‘Anti-seawall’ sentiments lead to three new alternatives to fight flooding in Hoboken

HOBOKEN – And then there were three.

With rain cascading down onto the mile-square city Feb. 16, Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced three new alternatives to protect Hoboken from future storm surges and heavy rainfall, during a press conference at City Hall.

“The threat is real,” Zimmer said, noting that more than 500 million gallons of water deluged Hoboken during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. That superstorm inspired the state to launch the Rebuild by Design competition, in which Hoboken won $230 million for their design from the state.

Several of the initial five concepts presented to residents include “seawalls.” The proposed walls concerned those who fear they will lose waterfront access and their prized view of the New York City skyline.

Concept A from the initial plan, which spurred an online petition against its proposed flood wall along Garden Street, has been completely eliminated.

“I know there was a lot of concern from the community,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer at the press conference. “There was concern from me as well…based on feedback over exploring the waterfront option.”

The alternative plans can be read in full detail at www.nj.gov/dep/floodhazard/docs/rbdh-3-design-alternatives.pdf. Although Hoboken is spearheading plans, Weehawken and Jersey City also benefit from the plan and have been involved.

The three concepts presented at the press conference today included the following: 1) high impact on waterfront views with the addition of substantial public space amenities, 2) no impact on waterfront views/access, may require reduction of Washington Street parking, may impact traffic flow on 15th Street, 3) does not affect waterfront views/access and minimal traffic impact.

Options 2 and 3 are more inland-based – the former utilizing upper Washington St. and the latter using private/public property near the waterfront and Hudson Tea Building area.

However, at the meeting Zimmer said under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) the state requires a “waterfront alignment” option to be considered.

“I agree with Mayor Dawn Zimmer, option 1 is probably the least favorable of all the options, its probably the most expensive and that’ll probably end up disappearing,” Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner said at the press conference.

Have your say on the three alternatives at a public meeting that will go more in detail on the concepts this Thursday, Feb. 18 at the Wallace School (1100 Willow Ave.). -Steven Rodas

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