Candidates for 4th Ward election respond to Sinatra Drive collapse

HOBOKEN – Both candidates for the 4th Ward special election on Nov. 2 have made their views known on the collapse of a portion of Sinatra Drive last week. Not surprisingly, they both found reasons to criticize the other.
“When Sinatra Park collapsed last year, the City Council finance committee chairman, [Councilman] Michael Lenz, should have fought to bring in a structural engineer to evaluate the entire walkway for the safety of our residents and visitors,” said 4th Ward challenger Tim Occhipinti on Monday. “He failed to do that, and the city was caught off guard – again. It seems the administration is always reacting to crises and can’t seem to get out in front of any of the major problems facing our town.”
Occhipinti said the residents of the 4th Ward rely on “safe access to the waterfront” because of scarce open space in the ward.
“The city is sitting on a major surplus, which it manipulates for its election year purposes,” Occhipinti said. “You can’t just take a piecemeal approach to this issue, hoping that someone else will foot the bill. What is the city’s plan to secure our waterfront? They’ve done nothing to get a handle on this problem, or even understand how severe it really is.”

Lenz responded on Tuesday.

“The council majority, Mayor [Dawn] Zimmer and I have been warning about infrastructure problems since day one,” Lenz said. “Tim Occhipinti may not have been in town long enough to know, but that portion of the road was built by a private developer and then turned over to the county for maintenance and upkeep. After years of backroom deals and developer friendly inspectors under past administrations, it is not a surprise that the work was shoddy and did not stand the test of time.”
Lenz said the Sinatra Drive collapse is an example of why the city must hold onto a $10 million cash surplus.
“Some may call it a ‘rainy day fund’ but perhaps it would be better to call it a ‘fall into the Hudson fund,’” Lenz said. “As a city, we dodged a financial bullet, since this portion of Frank Sinatra Drive is going to be repaired with county and private funds, but the next time we may not be so lucky.”
Election day is Nov. 2. – Ray Smith

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