 35 mph 37.4%
- Percentage traveling over 40 mph 8.4%
At the speeds this traffic is traveling, the chance of a pedestrian accident resulting in a fatality is significantly higher than it would be at or below the posted speed limit.
Although the need to install the signal will delay the opening of the field, I still want to expedite this process so the field can be opened for use in the late spring/summer of 2012. Unfortunately, the County’s signalization funding program would not allow us to have the signal constructed until late in 2012. My Administration has been working with the County to finalize an inter-local agreement that allows for the County’s funding intended for this signal to be used in kind for roadway improvements next year along Observer Highway that would otherwise be borne by the city. In exchange, the City would bond immediately for the traffic signal at the 16th & Park location. We expect the agreement to be finalized and on the next agenda, but in order to move forward with the funding of the signal, a bond ordinance for that signal is on for introduction at this week’s Council meeting.
Because I have decided to delay opening up the park until 2012, this has given us the opportunity to contemporaneously revise the height of the field. As a result of concerns raised by some residents of the elevation of the field, my staff, the design professionals and I met with a representative of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). At that meeting the DEP expressed new flexibility in environmental remediation measures, and we believe that we can lower the height of the retaining wall and field significantly while still maintaining the necessary environmental remediation controls. Although the field will still be elevated somewhat, these revisions to the design will allow us to make the field more visually connected to our waterfront.
Previously we were moving forward with the field being built with the approved environmental controls previously allowed and approved by the DEP. In order to get the field completed by this fall, the City would have had to utilize those existing remediation measures that were already completed. To move forward and re-design the field, we will need to utilize the expertise of a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP), as the DEP no longer does direct oversight of environmental remediation. This has created the flexibility and timeliness in remediation measures that were previously not available to us.
We will be moving forward with redesigning the artificial turf field as is acceptable to the DEP standards and will make sure to work with the stakeholders on the various conceptual designs for their feedback before we go out to bid. In order to redesign and rebid, however, we have to rescind the contract with Applied Landscape Technologies. This firm was the lowest bidder and the bid was awarded to them at the July 1st City Council meeting. Subsequently we learned from the DEP about the flexibility in environmental controls possible for the site. Unfortunately, the change in design will change the scope of work significantly, necessitating the need to reject all bids and rebid the project upon completion of the new design drawings. This item is on this week’s agenda to rescind the bid.
We will also need to revise the contract with Remington & Vernick to address the redesign and the use of the LSRP for oversight of the environmental work. We are awaiting their proposal for this additional work change order and expect to have that on the agenda for a revision to the contract at the September 7th Council meeting.
Helping Community Organizations
The agenda contains a resolution to approve approximately $48,000 in funding for the YMCA. This funding would come from our affordable housing fund which has a balance of $72,663.19 and which is not designated for any other use. These funds may only be used for affordable housing projects such as this one. The YMCA is seeking this bridge funding in order to close on the financing for the project which will create 96 single-room occupancy units of low and moderate income housing. Please review the attached memo from our redevelopment counsel for additional information.
A resolution would also approve an application to COAH to request that the balance of our affordable housing funds be reallocated towards supporting the Hoboken Shelter. The shelter plays a critical role in our community, providing hundreds of meals every day, shelter for dozens every night, and valuable counseling and job training. Due to the economy, more families than ever are turning to them for help.
We are also entering into a shared service agreement with Hoboken Charter and Elysian Charter to allow them to use the gym in the Multi-Service Center, and we are providing funding for the Jubilee Center, United Cerebral Palsy, HOPES, Nuestros Ninos, Miles Square Funding, Day Care 100, Hoboken Family Planning, and the Boys & Girls Club of Hudson County.
As part of our effort to attain Sustainable Jersey certification for Hoboken, we are required to establish a Green Team. I will be appointing members of the public as well as my Administration to the team, which will be tasked with leading and coordinating sustainability initiatives in our community. I welcome recommendations from the Council and the community. Residents interested in being considered for the Green Team should email Daniel Bryan (email@example.com) with a resume and expression of interest.
An ordinance up for second reading would establish 10 miles of new striped bicycle lanes throughout Hoboken. The designated streets are all wide enough to accommodate a bike lane without eliminating any parking or travel lanes. Bike lanes have been demonstrated to be an effective, low-cost traffic calming measure. Hoboken streets with bike lanes have speeds approximately 4mph lower than similar streets without bike lanes. Hoboken is a flat, compact City that is ideal for bicycling. I urge you to support this effort to make our City greener, safer, and healthier.
Recently, while doing research as part of the codification process to bring our code up to date, Business Administrator Liston discovered there was no charter in our code book. The City Clerk office was asked to research the issue as well, but also could not find the charter. While the City’s charter was established in 1952, it was apparently never codified previously. When our legal counsel drafted the charter, it was based on the Council’s recent passage of legislation moving elections to November. However we have since revised the dates in the charter to reflect the fact that the signatures to hold a referendum on changing the election date were recently approved by the Clerk’s office.
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Concert
Last week hundreds of residents came out to enjoy the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra play a free evening open air concert on Pier A. The City sponsored this event from the Cultural Affairs trust fund and helped offset the $50,000 cost with more than $35,000 in donations from sponsors. Based on the unanimously positive response from the community, we hope to make this an annual tradition.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer ◦